Analysis

Revalidation: steps to get your application back on track

COVID-19 work pressures have put paid to many nurses’ CPD plans – but help is at hand

COVID-19 work pressures have put paid to many nurses CPD plans but help is at hand

  • Nurses report being worried about falling behind with their revalidation schedule
  • Find out about the NMCs deadline extension offer to those who need it
  • Advice on how to get your portfolio back on track or to keep it there

Revalidation requirements may be taking a back seat for some nurses Picture: Tim George

Nurses say the unprecedented nature of COVID-19 has affected their revalidation schedule, a Nursing Standard survey suggests.

More than 2,000 nurses responded to our survey that looked at the effects of the pandemic on their working lives, including redeployment, access

COVID-19 work pressures have put paid to many nurses’ CPD plans – but help is at hand

  • Nurses report being worried about falling behind with their revalidation schedule
  • Find out about the NMC’s deadline extension offer to those who need it
  • Advice on how to get your portfolio back on track – or to keep it there

Revalidation requirements may be taking a back seat for some nurses because of work pressures caused by coronavirus Picture: Tim George

Revalidation requirements may be taking a back seat for some nurses Picture: Tim George

Nurses say the unprecedented nature of COVID-19 has affected their revalidation schedule, a Nursing Standard survey suggests.

More than 2,000 nurses responded to our survey that looked at the effects of the pandemic on their working lives, including redeployment, access to essential training and time to complete continuing professional development (CPD).

The factors affecting registrants’ revalidation plans

Some 10% (202) reported that the pandemic had affected their timetable for revalidation, the process of renewing and maintaining registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

2016

the year revalidation was launched in the UK

Nurses described how pressures caused by the coronavirus outbreak have affected their revalidation planning, citing cancelled training days, staff shortages and stress as factors.

‘It has put extra stress on to me to get revalidation completed,’ one nurse told the survey.

Revalidation, which must be completed every three years, requires nurses to keep up to date in their professional practice to support safe and effective patient care.

Demands of the pandemic

Some respondents who were due to revalidate told our survey that fulfilling the CPD element of revalidation has been impossible under present circumstances.

Over a three-year period, nurses are required to log 35 hours of CPD, 20 hours of which must consist of participatory learning, meaning it involves interaction with others, such as attendance at conferences, training courses or workshops.

Cancellation of participatory learning events

Due to the pandemic, major nursing conferences such as RCN congress and Nightingale 2020 have been cancelled this year – a blow for those planning on clocking up some CPD hours.

Many nurses reported mandatory training and study days arranged through employers had been cancelled, or they had no time to document and file necessary information.

‘I revalidated 18 months ago and even I left it to the last three months to pull my documentation together’

Geraldine Walters, the NMC’s director of professional practice

One nurse told the survey: ‘I have not been able to attend CPD courses.’

Another said: ‘Many of my interactive learning and seminars were cancelled.’

25,344

automatic 12-week extensions were granted by the NMC in March and April 2020

(Source: NMC)

NMC’s efforts to take the pressure off nurses

The NMC says it acknowledges that increased workloads, home working and social distancing are all factors hampering registrants’ revalidation.

Crucially, help is at hand.

Early on in the pandemic, the nursing regulator granted automatic 12-week extensions to anyone due to revalidate in March, April, May or June.

That equates to 25,344 extensions in March and April alone, and compares to the 179 extensions granted to registrants for the same period in 2019.

‘COVID-19 has been a once-in-a-generation challenge for nursing. The work you’re doing now, and what you’ve learned, could make up one of the five experiences you’ll need to reflect on’

Gill Coverdale, RCN professional lead for education, learning and development

Those due to revalidate in July or August and who need more time can request a 12-week extension through their NMC online account.

204,545

nurses and midwives revalidated between April 2018 and March 2019

(Source: NMC)

But some nurses told our survey that even with an extension they were still struggling.

One respondent told us: ‘Been given an extra three months to complete but still quite difficult.’

Another said: ‘I am due to revalidate by September 2020, but I am finding it difficult to motivate myself at present.'

The 8 requirements of revalidation

All nurses and midwives in the UK must revalidate every three years to maintain their registration with the NMC and prove they practise safely and effectively.

  1. 450 practice hours (or 900 if renewing as nurse and a midwife)
  2. 35 hours of CPD, including 20 hours of participatory learning
  3. Five pieces of practice-related feedback – written, verbal, informal or formal and can come from patients, colleagues and managers
  4. Five written reflective accounts – detailing an instance of CPD, feedback or an event or experience
  5. Reflective discussion with a fellow registrant
  6. Health and character declaration
  7. Professional indemnity arrangement
  8. Confirmation – where possible this should be your line manager

Revalidation questions answered by the NMC

Picture: iStock

NMC director of professional practice Geraldine Walters says she understands the pressures nurses are under, and stresses that support is available.

Here, she answers some key questions on how nurses can keep their revalidation on track, and outlines how you can get the support you need.

I’m worried I’m going to miss my revalidation deadline. What should I do?

If you find yourself in difficulty, speak to your manager in the first instance, says Dr Walters.

‘You can also phone the NMC for guidance. In addition to the extensions we are offering, we also have some advice on the website about how nurses can meet the requirements in ways they may not realise are acceptable forms of participatory CPD, such as online learning or webinars.’

Will a 12-week extension offer enough time for people to revalidate?

