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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.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

So How Do I Get Started on my Annual CPD Portfolio?

As I have outlined previously on this topic, the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA), have determined the requirements for annual Continuing Professional Development (outlined under The CPD Registration Standard (1 July 2010).

The NMBA requires that you;
  • undertake CPD relevant to the context of your practice
  • keep documentation of CPD hours completed
  • document dates, description of outcomes, number of hours spent on each activity - where your CPD is self directed
  • ensure your learning activities are verified
  • identify and prioritise learning needs (based on evaluation of your practice against the relevant Competency Standards
  • develop a learning plan (based on your learning needs)
  • participate in effective learning activities (relevant to your identified learning needs)
  • reflect on the values of each learning activity and its relevance to and impact on your practice. 

This is all very well, however the Board does not outline for nurses and midwives how to undertake these assessments or how to identify learning goals or 'effective' learning activities. Nor does it provide a structure  against which to development the required documentation to the Board  should we be selected.
Here are some tips that might help as a way to get started.

 1. Assess your competence against the ANMC National Competency Standards 

Download them from:  www.nursingmidwiferyboard.gov.au  

Read them! You may never have actually done this before (if that is the case you are not alone) It is not that most nurses and midwives don't recognise their importance. It's more that the standards are seen as compilation of hero statements that whilst no-one disagrees with, they are difficult to apply to clinical practice (a bit abstract).

The National Competencies are structured under three or four main headings.

  • Domain

  • These are primary domains of nursing practice. A domain is a set or sphere (area) of activities, functions or values are shared between the activities.

  • Competency Unit

  • Within each domain there are several identified competency units. eg There are ten competency units identified in the Competency Standards for Registered Nurses

  • Competency Element

  • Within each Competency Unit there are any number of key elements of practice.
  • These elements are written in such a way that they describe the behaviour or knowledge base of a nurse or midwife who is competent in this element of practice.
  • Each competency element has a number of descriptors that assist in further describing the behaviour and knowledge of a nurse or midwife, competent in this unit. 

You should reflect on each of the competency elements, and their descriptors to assess your own level of competence against each unit. In undertaking this self-assessment you may ask yourself - Is my behaviour and knowledge consistent with this element?  

At the end of this assessment (against all of the competency units in the standard) you can reocrd those areas of competence that you have identified a need to develop further. 

 2. Develop your Learning Goals

From these identified areas for development you can decide which of them you want to focus on as part of your professional development over the next twelve months.  These areas of development become your Learning Goals and can be written up as a formal goal (ie as a measurable outcome) in your CPD Learning Plan.  

If this is the first time you have used the Competency Standards to formally assess your competence, you may find that there are a number of competency units or elements that you are not really familiar with so have identified them as requiring some level of professional development. In reality, and to ensure that your CPD Goals are achievable, you might consider further reviewing these until you have a more focused set of Learning Goals. You should have no more than about four or five learning goals at most in a twelve month Learning Plan. 

3. Source your Learning Activities

Now that you have a number of concise, realistic, achievable, measurable Learning Goals (not more than 4-5) you will need to source/research your Learning Activities. Consider how beat to achieve the learning that you identified in your competency assessment.  Remember that to achieve each Learning Goal you will probably undertake a number of activities. These activities will be varied and may include such things as attending a seminar, journal readings, a clinical assessment etc. You should also consider your learning style and select activities that are most accommodating of your preferred learning style, time, cost and relevance.

 For each Learning Goal you may source three of four activities that will assist you to achieve the learning goal. Many of these activities will be self directed (eg reading current journal acticles, updating practical skills in certain procedures), some may be supported by colleagues (eg laising/meeting with a nurse specialist, seeking a peer assessment or feedback) others may be provided by an external resource such as an on-line learning program or seminar/lecture. A combination of activities across this spectrum may for example ensure you have updated your knowledge, sought clarification with experts and up skilled your clinical practice.

4. Develop your Annual Learning Plan

Your Learning Plan should demonstrate a twelve month schedule of identified learning goals, associated relevant learning activities for each of these goals and the number of hours of CPD you have completed for each of these Goals.  

Note: The NMBA CPD Standard does not specify how many Learning Goals you are required to achieve in a twelve month Learning Plan. They are looking to establish, from your documentation and evidence, that you have competed a self assessment of your competence, determined appropriate learning required to enhance and maintain your competence and completed the mandatory number of hours of CPD. As a self regulating  practitioner the Board requires that you are able to determine your own level of competence and learning requirements. 

You may consider preparing a two year Learning Plan and reviewing it as a flexible and continuous plan over time to which you add new learning goals and activities as they arise or are needed and completing others in a structured time frame. If you are selected for audit you can them submit the last twelve months documentation. Your Learning Plan is more a sliding scale than a fixed document with a fixed endpoint.

4. Record, reflect and evaluate

You will need to ensure that you have well documented evidence of completion of your learning activities. Don't photocopy everything! The examiner is not going to wade through extensive photocopied pages to try to identify which sections were most relevant to your learning. 

You may for example identify the need to update your knowledge of relevant organisational policies and procedures. Do not photocopy the procedure manual and put it in your portfolio! You may however write a short summary and analysis of the relevant procedures and how they apply to your practice and include a one page copy of the manual contents page.

And don't panic about achieving the required 20 hours of CPD.  Once you have a clear set of learning activities you will realise how quickly that time is achieved. Be critical when determining the actual hours of learning. The CPD Standard required that 1 hour of CPD = 1 hour of active learning.  

So..... if you sit down one afternoon and read through a couple of back issues of the professional journal you subscribe to and find that three hours have gone by, but you stopped for lunch, and later a coffee, and then talked for a bit on the phone...... then consider whether your active learning component was actually three hours, or whether than one key article you read that was very relevant to your current area of practice and provided you with a number of knew pieces of information was your actual learning activity. 

Then write up a summary of that article, what your key learning outcomes were, how you intend to apply them to your practice, what other research you intend to do on the topic..... sign and date it... and record it as 1 hour of CPD. (You have just self verified your learning activity)

Your on your way.

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