Saturday, June 6, 2009

15th International Reflective Practice Conference: Comhrá

Welcome to the people who are visiting my blog for the first time after the 15th International Reflective Practice Conference: Comhrá at Limerick University, Ireland.

I'm writing this post early because I am taking some time off for leisurely travel to Ireland in the hope that I will have adjusted to the time zone and shaken off my jet lag before I need to stand up and present at the conference. If you are reading this it also means that someone was interested enough to come along to my session, listen to me and follow up - and that is all good news. I hope to hear from you and I would love you to post a message and tell me what you thought of the conference and my presentation.

For those of you that are new here I want to tell you about my five main reasons for keeping a blog. For those of you who are experienced bloggers - please respond with your reasons and we can share the joy amongst us all.

1. I like to get these thoughts, ideas and feelings out of my head and written down somewhere. Preferably, somewhere I can find it again, so a chronological blog is perfect.

2. I like to have a separate personal and a professional blog. I can let my family and friends know what I have been doing and load up the photos, and I can also keep in contact with other blogging contacts who might (or might not) be interested in what I get up to on the weekends.

3. I like the stimulation and ideas from other people who respond to my comments. There are very interesting people out there that I would never have met if it wasn't for this blog.

4. I live in a regional town and it can be hard to talk with other people about what I am thinking and feeling. I enjoy connecting with people and discussing the issues, without worrying if they might be related to someone who knows someone.

5. It's fun. It's new and it is the future. As a PhD student I want to have contemporary research in 3 or 4 years time and I am certain that we will be doing more and more online. So, I might as well learn how to do it now.

If you are new to blogging, here are some of my favourite blogs that I recommend you visit. Sarah's blog is an experienced blogger and her blog is fantastic - she has great information for new people about how to get started, and ideas and examples about technology, tools and techniques. Pam is a midwife and I enjoy reading her posts about the different aspects of her life. David's blog is fun and I enjoy reading his thoughts about daily life, through the eyes of a 20-something US bachelor. Mary-Helen is doing a PhD about doing a PhD and she describes her blog as a place to dump her thoughts - it's an interesting journal and I enjoy reading about her latest PhD adventure. Dave has a blog about using a blog for reflective practice and he has some great ideas about using technology. Do you have any favourite blogs to recommend to us?

Reflective Practice research design

I have been plodding along with my PhD and thinking about reflective practice and trying to work out how to design my research. I am getting towards the stage where I need to make some decisions and make a start if I am ever going to finish.

I had an idea about setting up a couple of different reflective practice groups, including a blogging group to test out some different reflection methods and techniques and explore people's experiences, but it all sounds too restrictive. How will I know which are the best or the right methods to select? What happens when people leave or join the group? I don't want to impose my ideas about reflective practice on other people - I think it is the kind of thing that you have to work out for yourself and personal preferences are very important.

So I was thinking that maybe I should do simple old qualitative research, where I talk with people about their experiences of reflective practice, how they learned about it, when they began to value reflective practice and how do they do it. I think it would be fascinating reading. This way, I could invite people to be involved and perhaps target some of the influential writers about reflective practice. There is also a place for me to explore the idea about blogging for reflective practice and find out about bloggers' experiences.

I have been reading Dave's blog - he has been writing about using a blog for reflective practice, and his ideas fit in really well with mine. I'm off to the 15th International Reflective Practice Conference: Comhrá at the end of the month and I am presenting my research ideas about reflective practice and blogging. I'm interested in your thoughts and ideas - do you think we can use a blog for reflective practice? Do you think my research proposal will work?

The 'Can Do' Initiative

I have recently discovered the ‘Can Do’ Initiative. This is an initiative funded by the Australian Government and promoted by the Australian General Practice Network. I think this is a fantastic example of an innovative approach to flexible learning.

The 'Can do' initiative encourages health professionals to focus on education, training and networking to learn about dual diagnosis of mental health and substance abuse problems.
The program offers an interactive on-line education program where you watch short lectures, read notes and consider a case study, then there are questions to answer to complete the module. The overview explains that it is a six-hour clinical education module that "provides comprehensive education and training in the recognition, management and review of service users presenting with co occurring mental health and substance use disorders. Many other training packages are available that address alcohol and drug issues or mental health issues but few address the combination of the two and their management in the general practice setting. "

The program is accredited and for me, as a Social Worker, I can count the time towards my Professional Development requirements. And it's free. So it is pretty easy and a flexible and interactive way for busy health professionals, especially people working and living in rural and remote areas to be able to access quality education and training.

I'm about half way through and really enjoying the program. Do you know of any other programs like this that offer a similar program?