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Revalidation 7: Continuing professional development

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Continuing professional development ensures nurses and midwives maintain safe and effective practice, improve practice and develop new skills

Citation: Kolyva K (2015) Revalidation 7: Continuing professional development. Nursing Times; 111: 49/50, 17.

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


Throughout this series of articles, we have been seeking to address assumptions that revalidation is something to be afraid of, that it is asking nurses and midwives to do new things. The truth is that there are a number of elements to revalidation with which nurses and midwives will already be very familiar. One of these areas is continuing professional development (CPD).

CPD is vital as it ensures nurses and midwives “maintain safe and effective practice, improve practice or develop new skills” (Nursing and Midwifery Council, 2015). Just as important, CPD allows health professionals to react and respond to changes and advances in nursing and midwifery so they can be at the very forefront of their practice.


As most nurses and midwives will be aware, CPD is already a requirement under the current post-registration education and practice (Prep) system. Under revalidation, CPD plays an even greater role.

Under the current Prep system you are required to undertake 35 hours of CPD – this is something that will stay the same as we move to the new revalidation process. However, one important change is that 20 of these hours will need to be “participatory learning”. The remaining 15 hours can be non-participatory. Box 1 gives the definition of each of these two different types of learning.  

Box 1. Definition of participatory and non-participatory learning

Participatory learning - The Nursing and Midwifery Council defines participatory learning as any learning activity in which you personally interact with other people. Participatory learning is undertaken with one or more professionals, or in a larger group, and the activity must be relevant to your scope of practice. Examples include attending a conference or participating in a clinical workshop. The group does not need to always be in a common physical environment, it could exist in a virtual environment such as an online discussion group.

Non-participatory learning - Non-participatory learning takes place in isolation and does not involve any interaction with other people. This could include e-learning or reading and reviewing publications.

The NMC will not tell you exactly what CPD activity to undertake; we believe that you are the best person to decide what learning and development you need. However, it is important to remember that any CPD you chose to undertake must be “directly related” to your practice.

As the guidance highlights, undertaking fire and health and safety training (although undoubtedly important) will not be directly relevant to your role. In contrast, however, undertaking a course on record keeping or note taking would count because it is directly relevant to your scope of practice.

Submitting evidence

When you submit your evidence to your confirmer you will need to include a number of important factors relating to your CPD, namely:

  • Details of what the activity was;
  • How it relates to your practice;
  • When the activity was undertaken;
  • The number of participatory and non-participatory hours;
  • To what part of the NMC Code the CPD relates;
  • Evidence that the CPD took place (for example, a certificate).


While undertaking CPD activity is something that is required of any nurse or midwife, I would strongly urge that you do not think of it as something you have to do, but something that you want to do. CPD activities enable nurses and midwives to constantly and consistently learn and develop, delivering safe and effective care for the patients who rely on you.

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