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Step 4: Documentation and Evaluation

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Documentation and Evidence Requirements

The same can be said for CPD as with most things in nursing and midwifery: documentation and evidence are everything! The CPD Standard states that nurses and midwives must keep written documentation of CPD, including details of the completed activity, the number of CPD hours or minutes spent learning, evidence and a reflection on the benefits to their practice. Simply keeping a folder of certificates, or a list of activities you have completed is unlikely to be accepted during an audit. We recommend that you document your CPD as you go throughout the year, some nurses have described spending up to two days sorting their documentation out for an audit.

What Evidence is Required?

Evidence is the proof that you have undertaken your learning activities and that you have achieved a specific outcome or competency. It does not necessarily have to be represented in the form of a certificate: detailed documentation will suffice.

Evidence for Self-Directed Learning

Each registration year nurses and midwives combined will need to complete over 6.4 million hours of CPD (at the bare minimum). As a result, the vast majority of learning will most likely be self-directed. Demonstrating evidence of private CPD can be achieved through better documentation. There are many additional things to consider when managing your documentation at this level but the easiest way to get it right is to use a professional online CPD portfolio or CPD organiser.

What Documentation is Required?

You should document all learning that you have undertaken to improve your knowledge and competence throughout the registration year. This will help you:

  1. to demonstrate you have undertaken your professional obligations for competent practice
  2. to develop skills in reflecting on and communicating to others those competencies which are hard to see and measure (Andre & Heartfield, 2012).

 

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Evaluating and Reflecting on CPD Activities

Evaluating Your CPD

Effective CPD activities are those in which learning is most likely to lead to a change in practice. Therefore any CPD activity should be evaluated in terms of its impact on practice i.e. how did it make a difference? Evaluation reinforces learning and alignment with your learning goals, demonstrates relevance to competency or practice standards and helps you to choose your learning effectively.

To reflect on the value or impact of the CPD activity ask yourself:

  • What did I learn and which practice or competency standards/units were met as a result?
  • How did it align with my learning goals?
  • What was the impact on my practice?

Reflecting on a CPD Activity

Reflection on practice is a process of professional learning and development by examining your practice, including experiences, thoughts, feelings, actions and knowledge (ANMC, 2009).

Reflecting on a CPD activity is an opportunity which helps you to learn or reinforce your learning from the CPD experience.

Rather than accumulating information, reflection on your CPD experience helps you to integrate new knowledge with your existing knowledge and practice. Writing down your thinking about the CPD activity helps to clarify its relevance and usefulness for your practice and continuing competence.

 

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Calculating Your CPD Hours

When documenting your CPD, it's extremely important that you equate one hour of CPD to one hour of active learning. Active learning generally includes the presentation, instruction or study time but not the breaks during an educational activity. Remember, your calculations should be done in a logical and defensible way (ANCC, 2012). Final calculations should be rounded down to the nearest hour or half hour.

What to do When You Are Awarded Points, not Hours

Some CPD providers continue to award points despite their having no relevance to CPD documentation. Unfortunately, one point does not always equate to one hour. For example, an online CPD activity that awards three points may only take 30 minutes to complete. In this instance, the amount of CPD a nurse is able to claim is 30 minutes. If you are awarded a certificate that documents your CPD in units of credits or points, you may like to consider asking the provider for evidence quantified in CPD time (hours and minutes).

Calculating Self-Directed CPD Time

Self-directed CPD, using online nursing education platforms such as those available from Ausmed, will become increasingly popular in the future. Most self-directed CPD activities should give you an indication of the estimated time required to complete an activity. If you spend additional time learning, you are entitled to claim that time. If you complete the activity in less time than is allocated, you are not able to claim the entire CPD hours estimated on the resource web page, only the amount of time it took you to complete.

 

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Using a CPD Template or Portfolio

There are a myriad of templates available online which can be found through basic search engine queries. Many of these templates are insufficient documentation tools and would likely require nurses to provide significant evidence for their records if they were ever audited. Additionally, some of these templates may have been developed to meet the standards of state-based nursing boards (pre July 2010) and don't necessarily support modern documentation requirements. Ausmed's free online documentation tool, the CPD Organiser, is maintained by a team of developers and nurses who are actively developing new features for better compliance and more convenience on a regular basis.

 

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How Long Should I Store My CPD Documentation and Evidence for?

The NMBA recommends that you keep evidence of CPD, including self-directed learning, for a period of three years. If you are documenting your CPD online, you should never need to delete past records.

 

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