Dr Walters says: ‘We know while the pressure on the NHS now is much less than it was at the start of the pandemic, that is variable and there will still be people who are really up against it in terms of completing revalidation, because they are still working in an area that is tremendously challenging. People can have a 12-week extension, and if the situation is not any better for them after that, there is the possibility of a further extension. So that is a potential 24-week extension – we hope that will be sufficient to support them.

NMC director of professional practice Geraldine Walters
Geraldine Walters

‘For those who have been ill or encountered other difficult situations, contact us and we will look at the individual circumstances,’ Dr Walters adds, pointing out that the NMC is used to helping people facing difficult circumstances in completing on time for other reasons, such as bereavement, illness or maternity leave.

My revalidation deadline is looming but I’ve not been very organised. What should I do?

Don’t panic.

‘I revalidated 18 months ago and even I left it to the last three months before I started to pull the documentation together,’ says Dr Walters.

‘It’s human nature to put things off and pulling the documentation together is probably the last thing you feel like doing if you have been an intensive care nurse in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A 12-week extension has been given
to registrants due to revalidate​​​

'However, most people have been through the revalidation process once now and have more understanding of the requirements and are less fazed by it. Those who have done it before should be a little reassured it is not difficult to pull together the evidence as you are going along.

'We have heard that some people might need evidence that is stored at work they are unable to access,’ she adds. ‘We would advise them to speak to employers to see how they can give any support as they may hold electronic records of CPD activity and appraisals.'

What is your top tip for revalidation?

‘Build reflection into everyday practice – that is the point of revalidation,’ Dr Walters says.

‘Plan and seek feedback in everyday activities. See it as part of your professional life so that it becomes part of your routine rather than a tedious chore. The other benefit is that you will probably find you get lots of positive feedback that you weren’t even expecting.'

How can my COVID-19 experience inform my revalidation?

‘Our registrants will have had a completely different professional experience from anything they have had before,’ says Dr Walters.

‘Any new experiences are going to be enlightening, good for personal development and will affect the way you carry on in your future career. I hope our nurses, midwives and nursing associates have felt the appreciation of the general public and how valued they are. That is quite affirming for them and that is great for our professionalism and makes us want to do an even better job than we already have been when we realise how valued we are.’

Webinars or other online events can count towards your participatory CPD hours

I was relying on a conference/training day/study day to count towards my participatory CPD hours, but this has now been cancelled. What can I do?

Dr Walters says: ‘The requirement to log at least 20 hours of participatory CPD may have been affected by the limitation on face-to-face activities and the cancellation of courses. To meet the participatory learning requirement, simply undertake activity that involves interaction with one or more other professionals in a physical or virtual environment. These can include webinars, Facebook Live events, online forum discussions.'

You could also check in with the conference organiser to see if a face-to-face event has been moved online.

‘Where possible, your reflective discussion and confirmation should take place face to face, but this could still be difficult,’ suggests Dr Walters. ‘The NMC advises making the most of phone calls, video chat and other technology to speak with reflective discussion partners and confirmers.’

If I do have an extension, for how long is my NMC registration valid?

Dr Walters says: ‘If you revalidate, the three-year registration period will still start from the original renewal date. This means there will be a short period of overlap between the extension to your current registration period and your new registration period. You can count any activities you undertake towards either of your revalidation applications, but you can’t count the same activities for both applications.’

How to keep your revalidation on track

Picture: iStock

Advice from RCN professional lead for education, learning and development Gill Coverdale:

  • Reflective statements take time and you don’t want to have to do it all at the last minute. Recording your reflections as you go along could help you deal with the unexpected pressure of working in these challenging times. You can do this on your break, on your way home or before you go to work. You can record them on straight on to a Word document or you can add them as a file into your portfolio to refer back to later
  • Book time in your diary to do your revalidation work. Not everyone will be able to find time at work to fill in their revalidation in this climate so try putting a reminder in the calendar you use at home like a dental appointment. That way it is built into your day rather than being an add on
  • Remember that the work you’re doing in the COVID-19 pandemic has been a once-in-a-generation challenge for nursing. The work you’re doing now, and what you’ve learned from it, could make up one of the five experiences you’ll need to reflect on
  • Be organised. It might not be possible to meet with people who could help with your reflection in the pandemic but you can use technology to plan your reflective discussion and your confirmation in good time. Video-calling can help you connect with people remotely. You can even work on documents together remotely using some software
  • Be prepared. You have three years to collect your revalidation evidence so don’t leave it until the last-minute. Start early

How to keep a revalidation record

Open University senior lecturer in children and young people’s nursing Wendy McInally
Wendy McInally

Open University senior lecturer in children and young people’s nursing Wendy McInally says being organised is key to success, and suggests the following:

  • Develop an electronic personal development portfolio (ePDP) to record and share learning, reflection and achievements as part of the professional development and career journey
  • Gather evidence throughout the three-year period and adding to the portfolio regularly under the five key areas. Collect feedback from colleagues, peers or service users and add to the portfolio
  • Gather evidence throughout the three-year period and adding to the portfolio regularly under the five key areas. Collect feedback from colleagues, peers or service users and add to the portfolio
  • Participate in online forums, such as virtual conferences, e-learning sessions, webinars, group reflective sessions with colleagues and record in your portfolio
  • Identify in advance who will support you in the confirmation of the revalidation requirements. It's always good to have someone in mind and discuss this with them prior to the event itself
  • To help you meet your revalidation requirements, choose from our extensive list of RCNi Learning CPD and How-to-learning modules.

RCNi's revalidation resources

Further information


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