Frequently Asked Questions

What is continuing professional development?

Continuing professional development refers to any activity that contributes to your professional development as a nurse or midwife. There are many other terms that are related, for example, continuing competence, staff development, continuing professional education and lifelong learning (National Council for the Professional Development of Nursing and Midwifery 2009). In addition to government legislation, regulatory bodies, employers service users and society in general, the Nurses and Midwives Act, 2011 is one of the recent drivers to require nurses and midwives to demonstrate continuing professional development and your competence to practice as a nurse or midwife.

Under the Nurses and Midwives Act, 2011 will continuing professional development become mandatory?

Part 11 of this legislation places responsibilities on Registrants, the Board and employers in relation to the Maintenance of Professional Competence. Continuing professional development will form part of the professional competence schemes that the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland will be required to develop. This has not been developed yet and the Board intend to undertake an extensive consultation with all stakeholders including nurses and midwives as Registrants of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland. Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland on-line Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Directory Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) accessible at: http://www.nursingboard.ie).

What is the difference between continuing professional development and continuing competence?

Continuing professional development refers to your professional development after obtaining your initial nursing and/or midwifery qualification. The aim of participating in continuing professional development activities is to ensure, firstly, that knowledge and competence acquired during undergraduate and postgraduate education programmes remain current and, secondly, that new information and evidence are translated into practice (Nurses Board of Victoria 2009 and NCPDNM 2009).

How is competence defined in Ireland?

The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (formally An Bord Altranais) defines competence as the ability of the registered nurse or midwife to practise safely and effectively, fulfilling his/her professional responsibility within his/her scope of practice (An Bord Altranais 2005a and 2007a).

The National Qualifications Authority of Ireland defines competence as "the effective and creative demonstration and deployment of knowledge and skill in human situations. Such situations could comprise general social and civic ones, as well as specific occupational ones. Competence draws on attitudes, emotions, values and sense of self-efficacy of the learner, as well as on declarative and procedural knowledge" (National Qualifications Authority of Ireland on-line glossary).

What activities would be considered as continuing professional development?

Formal and informal activities can be considered under the heading continuing professional development activities.

Continuing professional development, examples of activities

  • Audit of practice or workload
  • Clinical practice meetings
  • Developing policies, protocols and guidelines
  • Following up on an identified (personal/unit/department) knowledge gap by undertaking a literature search and review in order to inform the implementation of new practice
  • In-service training, e.g., manual handling, intravenous drug administration
  • Involvement in committees (e.g., conference organising committee, risk management committee)
  • Membership of reflective practice or clinical supervision groups
  • Mentoring and / or coaching
  • Participating in action learning sets
  • Participation in management activities such as staff selection and recruitment, performance
  • Review, policy development or service planning
  • Peer review
  • Preceptorship of newly qualified staff
  • Presenting papers and posters
  • Project work
  • Reflective writing activities such as critical incident analyses
  • Risk assessment and management activities
  • Short course, conference, workshop and seminar attendance
  • Small-scale research studies
  • Training on new equipment
  • Undertaking courses accredited by third-level education providers or recognised authority (full-time; part-time; distance-learning; supported learning; certificate, diploma, baccalaureate (primary degree), postgraduate/higher/diploma/advanced diploma, postgraduate degree (master’s, doctoral, post-doctoral)
  • Visiting other centres to compare practice or learn from other professionals about new techniques, practices or projects
  • Work-based learning (WBL) (includes pre-designed learning packages in the work place)
  • Writing articles for in-house, regional, national or international publications.

Note: The above list is in alphabetical order and not in order of importance or value

Source: National Council for the Professional Development of Nursing and Midwifery (2009), Guidelines for Portfolio Development for Nurses and Midwives – 3rd Edition.

What are Continuing Education Units (CEUs)?

The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland awards Continuing Education Units to the CPD and in-service education and training programmes that meets the Boards approval. One Continuing Education Unit (CEU) is awarded to approximately every 40 minutes to one hour of teaching and learning activity. These CEUs do not have an academic rating (Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland. Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland on-line Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Directory Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) accessible at: http://www.nursingboard.ie).