Nurse CPD Resources

Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is a combination of approaches, ideas and techniques that will help you manage your own learning and growth. The focus of CPD is firmly on results – the benefits that professional development can bring you in the real world. Perhaps the most important message is that one size doesn’t fit all. Wherever you are in your career now and whatever you want to achieve, your CPD should be exactly that: yours.

How many CPD points do I need as a Nurse or Nursing support staff?

It is crucial that in today’s fast paced medical environment that nurses and nursing support staff stay up to date with the demands that need to be met. and nursing support staff are required to complete Nurses 5 hours of Continued Professional Development a year, as well as 35 hours of relevant learning over a period of 3 years which is relevant to ones area of practice. Of those 35 hours, 20 of those must include participated learning.

 Professional bodies that undertake CPD

There are a large number of professional bodies and associations in the medical and healthcare industry that require their nurses and nursing support staff to undertake CPD as part of their membership obligations. For example, professional bodies like the General Medical Council, Royal College of Nursing and the British Medical Association all expect their members to undertake CPD every year. These long established and respected professional bodies all believe that Continuing Professional Development to be vital to maintain competence and stay regularly updated with medical breakthroughs, best practice and industry advances. Therefore, it is crucial that all healthcare professionals which include both nurses and nursing support staff should partake in regular CPD in order to work at their best abilities.

Practice nurses understand that continuing professional development (CPD) is key to ensuring their skills and knowledge are up-to-date.

Practice nurses must have undertaken 35 hours of CPD relevant to practice nursing in the three-year period since their registration was last renewed, or when joining the register. Of those 35 hours of CPD, at least 20 hours must include participatory learning. 

To meet this requirement, practice nurses must undertake activities that involve interaction with one or more other professionals. As a practice nurse who may often work in isolation, it is important to remember that participatory learning can be virtual; in other words, it doesn’t have to take place in the same room or physical environment as the people undertaking the same activity. 


What should you look for in a CPD course?  

Each course has its advantages and disadvantages. University-level modules carry more weight with certain employers who see it as a sign of commitment and career progression. On the other hand, they are too time-consuming for many nurses and can have significant costs attached, both financially and in time spent away from clinical practice. To some extent, this also applies to workshops. 

Alternatively, peer review activities can be particularly beneficial as the sector moves towards working in primary care networks; this will be population-based for many, so the activities will be relevant to the community the nurse serves. 

It is worth taking your goals into account when picking
a course. If your aim is revalidation, ensure you update your knowledge in areas where you deliver care – such as wound care and some long-term conditions – and that you are using current guidelines, such as NICE. But if you have career progression in mind, a good place to start would be the non-medical prescribing course, or an MSc in advanced clinical practice. The NHS Leadership Academy is a helpful resource if you want to progress into management roles.  

CPD also needs to be relevant to your learning and development at your specific practice. As population health varies from practice to practice, so do the needs of patients when it comes to care and how it is delivered. As most practice nurses deliver care for a variety of long-term conditions, this would be a good place to start.

You can also go to your nursing colleagues or practice manager for help in choosing CPD activities. This could form part of your yearly appraisal within practice, as practice nurses need to know what training they need and must communicate that effectively.

Once you find a course, it is important to be clear with your practice about what learning and development it gives you, alongside what commitment it requires from you and your employer. For example, do you need clinical time blocked off so you can do a module online? Or can you access this from home and be paid additional hours?

Participatory CPD 

Some practice nurses may not be aware there are other ways to achieve CPD without searching for courses. For example, if the GPN attends nurse or practice meetings outside of everyday practice to discuss a specific event or new way
of working, this can be counted towards participatory CPD. The evidence of participation they’d need to retain could be events notes, observations and outcomes of the meetings. 

Likewise, many practice nurses conduct clinical audits within practice. This can also be counted towards participatory CPD. Again, evidence for this could include signed letters, notes, observations and outcomes of the audit, such as changing the way care is delivered. Practice nurses will have to decide whether an activity is participatory or not. Many activities can be participatory if you personally interacted with other people. Another source of CPD for practice nurses is mandatory training, specifically relevant to the role of a practice nurse. This includes safeguarding, cytology updates and annual immunisation updates. 

The GPN Single Point is being rolled out across the country. This is an online portal for single point of access for up-to-date assured GPN information. This is facilitated by NHS England and the Future NHS Platform. It’s easy to use, a single sign-on, and accessible over multiple platforms, including smartphones and tablets. 

What are the key benefits of CPD for Nurses and Nursing support staff?

Some of the key benefits of CPD for nurses and nursing support staff is the way further learning can significantly improve ones knowledge and skillset in such a critically important industry such as the healthcare industry. Because Continuing Professional Development is so extremely useful at staying up to date with the latest developments and discoveries in healthcare, it is seen as a nurse’s fundamental duty of care to complete in order to take care of the thousands of patients encountered on a daily basis. CPD allows nurses to carry out their objectives effectively, helping also to ensure their safety and wellbeing in the workplace. Continuing Professional Development is a transparent and reliable way for regulators such as professional bodies and medical associations to identify that the highest standards of duty of care are being fulfilled wherever possible.

What types of CPD activities and examples can Nurses and Nursing support staff do?

Nurses and nursing support staff must undergo non-participatory learning as well as participatory learning, which are different types of CPD. Participatory learning is undertaken with one or more professionals, with activities and events that are relevant to a nurse’s field of practice. The types of participatory learning include attending conferences and taking part in clinical workshops. Furthermore, the group of participants does not always have to be in the same physical environment, they may converse in a virtual environment such as an online learning discussion group or forum. Non-participatory learning is undertaken by nurses and nursing support staff which involves learning in isolation and does not involve any interaction with other members. For example, this could simply involve e-learning or reading and reviewing publications.

A few simple examples of nursing CPD activities could include attending meetings that involve updates for clinical aspects relevant to a nurse’s role, such as blood transfusions, manual handling and safeguarding. Secondly, nurses could undertake independent learning such as reading nursing training articles that are to do with caring for people who are terminally ill and the priorities required at the end of life. This type of CPD learning may be seen as crucial to a healthcare professional, as handling death is a huge part of many professional practising nurses. Lastly, activities that include independent learning, such as attending CPD courses that deal with IV therapy, which may teach a training nurse the theory and practice behind IV therapy.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council does not recommend any individual type of CPD; they leave it up to you to decide what activity is most useful for your development. But finding the right CPD course can be daunting. There are plenty of potential CPD activities to choose from, including free e-learning, online courses and training resources. There are websites where you can search a variety of courses and learning modules in an area of general practice nursing. Helpful sites include: 

  •  RCN learning resources: free online resources on nursing essentials to help with revalidation (membership is not required). 
  •  e-LfH (e-learning for healthcare): e-learning resources. 
  •  Future Learn, the nursing collection: free nursing courses online, looking at research and advice on patient care. 
  •  Skills Platform: clinical e-learning resources (some are free).
  •  Public Health England: specialist health protection learning and professional development activities. 
  •  British Heart Foundation: CPD opportunities, clinical learning and development resources.
  •  Diabetes UK: training courses, professional development and clinical resources, competency frameworks and workshops.
  •  Nursing in Practice Learning: an online CPD website, some modules are free.

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