A Quick Guide to Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

The National Registration and Accreditation Scheme stipulates that all nurses and midwives must meet the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia’s Continuing Professional Development (CPD) requirements to maintain their registration. CPD courses for nurses in Australia allow them to consistently and continuously maintain, improve and broaden their knowledge, allowing for better patient outcomes.

There are several ways nurses and midwives in Australia can undertake continuing professional development. Since this is considered an essential part of being registered in the healthcare industry, many nurses and midwives look for different ways to meet their minimum CPD hours. Nurses and midwives are expected to complete at least 20 hours of CPD per year to continue being registered and enrolled. These CPD hours must be relevant to their area of practice.

The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) recommends completing a range of CPD activities to meet your requirements and stretch them throughout your registration. Below are some of the ways nursing professionals can meet their CPD requirements:

  • Postgraduate studies
  • Attending workshops, conferences and seminars, discussion groups and technical meetings, whether online or in-person
  • Inservice education
  • Authoring a paper or book chapter
  • Journal club participation
  • Completing short courses
  • Having an article published in a peer-reviewed journal
  • Acting as a preceptor, mentor or tutor
  • Participating in clinic audits and incident monitoring sessions
  • Developing policy, protocols or guidelines.

The Benefits of CPD for Nurses and Midwives

By undergoing continuing professional development, nurses and midwives ensure they stay updated on the latest advancements in the healthcare industry. Nurses and midwives play a major role in the quality of care awarded to patients and are some of the people patients are likely to interact with the most. A good bedside manner is essential for being an empathetic nurse or midwife. Still, nurses and midwives also need to stay up to date on training for their professional development and the well-being of their patients.

Moreover, CPD allows employers to assess if their nursing professionals require extra support in a certain area. It also empowers healthcare professionals and assures senior staff members of their team’s ability to confidently handle different situations. This improves efficiency in a medical team and allows them to offer better care to patients. Lastly, CPD also helps nurses and midwives advance in their careers and move into new positions as they gain more experience.

The CPD Process

The CPD process typically follows a five-step process, i.e. Reflection, Planning, Action, Documentation and Evaluation.

  • Reflection: In this step of the process, a medical professional must think carefully about their profession and identify gaps in their expertise.
  • Planning: Then, the professional decides what, where, when and how they will learn to fill those gaps.
  • Action: Over the year, the professional learns new skills and hones previously-held skills, completing their CPD hour requirements.
  • Documentation: This step is followed alongside the previous step. A nursing professional undergoing CPD is required to keep a record of their CPD activities for a minimum of five years in case they need to be audited. The NMBA provides a self-directed CPD evidence record to make it easier for professionals to document and plan their CPD activities.
  • Evaluation: Finally, the professional is expected to reflect on their year and evaluate their learnings. If there are still some gaps in their learning or expertise, they might use their CPD hours for the next year to fill this gap.

While CPD is primarily considered a self-guided activity, many nursing professionals discuss their gaps with their managers, peers, mentors or supervisors for an objective view of their limitations. Moreover, patient feedback can indicate a need for more training in a particular area.

Pro Rata CPD

While nurses and midwives are expected to complete at least 20 hours of CPD per year, in certain situations, a nurse or midwife may register or get endorsed or notated partway through a registration period. In this case, pro rata CPD requirements will apply. These are:

  • Registering Partway Through a Registration Period:
Months registration has been heldCPD Hours
0-3 months≥ 5 hours
3-6 months≥ 10 hours
6-9 months≥ 15 hours
9-12 months≥ 20 hours
  • Getting Endorsed/Notated Partway Through a Registration Period:
Months endorsement/notation has been heldCPD Hours
0-3 months≥ 2.5 hours
> 3-6 months≥ 5 hours
> 6-9 months≥ 7.5 hours
> 9-12 months≥ 10 hours

Accessing CPD Courses

Many organisations, such as accrediting agencies in healthcare and dedicated CPD providers, offer CPD courses for nurses in Australia. Nursing professionals looking to further their education using online or face-to-face courses can refer to the following sources: