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According to Julianne Bryce, the ANMF’s Senior Federal Professional Officer, reflection is the cornerstone of a nurse or midwife’s CPD practice.

“You should start and finish with reflection: It should be both ends of the CPD cycle,” Julianne says.

“You begin the process by reflecting on what you need, and then you finish the process by reflecting on what you’ve learnt and how that’s been incorporated into your practice… It’s really the key to the whole process.”

However, while reflection is crucial, Julianne says it works better when it is designed as a holistic and intentional part of the learning process, as opposed to something that is simply an “incidental” part of a nurse or midwife’s registration obligations.

“You’re identifying what you want to do, what you want to learn… rather than just going back [and] counting the hours that you’ve done incidentally,” she says.

To ensure that nurses and midwives get the most out of their learning, Julianne says there are plenty of ways to take a more creative approach to meeting CPD requirements, including the following tips and tricks:

  • Think constructively about the full spectrum of your work experience: While conferences, forums, off-site and tertiary education can make up a big part of your learning experiences, Julianne says it is also important to reflect on your mandatory, in-work training where new learnings are identified, especially in areas like simulation and mock emergency education scenarios.

“You could take new learnings from those activities even if you’ve completed basic life support training every year for many years,” she says. “You need to recognise that and think about what’s changed and how that, in turn, may change your practice.”

  • Use your own initiative and interact with others around you: Julianne says that self-directed learning also encourages creative thinking, with the opportunity to learn from and with practitioners in other disciplines.

“All health practitioners are required to complete mandatory, continuing professional development, so your learning doesn’t just have to be within your profession, it can be across professions as well,” she explains.

  • Organise groups to discuss policies, procedures and articles: Julianne says another group activity that helps facilitate learning is group discussion of work-relevant documents, like a CPD-variation on a book club. Groups can meet up to discuss and analyse various sorts of documents to understand how they influence day-to-day practice.

“You could come ready to discuss those [documents] as a group in your workplace,” she says. “That’s something that could be half-an-hour a week, a fortnight or month, and those hours would add up very quickly to be quite a substantial part of your CPD.”

  • Take advantage of a changing technological environment: “COVID’s given us an opportunity to get access to an absolute plethora of … materials, that are coming to us in a much more accessible way, and a lot of the time, at no cost,” Julianne says, noting that technology can enable more convenient learning.

“It just means that if you have the opportunity for online learning, and all the technology that goes with it, then you can do it at home when you can… The schedule fits you; you don’t have to fit the schedule.”

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