We live in an ever-changing world with our environment constantly subjected to change and modernisation, there seems to always be some sort of development. This is particularly true in the dynamic field of health and medicine. In such a fast-evolving and ever-growing industry the significance of education has never been more important. With methods and procedures being updated and enhanced, new more effective or safer drugs being synthesised and greater knowledge learnt regarding disease and illness, education has become an ongoing and never-ending aspect of health professionals’ lives.
“Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is how health practitioners maintain, improve and broaden their knowledge, expertise and competence and develop the personal and professional qualities required throughout their professional lives.” – AHPRA. So, what constitutes as CPD? There are no mandatory or prescribed activities or limitations on the types or number of activities a nurse can complete. They can also be undertaken in a wide range of ways from being self-directed, workplace based or via formal programs offered by professional organisations and education providers.
CPD courses for nurses reflect the skills, expertise and awareness required to provide responsive, standard care to patients, to support nurses in reflecting on and processing the impact of work and to implement change in a contemporary context in a sustained and meaningful way. They provide pathways for developing and improving a nurses’ clinical practice and workplace cultures and structures. There are many different avenues which nurses can follow in order to further broaden their general knowledge and contribute to CPD including:
- Enrolling in traditional or online degree programs.
- Watching online webinars and videos.
- Joining nursing associations.
- Receiving on-the-job training.
- Researching and reading nursing journals, articles and evidence-based literature.
- Volunteering on committees.
- Collaborating with other healthcare professionals.
- Short courses/ workshops
- Discussion groups through a professional group or organisation who may issue a certificate of compliance/completion.
- Attending conferences, lectures, seminars or professional meetings
- Participating on accreditation, audit or quality improvement committees
This is not only to enhance knowledge and skills, but to improve performance resulting in greater quality of care provided to the patient. As the knowledge needed to function effectively as a professional nurse or midwife continues to change and expand, consumer demand and expectations continue to increase. Therefore, registered health practitioners have an obligation to maintain their competence and professionalism whilst aiming for continuous improvement in the standard of care they provide.
The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) requires practising nurses and midwives to:
- Identify their learning needs
- Develop a brief learning plan
- Participate in CPD activities
- Reflect on the value of these activities to their practice.
Poor or outdated education and a lack of sufficient knowledge can lead to mistakes which can prove to be costly for people’s health. Improved knowledge is an essential tool for prevention of errors, by ensuring nurses are engaged in continual learning throughout their working career to facilitate workforce mobility and so workplace development is enhanced.
For health practitioners who are engaged in any form of practice, it is mandatory to participate regularly in CPD relevant to their scope of practice as is outlined by AHPRA. Registered nurses and midwives for instance are required to complete at least 20 hours of CPD during each registration year. The current registration requirements for nurses are: Registered Nurse – 20 hours per year, Registered Midwife – 20 hours per year, Enrolled Nurse – 20 hours per year. As a nurse and/or midwife, you are due to renew your general or non-practising registration annually by 31 May under the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme. You are able to check your registration details and expiry date on the national register. If you do not renew your registration by 31 May, or within the one-month late period, your name will be removed from the national register and your registration will lapse in accordance with the National Law.
At Best Practice Nursing Agency (BPNA) the importance of ongoing education is strongly recognised via our professional development and client satisfaction, as we continually aim to assist our nurses in staying up-to-date with current practice standards. By providing quality education programs and constantly reviewing our training procedures to meet compliance with new legislation and of course client requirements. To ensure our nurses meet CPD requirements set by the Nursing and Midwife Board of Australia, we provide a number of online courses through The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF)which contribute to continuing professional education online. Our recruitment processes ensure each and every nurse who is hired are held to the APHRA standards regarding registration, but also their ongoing education. By ensuring that only suitably qualified, ethical and up to date nurses are accepted for providing appropriate services, but also keeping the clients safe.
Staying up to date with ongoing education can sometimes be challenging, but with the right support and avenues, it can feel like a breeze. There are many alternative ways nurses can keep themselves updated; through course conferences, web-based activities, online learning or more informal sharing of practice. Informal sharing of practice usually occurs more often than healthcare professionals may realise whilst at work. It may be one of the easiest ways to gain new knowledge, interacting between team members on a regular basis can be extremely beneficial. Consider shadowing another nurse in an unfamiliar specialty, volunteer to float to other nursing unit, find a mentor, or even consider becoming one to a new nurse to broaden your professional network. Ongoing education in nursing is a vital part of any nurses critical-thinking skills required to solve issues they will come across while working and caring for patients. By following new techniques and procedures, nurses can increase positive patient outcomes, reduce errors, mortality rates and also forge strong positive relationships with patients and colleagues. By staying current and up to date in your practice, long life learning can be exciting when you have the right resources in place. Ongoing education is particularly important in recent times concerning the spread of COVID-19. It is vital all necessary precautions are taken by nurses to not only keep the public safe, but ensure their own safety as well. Therefore being educated on the matter will prove to be extremely significant when conducting nursing work in a healthcare environment. In turn, nurses and midwives are reminded to keep up to date with COVID-19, this can be achieved via COVID-19 in-services, reading and reflecting on COVID-19 journal articles and COVID-19 infection control training such as online training modules which all count towards CPD. By doing so, our healthcare system will only improve and be better equipped to handle the problems we face today.