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Revalidation 3: Practice-related feedback

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Practice-related feedback from colleagues and patients informs the process of reflection and can be used to improve patient care

Citation: Kolyva K (2015) Revalidation 3: Practice-related feedback. Nursing Times; 111: 45, 16.

Author: Katerina Kolyva is director of continued practice, Nursing and Midwifery Council.


Receiving and analysing practice-related feedback is an important part of how nurses and midwives revalidate with the Nursing and Midwifery Council in order to maintain their registration.

Receiving feedback from colleagues or patients is not new and the revalidation pilots have demonstrated that many nurses and midwives already reflect on feedback to analyse what works in practice and what can be improved (NMC, 2015a).

To fulfil this revalidation requirement, nurses and midwives must obtain at least five pieces of practice-related feedback over each three-year registration period. Feedback can inform the five written reflective accounts, which form the basis of reflective discussions. These aspects of the revalidation process were discussed in part 2 of this series.

What is practice-related feedback?

Practice-related feedback can range from a discussion with a manager about continuing professional development to a conversation with colleagues focusing on an event that has occurred in practice (NMC, 2015b). When storing information about feedback you must not record any information that might identify any individual.

Feedback can be obtained from a variety of sources including:

  • Patients or service users;
  • Carers;
  • Students;
  • Colleagues or managers;
  • Teachers;
  • Researchers;
  • Complaints department;
  • Serious event reviews;
  • Annual appraisal feedback.

Feedback can be:

  • About the practice of an individual, team, ward, unit or organisation;
  • Formal or informal;
  • Written or verbal;
  • Positive or constructive.

The case studies in Box 1 give examples that illustrate the role feedback can play in improving practice.

Box 1. Examples from revalidation pilots

A secondary care mental health nurse interviewed a number of new nurses for their first job. Although, overall, the interview process went well, the feedback from the candidates revealed that they felt their knowledge was not adequately tested. As a result of this feedback the nurse planned to discuss with colleagues the potential to change the structure of the interview process so that nurses who are just beginning their career can best demonstrate what they have learnt in their training.

A nurse working on a bowel screening programme asked participants who were undergoing a colonoscopy procedure to evaluate the service. While the feedback was overwhelmingly positive, many patients complained about the taste and volume of the prescribed bowel cleansing agents. As a result of this, the nurse now takes care to explain to all patients the reason for using the product to achieve the best results from the procedure.

Recording feedback

The NMC offers guidance on keeping notes about practice-related feedback (NMC, 2015b). While many organisations offer staff their own template, there is no set format for gathering or recording feedback for revalidation. Feedback notes do not need to be formally submitted as part of the revalidation application but should be used to think constructively about how practice can be improved.


Obtaining and reflecting on feedback provides an opportunity for professionals to engage with one another to discuss what good care looks like. The NMC believes that reflecting on feedback will be crucial in helping everyone on the register to analyse the way in which they deliver care, and to help them make small changes to their working practice that could make a big difference to patients.

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