Analysis

Revalidation: novel ways to fulfill your CPD hours during COVID-19

NMC says ‘learning can be achieved in a variety of ways’ – and e-learning plays a major part

NMC says learning can be achieved in a variety of ways and e-learning plays a major part

  • Nurses need 35 hours of CPD every three years to revalidate their registration with the NMC
  • Nearly eight out of ten nurses surveyed say their CPD has been disrupted by the pandemic
  • Online learning, and reflection on experience gained during the COVID-19 crisis, can count towards CPD requirements

Ongoing training and professional development are essential for all nurses, but ensuring this continues during the COVID-19 pandemic has proved a challenge.

Nearly eight out of 10 nurses who responded

NMC says ‘learning can be achieved in a variety of ways’ – and e-learning plays a major part

  • Nurses need 35 hours of CPD every three years to revalidate their registration with the NMC
  • Nearly eight out of ten nurses surveyed say their CPD has been disrupted by the pandemic
  • Online learning, and reflection on experience gained during the COVID-19 crisis, can count towards CPD requirements
Many foundation trusts and employers have used remote learning to help with CPD
Many foundation trusts and employers have used remote learning to help with CPD Picture: iStock

Ongoing training and professional development are essential for all nurses, but ensuring this continues during the COVID-19 pandemic has proved a challenge.

Nearly eight out of 10 nurses who responded to a Nursing Standard survey last year – 77% – said their training and development had been disrupted by COVID-19.

Keeping up with CPD commitments for revalidation

Nurses must complete 35 hours of continuing professional development (CPD) – including 20 hours of ‘participatory learning’ – every three years in order to revalidate their registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

35

hours of CPD required every three years for nurses to revalidate

Source: NMC

So how can nurses and their managers ensure they keep up with training and professional development as the pandemic continues?

NMC executive director of professional practice Geraldine Walters says it is important that employers continue to support staff to meet CPD requirements.

‘CPD is essential for all nurses and nursing associates, wherever they work, and whatever stage they are in their career,’ she says.

Deadline extensions and alternative ways of carrying out CPD

The NMC gave a 24-week extension to nurses due to revalidate between November and December 2020. Nurses due to revalidate in January, February and March this year had an extra 12 weeks to meet the deadline. Those due to revalidate from April onwards can request an eight-week extension.

The regulator does not prescribe what kind of CPD nurses must do – only that it must be relevant to their practice.

‘It’s worth remembering learning can be achieved in a variety of ways – it isn’t all about undertaking formal courses or attending conferences,’ says Professor Walters.

She recommends that nurses and managers find ways to incorporate learning into everyday practice ‘wherever there is an opportunity, through informal reflection and clinical supervision’.

One NHS trust helps nurses ‘limber up’ for online training by providing a yoga session beforehand
One NHS trust helps nurses ‘limber up’ for online training by providing a yoga session beforehand Picture: iStock

Professional development and learning during the COVID-19 pandemic

RCN professional lead for education Gill Coverdale says confusion about what counts as CPD, as well as schedule changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, can leave nurses worried about revalidation. Her message is: ‘Don’t panic.’

Ms Coverdale adds: ‘Courses and face-to-face may have been put on hold but there is a whole raft of learning being undertaken that is still CPD. For example, how to put your PPE on, how to use new equipment for COVID patients, updates and staff briefings, mentoring.

‘We’re all learning about COVID and the vaccines – and all of that is CPD.’

Much of these activities also count as ‘participatory learning’ even if it is online, Ms Coverdale adds.

77%

of nurses said their CPD had been disrupted by the pandemic

Source: Nursing Standard survey, June 2020

Making time for learning

Nurses worried about a lack of CPD or time to do it should speak to their line manager, she says. However, this needs to be a two-way conversation about what is practical and realistic at the moment.

One way that nurses can further their professional development when everyone is stretched is by offering to lead a piece of work that will benefit the whole team.

Plenty of learning can be done outside work such as reading, bite-size learning modules and webinars provided by the RCN and other royal colleges, government bodies and professional networks, adds Ms Coverdale.

RCNi Learning’s online modules

RCNi Learning offers CPD modules on a range of different topics.

Each module can be used towards your personal CPD hours and reflective accounts for revalidation.

Try a free CPD module such as Improving compliance with hand hygiene practices or Caring for patients with a temporary tracheostomy.

E-learning tools available for CPD

James McLean, HEE deputy chief nurse
James McLean

The NHS recruitment and retention plan published in July last year by NHS England, NHS Improvement and Health Education England (HEE) says employers must ensure their workforce has CPD and protected time for training.

The plan also highlights new e-learning being developed by HEE, which the organisation’s deputy chief nurse James McLean advises nurses to check out.

‘There is a range of tools available to help nurses complete their revalidation including our E-learning for Healthcare platform, which offers a wide range of modules,’ Mr McLean says.

How managers can keep nurses’ CPD on track during the pandemic

Recognise and value recent learning experiences: New skills and ways of working learned during the coronavirus crisis count as CPD, says the RCN’s Gill Coverdale. ‘If someone is coming up to a reflective discussion or confirmation, this is about reminding them about the learning they’ve done during the pandemic,’ she adds.

Encourage staff to record CPD as and when they can: ‘Nurses may be worried they are not recording any of this learning or building evidence towards revalidation,’ says Ms Coverdale. Jotting down a few bullet points, keeping notes in a diary or recording observations on a mobile phone are ways to ensure some kind of record nurses can come back to.

