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By ANMF Professional Officers Julianne Bryce, Elizabeth Foley and Julie Reeves

How hard is it for people to keep up with change? Sometimes it feels like there is so much happening it’s impossible to keep track. At the same time, if you stay in the profession long enough you’ll feel like there’s nothing new under the sun.

Often it’s difficult to believe so much time has passed when you’re due to review documents again that surely were last reviewed only yesterday. Feels like Groundhog Day? Just today someone quoted to me that ‘the days are long but the years are short’.

It’s been seven years since the commencement of the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (NRAS). Hard to believe isn’t it? Since 2010, we no longer use the term division 2 to refer to enrolled nurses, we no longer have endorsed enrolled nurses (EENs) and there’s no point system for CPD.

Nobody understood what a so called CPD point equated to anyway, so logic prevailed and now we refer to CPD hours rather than points. Makes sense doesn’t it?

What a relief you say?

Unfortunately old habits die hard. Reference to Div 2s, EENs and CPD points persist. Nevertheless, we can assure you these terms are all gone for good.

We all understand the importance of CPD as nurses and midwives. Our professions require us to keep up to date, maintain our knowledge and be inspired about how we can provide better care outcomes. Through CPD processes we can reflect on our own professional needs and undertake education to broaden our knowledge and expertise.

The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA, the Board) Registration Standard: Continuing Professional Development sets out the minimum requirements for CPD for enrolled nurses, registered nurses and midwives. The Standard applies to all nurses and midwives who work either full-time or part-time, in paid or unpaid employment, even if they’re on leave from work. They apply to a nurse manager, for example who is managing a burns unit or a director of nursing of a large health facility, a nurse working in the community in aged care or even the chief nursing and midwifery officer of the country. We are all required to meet the same standards outlined by the NMBA if you hold general registration as a nurse or midwife.

To meet the Board’s Standard, you must complete a minimum of 20 hours of CPD per 12 month registration period. If you are a nurse or midwife with an endorsement then you must also complete an additional 10 hours related to that endorsement. If you are a dual registrant, both a nurse and midwife, you must complete the required CPD for both nursing and midwifery. The good news is, if your CPD activities are relevant to both professions, the NMBA allows you to count those activities as evidence of both nursing and midwifery CPD hours.

Along with the requirement of a minimum number of CPD hours the Board also require nurses and midwives to keep records of your CPD activities for a period of five years. There is not a mandated tool that you need to use however there are key requirements that you need to document with each CPD activity.

These include:

All evidence should be verified, and it must demonstrate that the nurse or midwife has:

  • identified and prioritised their learning needs, based on their self-reflection and evaluation of their practice against the relevant competency or professional practice standard;
  • developed a learning plan based on identified learning needs;
  • participated in effective learning activities appropriate to their learning needs, and
  • reflected on the value of the learning activities or the effect that participation will have on their practice. (NMBA, 2016)

One of the difficulties our members sometimes struggle with when they are audited by the Board is the requirement for reflection and how it is documented. This section ensures that the regulator understands that you have reflected on the outcome of the CPD activity. They want you to document the extent to which the activity met your identified learning need. Therefore did it meet it or not? If the answer is YES then how did it change or impact your practice? If it only partially met your learning need or it did not meet your learning need at all, then what is your next step to achieve the identified learning need?

On the NMBA website the Board provide a sample template that you can use with examples of how each section can be documented. Each state and territory branch of the ANMF also provide various tools and resources, sometimes referred to as a portfolio that can assist you in keeping the required CPD cycle documentation.

So remember, time moves quickly and even though sometimes it feels like Groundhog Day we are all required by the regulator to formally document our CPD cycle of planning, completing CPD activities and reflecting upon the outcome of the activity completed.