Strategies for selecting a CPD course

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. 

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.

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. 

Robana Hussain-Mills is the practice nurse lead at Nottingham and Nottinghamshire CCGs

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