Self-Selected Activity: Completing your Practice Improvement Record this Summer

  •   July 5, 2019
  •   By: Audrey Lowe

It’s summer; it’s sunny. I imagine for most your thoughts are focused on enjoying the sunshine rather than worrying about wrapping up your Self-Selected Activity and completing your Practice Improvement Record (PIR). Perhaps you want to procrastinate and leave the reporting piece until September when the fall schedules ramp up. But, wait! I am advocating that you grab a pint (of anything), go outside and spend all the time you need to do a good job to write up your Practice Improvement Record. It’s likely that when you approach completing the forms in a relaxed state, it might turn out to be a better experience than you think.

When the Self-Selected Activity was developed, it was with the mindset that the reporting would foster reflection and learning and require less time for completion than its predecessor (the Reflective Practice Review). To understand if we achieved our goals, we asked physiotherapists who pilot tested the Practice Improvement Record the following:

Q1: To what extent do you agree or disagree that writing about your Self-Selected activity in the Practice Improvement Record contributed to learning (Likert rating scale with anchors from Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree)?

Q2: Include any comments you wish to provide about your rating.

Q3: On average how much time did you spend completing the PIR?

Here is a snapshot of what the pilot testers told us.

Q1: Contributed to Learning Q2: Pilot Tester Comments Q3: Completion Time
Strongly agree I think it was good to have to write about it as it really helps you reflect on your learning experience and what you really learned and how that has improved your care with patients. As mine was fairly recent it is a bit too soon to know the more long-term effects of the treatment, but in future years to also think about how your knowledge has benefited your patients and their outcomes. This was good to do this year as the next year I will really try and think more concretely how this has benefited the clients 1 hour
Strongly agree Writing about what you learned makes it stick and sink in. It forced me to evaluate the material. 2 hours
Strongly agree Though self reflecting is something we do on a continuing basis actually having to put pen to paper makes you think a little deeper and does contribute to the GROW aspect of the reflection. 8 hours (includes entire pilot test not just write up)
Agree Reflection on what was learned helped reinforce the knowledge gained from the activity and how it affects practice 1-2 hours
Agree It was good to reflect on the course objectives and whether the course impacted what I do to the extent I wanted it to.  As I was doing the reflection activity I thought of and made notes on how to better use the information I learned. Overall I think it was positive and a valuable exercise. 2 hours
Neither agree or disagree I believe that simply reporting the learning activity to demonstrate what was completed is the important part. I have yet to fully commit to the learning science stating that “reflection” is an effective use of time. One has to really commit to the effort to have it pay off. Up to 2 hours
Disagree I believe that if you are in an isolated setting doing the Practice Improvement Record will help reflect on what you learned; however, if you are in a setting with multiple physiotherapists, discussing the activity contributes more to learning because there are multiple different views on the activity. 2 hours


The pilot test showed:

  • Many agreed that completion of the practice improvement record helped contribute to learning.
  • Completing forms extended the learning cycle, consolidated learning, and helped one to focus on the broader impacts of practice.
  • Many spent a longer time completing their PIR than Physiotherapy Alberta staff anticipated.
  • Despite longer completion times, pilot testers thought that the time spent was worthwhile because it helped them to LEARN and GROW and think deeply about how their efforts improved their practice.
  • Physiotherapists who treated completion as reporting exercise didn’t gain as much benefit as physiotherapists who used reporting to consolidate learning and for quality improvement and practice review.
  • Some physiotherapists preferred other means to consolidate learning such as working in a group setting rather than an individualized reflection exercise.

The PIR was structured to flexibly accommodate stories from physiotherapists who learn by:

  • Attending formally organized courses
  • Participating in self-organized activities
  • Pursue activities leading to non-formal learning (i.e., learning is a by-product of participation)
  • Workplace learning

Many types of activities have been shown to enhance competence and improve performance. It is your story that will show how you learned and improved practice.

This summer carve out some time in the sun to complete your PIR. Don’t rush, give yourself enough time to reflect and answer the questions thoroughly. This is an opportunity to review, check up on facts and envision better practice and outcomes for your clients. When you review your record, you will be able to look back to see what you learned and celebrate your accomplishments. Make PIR completion part of your summer fun.

“I felt this was much more relevant and that any professional will see the value in being truthful and taking the time to do it well. Past years I was just trying to get it done but this time I actually enjoyed it and found myself doing more than I thought I would.”

Questions? Comments. Contact Audrey Lowe Manager Continuing Competence Program 1.800.291.2782  780.438.0338