Continuing Professional Development Made Easy

Feeling anxious about the new mandatory requirement for nurses and midwives to clock up 20 hours of CPD each year? The Lamp sets out what you need to do and how to do it.

As part of the new national registration requirements, all RNs, ENs and midwives must complete 20 hours of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) each year.

This requirement has been in place in other Australian states for some time, but is a first for NSW.

Members may feel daunted at the prospect of trying to squeeze another layer of work into their busy lives, but don’t worry. Fulfilling your CPD requirements is a lot easier than you think.

What is CPD?

CPD is about developing your professional skills. This can be carried out in a number of ways, including attendance at conferences such as the NSWNA Professional Day, online self-directed learning tutorials, reading The Lamp, mentoring others in the workplace, writing CPD articles or attending workshops or seminars, such as those held by the NSWNA each month.

All mandatory education is counted towards CPD. Competencies such as manual handling, infection control or drug calculation, for example, are mandatory for nurses and count towards CPD hours. And anything that is mandatory can be counted in both midwifery and nursing CPD hours.

In addition to mandatory competencies, nurses and midwives also need to complete specific topics related to their speciality. ‘If you are a mental health nurse, you would need to do a mental health topic,’ says Jodie Davies, ANF Federal Education Officer.

How do you go about doing your CPD?

‘Look at your learning needs,’ says Jodie. ‘You need to do mandatory competences, plus if you’re a renal nurse you need to do specific education in renal nursing. Work out a learning plan, how you are going to address your needs. After completing your CPD courses, you then have to reflect on what you’ve learned – so how it affected and improved your work and what you will take back to your organisation.’

ANF online tutorials

The ANF has a number of online tutorials, which NSWNA members have access to at the discounted price of just $7.70 per tutorial, as well as a free online professional portfolio where all CPD – whether it is completed with the ANF or outside – can be logged.

The tutorials range from wound care and asthma management to palliative care and emergency drugs, in addition to mandatory topics such as manual handling and advanced life support update.

As well as being cost-effective, the ANF tutorials offer the convenience of completing CPD requirements at times that suit busy nurses and midwives. ‘We also have a free hand hygiene tutorial so members only have to do three paid ones, plus this one. So it costs less than $30 for your yearly CPD,’ says Jodie.

‘It’s about time and money – you’ve got shift work and kids and if you go to a conference you have to travel,’ says Jodie. ‘Rural and remote nurses say the online studying is perfect for them because they avoid the expense of travelling to Sydney and having to pay a babysitter. You can do the tutorials whenever you like. If you are interrupted you can stop and come back where you left off.’

Once you have purchased a tutorial, you have access to it for 12 months, meaning it can be used as a reference tool in the workplace for that period. You have three attempts at the assessment section in order to achieve the highest mark.

The ANF is continually adding new modules. Two midwifery topics are due to be made available shortly, and a suite of aged care tutorials will be also added. Members will gain access to 50 aged care modules at an annual subscription of $110.

Modules are available at

NSWNA seminars

If you prefer hands-on, face-to-face teaching, the NSWNA runs a number of workshops and seminars each month. These include basic foot care, legal and professional issues for nurses and midwives, and forums for nursing specialities such as mental health, aged care or Nurse Practitioners.

Check out The Lamp’s ‘What’s On’ section each month for details.

The benefits of CPD

The aim of CPD is to keep nurses current in their practice. ‘Things are changing all the time in the nursing profession,’ says Jodie. ‘Take diabetes, for example. Insulins may change, and nurses need to keep up to speed on these changes. Nurses and midwives need to make sure they are constantly reminding themselves of the knowledge needed in the workplace.

‘It’s about improving your scope of practice and constantly building on it so you are showing the public that you are the best at what you do as well as being confident in your own work skills.’

NSWNA General Secretary Brett Holmes urged members to embrace the opportunities provided by the requirement to complete CPD rather than feel overwhelmed.

‘Completing your 20 hours of CPD is quite a straightforward process. Members have access to a range of tutorials and seminars provided by the ANF and NSWNA, as well as a free online professional portfolio on the ANF website,’ said Brett.

‘CPD is all about self-determination. You decide what you will complete and how many hours you consider the particular activity took you to complete. As long as you have identified your learning needs, developed a learning plan, participated in CPD to meet your learning needs and reflected on the value of the activities to your practice and recorded it, you’ve completed the requirements.’

Steps to completing CPD requirements

  • Identify your learning needs (mandatory competencies plus any specialised topics for your area of nursing or midwifery).
  • Work out a learning plan (identify seminars or conferences to attend, take some ANF online tutorials, for example).
  • Register on the ANF website for a free online professional development portfolio to record your CPD achievements.
  • Complete your CPD activities.
  • Lodge your CPD activities in your online professional development portfolio, including dates of learning and the number of hours spent in each activity (one hour of active learning will equal one hour of CPD).
  • Document in your online professional development portfolio what you have learned, and how it affected and improved your work.
  • Have all the information recorded in your portfolio in case you get audited.