There are substantial changes taking place within healthcare delivery in the United Kingdom. These have a significant impact upon student education, both in academic delivery and within the practice environment. The recent White Paper (Department of Health, 2010) suggests that care is changing and the primary focus is on patient choice and improving the cost efficiency of services. Thus, healthcare practitioners are challenged with maintaining a high quality of patient care whilst making productivity savings. Innovative practice is essential to ensure that patients’ needs are met whilst meeting the requirements of the life long learning agenda. Using digital technologies to support educational processes is one method of promoting timely, effective, patient centred care.
Underpinning workforce development and ultimately improving patient care, is the process of continuing professional development (CPD). Healthcare professionals therefore have a personal and professional responsibility to ensure that the patient is at the forefront of care and demonstrate their own skills in managing that care. To support this process, it is fundamental that a variety of methods of facilitating CPD are embedded within undergraduate programmes so that students can begin the career-long process of professional development.
The advent of Web 2.0 technologies has provided a number of new opportunities for restructuring of healthcare services as well as offering virtual support to students (Gleaves, 2007). This paper will focus on the concept of using web logs (‘blogs’), within an eportfolio, as a method of providing students with a virtual community of practice to enhance their professional development. We also consider the underpinning evidence base for the reflective process as a fundamental element of CPD and the importance of fostering a reflective culture in order to ensure high quality patient centred care (Cross et al, 2006).