New continuing professional development requirements for nurses and midwives in Australia
With national registration now in place for nurses and midwives in Australia, proof of continuing professional development units are critical for reregistration every year.
Although the new standards have created some confusion and consternation, nurses and midwives now have clear requirements for ongoing education. The process of professional development that has always been carried out unofficially in the Australian health system has now been formalised.
What is continuing professional development (CPD)?
According to the ANMC (2009), ‘Continuing professional development is the means by which members of the profession maintain, improve and broaden their knowledge, expertise and competence, and develop the personal and professional qualities required throughout their professional lives. The CPD cycle involves reviewing practice, identifying learning needs, planning and participating in relevant learning activities, and reflecting on the value of those activities.’
For those of you who are worried about what this means, consider how much active learning you probably undertake in the course of your work without even realising it. One hour of active learning is equivalent to one hour of CPD. Whether you attend inservice education sessions, contribute to research, participate in clinical audits, act as a preceptor or develop skills in other areas such as IT, the hours all add up. This is in addition to attending conferences, presenting a lecture or taking an online education course.
How much CPD do you need to do?
Continuing professional development requirements for reregistration include:
at least 20 hours for registered nurses
at least 20 hours for enrolled (division 2) nurses
at least 20 hours for registered midwives
for nurse practitioners, at least 20 hours for registration as a nurse and/or midwife and a further 10 hours for endorsement
For eligible midwives (those midwives with access to the Medicare Benefits schedule), at least 20 hours for registration as a nurse and/or midwife and a further 20 hours for endorsement.
These hours can be counted any time within the twelve-month period prior to reregistration. If you are not sure how many hours any particular CPD is equivalent to, then ask the association running it.
Are you practicing as both a registered nurse and midwife?
If you want to register as both a nurse and a midwife, you will need to complete twenty hours of CPD for both registers. While this may sound daunting, if the CPD is relevant to both professions (and many subjects are), those hours can count for both.
To make it easy to keep track of your CPD, it is a good idea to fill in a record sheet of your activities for the year. Some employers will be able to provide you with a template, professional organisations such as the ANF have an example on their website, or you can devise your own.
While you do not need to submit evidence of your CPD to the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia annually, you will be required to sign a declaration that you have completed the necessary hours. Evidence of CPD attendance such as dates, number of hours, enrolment forms and payment, score sheets and certificates of participation need to be kept for three years, in case of an audit. Each year, the Board will reserve the right to randomly select a number of their registrants to audit.
Finding an accredited course
Companies like Ausmed, ClinEd and Practice Nursing.Info, the College of Nursing’s online CPD website CNnect and the ANF all offer CPD courses. Professional associations like APNA also provide links to courses run by other providers.
It is in the best interests of health employers to support CPD. Many of the larger health services run a comprehensive program of CPD for staff members, with hospitals like the Royal Women’s Hospital and Western Health listing a CPD calendar online. Wherever you work, it is advisable to speak to your employer about whether inhouse CPD is provided and how staff are supported to achieve the required annual hours for reregistration
Completing the right number of CPD hours may be easier than you think!
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