Designing and delivering reflective reading groups

When you’ve put a lot of work into something, it’s sometimes hard to accept when it’s not the runaway success you hoped. My reflective reading groups for nurses have been hit and miss. When they go well, it’s elating, and everyone agrees it’s a great thing to pursue. When no one turns up despite six bookings, it is disheartening to have put in hours of preparation for nothing.

However… Overall? It’s been a valuable learning experience, and I am glad I have stuck with it. As I said before, when it goes well, I feel over the moon. And even if people book but no one comes, they at least know the library exists when they might not have before.

So what are reflective reading groups?

As of April 2016, nurses and midwives undertake revalidation to maintain their registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). One criteria of the revalidation portfolio is evidence of 35 hours of continuing professional development (CPD), of which 20 hours must be participatory. To support this, I introduced reflective reading groups for nurses; roughly one-hour guided discussion to reflect on an article with other nurses.

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There’s a lot of preparation involved. I use the SRLA Tool in Collins et al (2015) Using reflection on your reading for revalidation, which I discovered from LIS-MEDICAL, to structure the discussion questions. The article is emailed in advance along with some questions to prompt reflection. I try to pick articles that can apply to a range of nursing areas; such as telehealth, apps or compassionate care.

Although I send the article in advance, not everyone will have read it or read it in full, so the first ten minutes or so are spent running over the key points. This works as an icebreaker too, since those who are more reluctant have some time while I’m talking. The discussion is more about the themes of the article and how it might apply to nursing practice, rather than a critical appraisal of the paper.


My role is a facilitator, so I encouraged the discussion to be led by the nurses, but guided by myself with prompt questions or follow-up. Sometimes the conversation dies down, especially if it’s a small group, so having a facilitator is valuable here.

The groups have been a lot of mental effort, not just in the group itself but with the preparation of articles and reflection. As a non-expert, reading articles on nursing and thinking of discussion points has been challenging and interesting. I haven’t read articles with such scrutiny since my Masters degree, so although it’s sometimes demanding, it’s a good brain workout.


Of the six groups I’ve scheduled, five have gone ahead, but two of those had only one person turn up. More people were booked to come but didn’t show on the day, so it’s difficult to rearrange in that circumstance. It can be disheartening when so much preparation and time has gone into it, but it’s important not to take it personally – nurses are incredibly busy people, and the feedback for the groups that have gone ahead is positive, so it’s not me!

The hope is that we’ll attract new people to the library, who may not have used the service before, by aligning with a national change.

Personally, I have learnt a lot about developing a program from scratch, promoting it, and evaluating it. I’ve had to tweak things, and deal with the unexpected, but I’m proud despite it occasionally not quite working.