Guide to CPD


  • Continuing professional development (CPD) is the process in which health professionals maintain relevant skills and competencies throughout their professional careers.
  • For health professionals who are currently practicing, CPD must relate to their context of practice.
  • Follow the four-step CPD process (identify learning goals, develop a learning plan, engage in relevant education, and documentation and evaluation) to ensure you're correctly maintaining your CPD.
  • Formal reflection and documentation must be undertaken for any of these activities to be contributable towards your mandatory CPD requirements.
  • Maintain an up-to- date CPD portfolio of CPD activities in case of an audit

What is CPD?

Continuing professional development (CPD) is the process in which health professionals maintain relevant skills and competencies throughout their professional careers. For health professionals who are currently practicing, this must relate to their context of practice

The concept of CPD is not new; the nursing profession has been engaging in professional development since day one. If you've ever acted as a preceptor, mentor or tutor for another nurse, then you've engaged in CPD. However, governments and health departments are now recommending a more formal approach to continuing professional development.

Nursing and midwifery practice is evolving rapidly - fuelled by improvements in technology, medications, and methods of care. In addition to this, the pressures placed on our healthcare system by an ageing population, chronic illness, and sheer population growth have resulted in nurses and midwives working to their full scope of practice more and more frequently.

As a result, nurses are not only working in riskier professional settings but are also required to know more than ever before. These factors highlight the need for a formal professional development framework; in particular, a framework that encourages participation in educational activities that meet the unique learning goals of each nurse or midwife.

Why Was CPD Introduced?

CPD was made mandatory for all nurses and midwives in Australia on 1 July 2010. The introduction of CPD was part of a raft of changes implemented by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) during the transition to national registration.

The CPD Standard, a publication of the NMBA, provides a clear outline of the legislative requirements for CPD. However, little advice is given on how to actually meet these requirements. To help address this, we’ve developed the following guide.

What Are the Benefits of CPD?

The introduction of mandatory CPD is a fantastic milestone in the professionalisation of nursing and midwifery in Australia. It not only helps raise the public and professional profile of nurses, but significantly extends the capacity for education to improve the quality of the care provided.

Nurses are powerful and extremely influential people; they are quick to adapt to change and are highly respected members of their communities. The commitment to provide the highest possible level of leadership and care is what motivates them, but education is what enables them.

A CPD standard is vital for the nursing and midwifery professions as it will further extend the vital contribution nurses and midwives make to the health of all Australians.

What’s the CPD Process?

Deciding on and following through with your CPD is often described as a four-step process. The four steps to the CPD process are:

  1. Reflecting on your practice and identifying your learning goals
  2. Developing a learning plan
  3. Engaging in education (relevant your scope of practice)
  4. Documenting and evaluating your learning outcomes
CPD Cycle

You'll see it's not that dissimilar to the nursing process (or other planning processes). It is a cyclical activity that involves renewing practice, identifying learning goals, planning and participating in relevant learning activities, and reflecting on the value of those activities. The final step: evaluation, completes the feedback loop.

How Much CPD do I Need to Complete?

The requirements for CPD hours to be completed are entirely dependent on your profession. To ensure you’re maintaining your CPD to the required standards, please read the standards governed and enforced by your regulatory body.

To calculate your CPD requirements - use our online CPD calculator.

What Counts as CPD?

There are a variety of activities that can be considered CPD. It can be formal learning such as a postgraduate course, or an opportunistic unscheduled event from your experience that includes reflection on your practice.

Examples of CPD include (but are not limited to):

  • Attending a CPD seminar or workshop
  • Attending a conference
  • Watching a video learning activity online
  • Listening to nursing lectures
  • Online CPD for nurses or midwives in general
  • Writing or reviewing educational materials, nursing articles, journal articles or books
  • Completing a self-directed learning package
  • Presenting at an insservice, workshop or developing educational tools
  • Undertaking postgraduate course units which are of relevance to your context of practice
  • Acting as a preceptor, mentor or tutor
  • Reflecting on feedback, keeping a practice journal
  • Participating in clinical audits, critical incident monitoring, case reviews or clinical meetings
  • Participating in a professional reading and discussion group
  • Developing policy, protocols and guidelines
  • Working with a mentor to improve practice

Recording and Managing CPD

How do I record and manage my CPD?

Formal reflection and documentation must be undertaken upon completion of any activity in order to be contributable towards your mandatory CPD requirements. The activities must be recorded to prove the knowledge is applicable and practical in relation to your professional practice.

All activities must be recorded with respect to your regulatory guidelines. In order to manage your CPD it is best to maintain a Portfolio of your activities (within a given registration period) that is current and up-to-date. Random CPD audits are conducted to determine if health professionals are complying with their CPD requirements. A Portfolio is the most secure way to ensure you are meeting these requirements set by your relevant regulatory board.

While there are many ways to manage your Portfolio, it is advised to do so through online services. The reasons for this are: the flexibility to access the Portfolio anywhere and anytime you need; the removal of unnecessary paperwork; and reducing the risk of losing your proof of documentation. Online CPD Portfolio tools are secure and back up your important documents at just a click of a button.