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In today’s healthcare system, physical therapists treat an increasingly complex and diverse patient population and face rapidly expanding knowledge, technologies, and evidence for the care they provide. They also face demands for increased efficiency and improved outcomes. Reflection, espoused for its ability to help clinicians convert experience into learning and new knowledge, is widely viewed as being critical to sound clinical practice. There is, however, limited research and little consensus regarding what reflection looks like in the day-to-day practice of physical therapists. This phenomenological inquiry aims to identify the essence of reflection as experienced by physical therapists in clinical practice. Taking a hermeneutic phenomenological stance, the researcher used six physical therapists’ oral and written stories of clinical practice as the window through which to view reflection. Blending thematic, structural and performative approaches to narrative analysis, she examined the content and process of participants’ reflection – the what and how of their reflection. This study reveals that the content of participants’ reflection is invariably about challenges faced in providing optimal care, especially the pivotal role of their relationship with the patient, the need to see the patient as a full person and place that person at the center of clinical decisions. It also reveals that reflection shares essential features with narrative in that it is a situated and inductive way of knowing, iterative in nature (with each revisiting revealing new meanings), and always co-constructed.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.



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