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After Action Reviews (AAR) What are they?

An AAR is a short discussion that can be held at any time and enables the individuals involved to learn for themselves what happened, what went well, what needs improvement and what lessons can be learned from the experience.

The spirit of an AAR is one of openness and learning. It is not about problem fixing or allocating blame. Lessons are not only shared by the individuals involved but can be documented and shared with a wider audience.


An AAR can be used in an incident, for a project or at the end of the day or shift. It can be undertaken by a group or an individual as they ask themselves four questions:

By using these four questions AARs improve communication and team working. Examples of where AARs have been used in the NHS include:

Even if an event has gone well and according to plan, it is always useful to undertake an AAR as there is always areas for continuous improvement.

YouTube has several videos including the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Centre simulating an AAR after a controlled burn and highlighting the basic techniques. The second video covers points to help the facilitator/conductor when leading an AAR.

South East Coast NHS have produced a number of eLearning programmes.

Some Further Reading

Gerada, Dr Clare. Trust me…I’m a leader. March 2013. NHS Confederation.

Walker, Judy, Andrews, Steve, Grewcock, Dave, Halligan, Aidan. Life in the Slow Lane: making hospitals safer, slowly but surely. J R Soc Med 2012: 105: p283-287.

Cronin, Gerard and Andrews, Steven. After action reviews: a new model for learning. Emergency Nurse: June 2009. Vol. 17(3). p32-35