How to succeed at the confirmer stage of revalidation

Sarah Alexander has acted as confirmer for three nurses during the revalidation process. Here she explains what confirmers are looking for - and what the role entails for the confirmer.

Sarah Alexander has acted as confirmer for three nurses during the revalidation process. Here she explains what confirmers are looking for - and what the role entails for the confirmer

What is the role of the confirmer?
There is a lot of anxiety from nurses about being a confirmer, but the process is actually much less daunting when you go through it. There is excellent advice from the NMC to lead you through the process and instruct you step by step http://revalidation.nmc.org.uk/information-for-confirmers.

As a confirmer, we are checking that nurses have hit all the requirements necessary for revalidation, not that they are fit to practise. 

Before you act as a confirmer check that you can do so. You must be a registered nurse or midwife, the revalidating nurse’s line manager or a regulated healthcare professional.

Do some nurses have difficulties finding a confirmer?
My background is as a practice nurse, and often the line manager for nurses in practices is not a registered health professional. While the line manager can act as the confirmer, often nurses will want to do their reflective discussion and confirmation at the same time so will seek out a nurse, or just prefer going through the confirmation process with a nurse.

People will pick those they feel most comfortable with. I have acted as a confirmer for three practice nurses who I have worked with in the past. It can be a bit harder for practice nurses to find a nurse.
How much preparation should take place before the confirmation meeting?
I have found that a nurse will get in touch with me asking to take part in their reflective discussion and be their confirmer several months ahead of their revalidation.

I like to have a preliminary conversation with them by phone or email, where I ask them if they have been on the NMC website, read the information there and downloaded the forms they need to complete. I check with them if they have gathered all their evidence and remind them they need to bring it with them.

I arrange a date to meet for confirmation that is at least a month ahead of their deadline if possible. The confirmation can take place up to 12 months before their deadline. Don’t leave it until the last minute in case there is a problem that needs dealing with.

How can a nurse ensure that confirmation will go smoothly?
Download the forms from the NMC website as it has done a great job of making revalidation simple http://revalidation.nmc.org.uk/download-resources/forms-and-templates. It tells you exactly what to do for each part. There is also an example of a completed form, so have a look if you are stuck. And the more time a nurse gives themselves for the process, the better.

How do you approach the confirmation?
I arrange for a 90-minute meeting with the person who is revalidating. The revalidating nurse doesn’t have to be there but I find it better if they are, so that they can bring and take away their portfolio and answer any questions. Be methodical as you go through the portfolio.

The confirmer needs to be objective. It is an important role and you are there to show that all the requirements have been filled.
What paperwork should the confirmer keep?
I recommend keeping a record of who you have confirmed, the date and their PIN in case the NMC ever has any queries. I wouldn’t recommend keeping a copy of all their portfolio as it could involve a lot of paper.
Have you ever had to withhold or delay a confirmation?
I haven’t had a problem with any of the people I have confirmed. They had completed all the elements and had the evidence to prove it. This could be partly due to the early conversations we had – planning ahead can be useful.

I can imagine that sometimes nurses may not have a CPD certificate, or you may feel that a written reflective account could benefit from more detail, but these can be sorted if enough time is left. It can be a good idea to suggest that a nurse writes an action plan of future learning based on their reflective practice.

What have you learnt from being a confirmer?
First, don’t panic. If you approach it methodically it will be fine.

Being a confirmer is not just about benefiting the nurse who is revalidating, I have learned from the process too. Going through a portfolio, I will often think that a particular course they have attended could be useful for me, or that they obviously gained a great deal from a particular conference that I will consider going to next year.

When reading the reflective pieces, I may be able to suggest something they haven’t thought of, but also they may have approached a situation in a different way.

I intend to use my experience as a confirmer as part of my reflective practice when I revalidate in three years' time.

What the confirmer is looking for

  • Written evidence of 450 hours of practice over the past three years.
  • Written evidence and accurate records of 35 hours of continuing professional development relevant to the nurse’s practice.
  • Written or oral evidence of five pieces of practice-related feedback.
  • Five written reflective accounts.
  • A completed and signed NMC form recording that the nurse has had a reflective discussion.

Find out more

Advice from the RCN
Access the revalidation support tool RCNi Portfolio through your RCNi subscription at:


Erin Dean is a freelance health writer

This article is for subscribers only