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Keeping your nursing practice updated

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Staying up-to-date can be challenging, but there are ways nurses can meet their CPD requirements without breaking the bank

Nurses are required to keep themselves updated in order to re-register and practice within clinical settings.

I believe this requirement can lead to an increase in enthusiasm, can keep individuals passionate about nursing or even restoke the fire if the embers are burning low.

There are a number of ways nurses can keep updated within the educational field; some more formal than others.

Bedside teaching or informal sharing of practice probably takes place more often than healthcare professionals realise and this can be a useful and easy way to impart knowledge. Lecture practitioners within hospital trusts do this to a more formal degree but there is evidence of this happening between team members on varying levels of engagement.

There are also more modern ways of keeping up-to-date, such as teleconferences. 

For a number of years, I’ve been part of a group that assists Novartis Oncology with their teleconferences aimed at breast nurse specialists.

Essentially, they realised it was perhaps tricky for nurses to attend conferences and came up with an alternative way to disseminate information: by offering pre-advertised teleconferences. Individuals who register as interested in the upcoming topic are sent the pdf of the presentation slides beforehand. They then dial into the session where they hear an esteemed healthcare professional give the lecture, while following the slides from the comfort and ease of their desk.

The McGrath Foundation: my keynote address

Conferences are still a preferred method of keeping knowledge up to date. While it is vital for new information to be delivered and given an audience, there is also recognition that the attending delegates have a wealth of experience that should be tapped into. Conferences provide an opportunity for delegates to learn through sharing practice and benchmarking. The networking opportunities that conferences provide should not be underestimated, often the informal sessions are the most popular.

Recently I was asked to provide the Keynote Address at The McGrath Foundation ‘Working Together to Support Patients with Secondary Breast Cancer Conference’ in Sydney, which was an absolute delight.

The McGrath Foundation raises money to place McGrath breast care nurses in communities right across Australia as well as increasing breast awareness in young women. 

Their unique conference featured local experts and prominent guest speakers. It offered breast care nurses, and nurses interested in breast cancer, an opportunity to find out about the latest clinical updates in the management of people with secondary breast cancer.

Being invited to give the Keynote Address at this event was a wonderful honour for me personally, as well as an oppportunity to increase awareness of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust where I work.

The day and a half conference was pioneering as it concentrated its content and focus entirely on secondary breast cancer. The programme was a perfect balance of didactic sessions accompanied with discussion, giving opportunities to share and benchmark practice and challenges. 

As well as my lecture components, I also took part in a round table discussion with some pivotal nurses working within this clinical setting in Australia.

During this session, we discussed issues and challenges experienced within the workplace. It quickly became apparent that many difficulties UK breast nurse specialists experience are the same as those experienced by their Australian counterparts. Although this could result in these matters gaining a reputation of being somewhat impenetrable, it was reassuring to listen to others and hear their strategic visions and problem-solving ideas.

Evaluations from the conference were encouraging; 100% of respondents said they had learnt new information, and many followed up on my ‘call to action’ with plans of how they would make a change within their clinical practice.

Staying updated

As nurses we must not forget the alternative ways we can keep ourselves updated; through courses, conferences, web-based activities, online learning, or through bedside teaching or more informal sharing of practice. 

Keeping active not only means we need to register our needs and make sure they are met, we also need to raise our heads above the parapet and volunteer to take an active role in sharing our own knowledge with colleagues. Financial constraints can mean it’s not always possible to attend conferences, but conference organisers often pay travel fees for those giving the lectures at the meeting; even more reason to get involved!

So as we horizon-scan for the next educational activity that suits our individual needs, do remember that one day it will be you that people are listening to, and so you may as well jump into this with both feet and get started now!


Victoria Harmer is team leader/clinical nurse specialist, breast care, at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London


Keep your practice up-to-date

Nursing Times Learning units are each worth 2 hours of CPD and can be completed at your convenience online.


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  • Could someone please tell me what volume and issue number this article is in please

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