Learning for life: debriefing

Life Long Learning and Continuing Professional Development are the processes
by which professionals, such as nurses, develop and improve their practice.

There are many ways to address CPD: formally, through attending courses, study
days and workshops or informally, through private study and reflection. Reading
articles in professional journals is a good way of keeping up-to-date with what
is going on in the field of practice, but reflecting and identifying what you
have learnt is not always easy. These questions are designed to help you to
identify what you have learnt from studying the article. They will also help
you to clarify what you can apply to practice, what you did not understand and
what you need to explore further.

1. How many years has debriefing been around? Over

a) 10
b) 20
c) 30
d) 40

2. With regards to debriefing, this article is a

a) Review of the literature
b) Review of the research
c) Critical appraisal
d) Practitioners response

3. Debriefed employees generally

a) Return to work and suffer less anxiety
b) Require more debriefing
c) Have a phobic reaction to work
d) Cannot concentrate

4. One of the questions asked when evaluating debriefing is

a) How many people have benefited?
b) Is it a time-consuming process?
c) What are they trying to achieve?
d) What is the cost?

5. Which model does the author use?

a) Cathartic
b) Cognitive
c) Transactional analysis
d) Reflective

6. A major aspect of debriefing is

a) Group sessions
b) To achieve a sense of cognitive control
c) The learning experience
d) To piece together what happened

7. Debriefing is a

a) Complicated process
b) Simple process
c) Structured process
d) Instructive process

8. How many basic principles of debriefing does the author give?

a) 3
b) 4
c) 5
d) 6

9. Debriefing helps people to understand that their reactions are

a) Usual
b) Unusual
c) Abnormal
d) Normal

10. The most common reason for people going off sick after a traumatic
incident at work is they are angry that

a) The Government is not doing enough
b) The NHS is not doing enough
c) Their organisation does not care enough
d) Their colleagues do not care enough


Although this article is a practitioners response it is worth doing a
literature search for evidence. The RCN Library has 26 references on debriefing
following critical incidents. Occupational Health has published three recent
articles and these are worth revisiting. "Going off the rails" (March
2001 vol 53 no 3); "Call to crisis" (May 2000 vol 52 no 5) and
"Calming Force" (March 2000 vol 52 no 3) in order to gain a broader
perspective; 3.a); 4.c); 5.b) Refresh your knowledge of the different
types and models used in counselling; 6.c); 7.a); 8.b); 9.d); 10.c) Now
you have read this article, completed the questions and undertaken further
reading, discuss with your colleagues or clinical supervisor the benefits of
debriefing after critical incidents. Has your organisation got a policy for
dealing with critical incidents? If not, jot down some notes on what you think
should be in such a policy and how you go about introducing the policy to the

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