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Allison is a registered nurse and senior health policy adviser with some 25 years experience. Prior to launching CPD Nurse Escapes, Allison worked as a private consultant for a diverse range of clients in the government and non-government, health, community and education sectors. Allison has an extensive background in regulation, governance and professional practice and applies this in education, policy development and project management. Allison was the Principal Advisor, Professional Practice at the Nursing & Midwifery Board of South Australia, for 10 years where she was responsible for developing nursing and midwifery policy and standards and advising and educating nurses and midwives on professional practice issues.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Nurses and midwives are self-regulating professionals (CPD Part 2)

We hear this all of the time. If we are self-regulating why are we now required to complete mandatory continuing professional development and why will the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) be randomly auditing nurses and midwives to determine if we have met these requirements? 

The answer is easy really. We have National Competencies for nursing and midwifery practice. These Competencies are the benchmark against which we assess our practice against a minimum standard. It enables us to determine our level of competence and areas of practice that we need to develop further to maintain this competence. As licensed health professionals we are accountable for our practice, our professional judgment and our decision and actions. In doing so we must be able to demonstrate that we are competent in our area of practice. 

We have for many years been required to complete a statutory declaration, as part of our registration requirement, in which we declare that we are competent to practice. (We also declare that we have recency of practice, that we do not have any criminal convictions, that we are fit to practice (eg do not have any impairments) and that we practice against the Competency Standards). Now the Board has determined that we must have be able to demonstrate this competence is required. The process by which the Board has determined we do this is through annual CPD.   If we declare that we are competent to obtain our license to practice, then we must be able to provide evidence to support this declaration. The Board is exercising their mandate to protect the public by randomly sampling nurses and midwives to ensure we undertake appropriate professional development to maintain our competence. 

Individual nurses and midwives, as members of self-regulating professions, are responsible for:

·      Demonstrating commitment to continuing competence through life-long learning, reflective
     practice and integrating learning into their practice
·      Ensuring that their competencies are relevant and up-to-date on a continuing basis in relation
    to the clients/women they serve
·      Seeking out quality educational experiences relevant to their area of practice
·      Supporting each other in demonstrating, developing and maintaining competence
·      Working with employers to ensure that their workplaces support continuing competence, and
·      Meeting the requirements of their regulatory body for continuing competence (CNA 2004)

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 these activities (ANMC 2009).

The challenge for us is not to complete professional development, our professions have always demonstrated a culture or commitment to ongoing education and training to ensure our continuing competence. The challenge is in formally documenting the evidence of this learning and articulating how it supports and impacts upon our competence. Further, as much if not most of our learning is self directed, the challenge will be to appropriately reflect on and document this learning, something that many of us are not familiar with.


Canadian Nursing Association and Canadian Schools of Nursing Joint Position Statement Promoting Continuing Competence for Registered Nurses June 2004 (Adapted by author)

ANMC (Australian Nursing and Midwifery Council) (2009): Continuing Competence Framework for Nursing and Midwives Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia: Guidelines for Continuing Professional Development

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