Keep training short and flexible: Tired and stressed-out nurses will find it harder to concentrate, so make training sessions shorter and aim to deliver content in bitesize chunks, says nurse consultant Claire Shaw. Managers must also be flexible when organising training sessions and understand demands on front-line staff may make it harder to attend or commit. ‘Tell people “These are the dates – but let’s review it nearer the time”,’ she says.

Ensure training is accessible: Not everyone has reliable broadband at home or a convenient space where they can do online training without being interrupted, says Ms Shaw. ‘As nurse managers we need to be aware of those issues and have discussions with people before we ask them to do things,’ she adds.

Keep it simple: ‘If you are clever about it you can deliver training that is comprehensive using quite minimal equipment,’ says simulation technical lead Richard Goodwin. ‘It is also about drilling down to what your learners need to know and focusing on those important learning objectives. This makes training easier, cheaper and quicker – and more powerful.’

Look after your own CPD: Nurse managers need to act as role models and ensure they undertake their own CPD, as well as supporting the training needs of junior staff, emphasises Antonia Carding-Wright, associate director of nursing at The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust. ‘Make sure you have meaningful CPD and incorporate it within your own practice,’ she says.

Transferring continuing professional development online

Claire Shaw, nurse consultant
Claire Shaw

The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust carries out training and education for healthcare staff, nationally and internationally, and has had to adapt its delivery during the pandemic.

A symposium for nurses who attended training on how to facilitate reflective practice groups for newly registered staff had to be cancelled, explains the trust’s nurse consultant Claire Shaw. But participants were offered the chance to attend an informal monthly group on Zoom.

The organisers then produced online guidance for these nurses, and created a series of short podcasts.

‘The idea was to have something bitesize and digestible you can listen to if you have a spare 10 minutes or are on the way home on the train,’ says Ms Shaw.

Navigating the challenges posed by online interaction

Providing CPD online can make it more accessible but there are challenges, including the fact that people are often expected to jump straight into a training session without the usual coffee and chat beforehand.

That is why it is important to think about transitions in and out of sessions or training days, says Ms Shaw.

For example, her team incorporated some yoga into an online training programme for aspiring nurse leaders.

‘We’d encourage people to think about how they can enable that transition within an online session, perhaps using a bit of mindfulness, to help people focus,’ she says.

Making parts of the CPD process more flexible

Similarly, at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, the pandemic accelerated efforts to provide CPD and essential training in new ways, says simulation technical lead Richard Goodwin.

12

weeks’ extension for nurses due to revalidate in Jan, Feb or March 2021

Before the pandemic, training days would often start with half a day’s worth of lectures or presentations attended by up to 30 people at a time.

‘We realised that was an inappropriate thing to do in the current context but also something that could be replaced with more modern ways of teaching, such as recordings of lectures, videos and e-learning, with all the background knowledge, physiology, biology and even equipment demonstrations all done digitally.’

Prep work can then be done at a time that suits the clinician, who will then attend live interactive online demonstrations and – where necessary – one-to one, face-to-face training in a COVID-safe space.

‘Clinicians are only coming in for a short period and when they meet the instructor they are primed and ready to go,’ says Mr Goodwin.

Online chat function is ‘unbelievably helpful’

A vital aspect of successful online training is ensuring staff can ask questions and get answers.

‘The chat aspect of all online platforms is unbelievably helpful,’ says Mr Goodwin. ‘It is a place to ask questions without interrupting the teaching. Often the chat function will be monitored by a separate member of faculty who isn’t actually teaching the course but is there in the background picking up those questions.’

To ensure staff can access training, the trust has converted some of its teaching space into socially distanced IT workspaces equipped with iPads, and have provided private rooms with laptops and headphones.

Staff feedback shows providing training during COVID-19 has not only helped staff keep their skills up to date but has also improved morale.

‘Our surveys show people feel valued by having any sort of teaching at this time,’ says Mr Goodwin. ‘They are getting CPD but also feel they’re being looked after.’

‘It fits in with nurses’ working day’

Jill Gale, specialist practitioner district nursing sister
Jill Gale Picture: SVW Photography

When the pandemic hit in March 2020, specialist practitioner district nursing sister Jill Gale, who works for South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, was told to shield at home.

Ms Gale, who was previously lead for end-of-life care and now works for the palliative out-of-hours district nursing team, was asked to develop online training for community nurses to enable them to verify expected patient deaths.

Reducing distress for families

A major goal was to reduce distressing delays for families waiting for a GP to verify the death of a loved one.

‘Families were sometimes waiting up to eight hours for somebody to come out,’ says Ms Gale.

Delivering the training online – via Microsoft Teams – made it much more accessible to nursing teams and was more cost effective for the trust.

‘It fits in with nurses’ working day, cuts down on travel and parking costs, and reduces the amount of time nurses are away from patients,’ says Ms Gale.

‘On the back of delivering training in this way, I feel the trust as a whole is going to re-evaluate the way it is done’

Jill Gale, South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Crucially it was a way of delivering valuable CPD amid the additional pressures of COVID-19.

The training consists of an hour-long session on Teams with nurses expected to read a couple of policy documents beforehand.

Ms Gale, who has trained 382 staff to date, offered a variety of time slots and says she was careful to choose times she knew would work with nurses’ schedules and shift patterns.

Online training counts towards revalidation

Nurses fill in a self-assessment competency statement once they have done the training and can record 90 minutes of face-to-face training for the purposes of revalidation. They also receive a certificate for their portfolio.

The trust has made the training mandatory for its community nursing staff.

Ms Gale, who has recorded a video to train new staff and provide refresher training for those who need it, is now looking to develop further online training on topics such as use of syringe pumps.

‘On the back of delivering training in this way, I feel the trust as a whole is going to re-evaluate the way it is done in future,’ she says.


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