Be prepared for revalidation

Revalidation aims to build a culture of continuous improvement. This article seeks to dispel the mystery that still surrounds the new system and explains what nurses and midwives need to do.

Revalidation is important to all of us. It is the new process being introduced by the Nursing and Midwifery Council that all nurses and midwives will have to undertake every three years to ensure they continue to practise safely and effectively throughout their careers.

It builds on the current system of UK nursing regulation, post-registration education and practice (PREP), but goes further: it aims to build a culture of professionalism and continuous improvement – it is not just about staying on the register.

For some, revalidation still seems daunting. It need not be.

Next month, the NMC Council is expected to make a decision on the final model. Subject to that decision, revalidation will launch in April 2016 and, because it is based on a three-year cycle, every nurse and midwife will have undertaken the process by April 2019.

The NMC has piloted the proposed system of revalidation in 19 NHS organisations across the UK and two important issues have emerged from these trials.

First, employers need to prepare as well as their nursing staff. Second, for nurses and midwives who don’t work in big organisations and are practising in remote and isolated areas, relationships with other registrants are important to support revalidation.

Different from PREP

The basic requirements of PREP still apply. You will still need to undertake 450 hours of practice in three years, but the hours of required continuing professional development (CPD) are increasing from 35 in three years to 40. Of those, 20 will need to be participatory. Participatory learning can take many forms. The new standards relate to confirmation, feedback, reflection and a professional development discussion with another registrant.


Patients need to trust nurses and know that they are in safe hands

Picture credit: Neil O’connor

Confirmation is a process endorsing the fact that requirements of revalidation have been met. It is not a judgement on performance or fitness to practise. Concerns about performance must be handled separately. You should not wait for revalidation to address a serious fitness to practise issue with the NMC.

The ideal confirmer is a line manager who is also an NMC registrant. For self-employed nurses, the NMC will provide guidance on how to access confirmation at a later date. The professional development discussion with a registrant will usually cover reflections on The Code, CPD and practice-related feedback.


Feedback is about being responsive and using it to change your practice as a consequence. It could come from patients, their families, carers, colleagues, mentors or through the appraisal system.

Revalidation is about our ability to practise safely

Complaints might feel like a negative source of information, but they are important stimuli for learning. They highlight a significant feature of revalidation: the process is about our ability to practise safely and effectively and not about managing performance. The NMC will not be interested in seeing the original feedback, but it will be interested in a reflective account that demonstrates what has been learned.

Reflection and professional development discussion

Revalidation will also require five reflective accounts over the three-year period on how CPD or feedback has changed or improved practice and how it is relevant to The Code. You will then have a professional development discussion with another registrant about your reflections on The Code, CPD and feedback.

Planning and preparation

Preparing for revalidation need not be onerous or daunting. Start preparing well in advance by collecting evidence as you go along because it will make the process easier. So, to get ready you should:

Make sure you have an NMC Online account and find out your renewal date. If you don’t yet have an account, refer to the NMC’s step by step guidance on setting one up.

Keep a portfolio, preferably electronic.

Know The Code and the revalidation requirements.

Talk to your manager about the requirements of revalidation.

Identify your confirmer. If your confirmer is not a registrant, you must also identify a registrant with whom you can have your reflective and professional development discussions.

Make sure you have an appraisal and take the lead in your appraisal discussion and structure it around The Code.

Gather evidence of your 40 CPD hours and ensure you can demonstrate that 20 of them were participatory.

Log incidents and situations about which you can write your five reflective pieces – they should have three parts: the issue, reflections, and the impact on your practice.

Consider how you will gather feedback and reflect on it.

Talk to colleagues about revalidation and check the NMC website for the most up to date and accurate information and advice.

The NMC wants all its nurses and midwives to practise with a high degree of professionalism, ability and accountability in all settings. Our patients need to be confident that we deserve our place on the register.

See Nursing Standard’s previous coverage of revalidation at rcni.com/workplace/revalidation

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