Tip of the Week: Reflection Improves Pharmacy Effectiveness


Reflection is a key strategy to facilitate self-identity and other aspects of personal development that benefit pharmacy practice.

Reflection is one of the primary ways in which we grow as a person. It is necessary in grooming self-identity and professional identity. Reflection is a key strategy to facilitate these and other aspects of development.

Every day in practice, pharmacists face moral dilemmas and interact with patients, health plans, peer pharmacists, technicians, other health providers, supervisors, and additional individuals. There is little doubt that some interactions and situations are handled with aplomb, while others leave considerable room for improvement. It’s always said that we learn from our mistakes. That is not entirely true, unless we stop to reflect on those mistakes, or even those occasions where there was not a mistake, per se, but simply something that could have been handled better.

An article in Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy described the benefits of reflective practice.1 The authors assert the need for compassionate behaviors not only toward patients but also toward other people with whom we work. They point out that reflection helps pharmacists better understand the perspectives of others. Doing so will facilitate those compassionate behaviors and also make one’s work life that much easier in the end.

Reflection also helps you to understand your own coping mechanisms and direct energy toward improving these coping mechanisms. This is critically important in light of high work volumes, stressors, and role conflicts present in most pharmacy jobs. The authors point to very salient research demonstrating that reflective practice is associated with a number of positive outcomes, including greater analytical reasoning that leads to a reduction in errors committed by medical professionals.

Reflection has not yet been studied extensively in pharmacy practice, but evidence suggests its use to be highly important for pharmacy students in their learning. This is quite evident when examining the most recent accreditation standards for pharmacy schools, as reflection is a key component of the learning processes required in both the didactic and experiential components of the curriculum.

Pharmacists should reflect, and this be preceded on learning how to reflect, such as reflecting more deeply and profoundly rather than just surface, or cursory thought. There are many widely available toolkits and information on the Internet to help guide reflection. Pharmacy managers can encourage reflective practice by promoting self-development, instilling a reflective culture, and perhaps, most importantly, by role modeling reflective practice and effective coping mechanisms.

Additional information about Organizational Structure and Management Functions and Leadership can be found in Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 5e.

Shane P. Desselle, RPh, PhD, FAPhA, Professor of Social/Behavioral Pharmacy at Touro University California.


Montzourani E, Desselle SP, Le J, Lonie JM, Lucas C. The role of reflective practice strategies in healthcare clinical environments and implications for pharmacy practice. Res Social Adm Pharm. 2019;15(12):1476-1479.

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