What is Continuing Professional Development (CPD)?

What does CPD mean?

CPD stands for Continuing Professional Development. It refers to the process of tracking and documenting the skills, knowledge and experience that you gain both formally and informally as you work, beyond any initial training. It’s a record of what you experience, learn and then apply. The term is generally used to mean a physical folder or portfolio documenting your development as a professional. Our system stores all of your information electronically in one place, so no more lost documents, no more time wasted trying to find information, its all here at your fingertips.


What is it for?

The CPD process helps you manage your own development on an ongoing basis. It’s purpose is to help you record, review and reflect on what you learn. It’s not a tick-box document recording the training you have completed. It’s much broader than that! For the purposes of NMC Nurse Revalidation you will need to complete 35 hours of CPD, 20 of which must be participatory.


Training and development – what’s the difference?

These terms are often used interchangeably, though there is a distinction. As a rule of thumb, training is formal and linear. It’s to do with learning how to do something specific, relating to skill and competence. Training can be as simple as using a PC application and as complex as learning how to be a pilot. Development is often informal and has a wider application, giving you the tools to do a range of things and relating to capability and competency. It involves progression from basic know-how to more advanced, mature or complex understanding.  Alternatively it can be about widening your range of transferable skills like leadership, managing projects or organising information.


The key features of the CPD process

To justify the name, a CPD needs to:

  •    be a documented process
  •    be self-directed: driven by you, not your employer
  •    focus on learning from experience, reflective learning and review
  •    help you set development goals and objectives
  •    Include both formal and informal learning.


What will it do for you?

A CPD is a requirement of your nursing registration to the NMC professional body. It can help you to reflect, review and document your learning and to develop and update your professional knowledge and skills. It is also very useful to:

  •    provides an overview of your professional development to date
  •    reminds you of your achievements and how far you’ve progressed
  •    directs your career and helps you keep your eye on your goals
  •    uncovers gaps in your skills and capabilities
  •    Opens up further development needs
  •    provides examples and scenarios for a CV or interview
  •    demonstrates your professional standing to clients and employers
  •    helps you with your career development or a possible career change


How do I start?

Nursing Matters will make the whole process easy and fun to complete. Our dedicated website will walk you through the whole process in just a couple of clicks. You can keep a reflective log and record your thoughts in whatever way suits you best, choosing from one of our dedicated templates. You may find it helpful to write things down in detail, for example, or to make notes on insights and learning points. The process of writing makes you think about your experiences at the time, and makes planning and reflection much easier. You can’t review your experiences without recording them, however good your memory is.



Answering the following questions may help you to get started:

Q. Where am I now?

Review and reflect on any learning experiences over the previous year or over the past three months. Write your thoughts down about what you learned; what insights it gave you and what you might have done differently. Include both formal training events and informal learning, such as:

  •    learning from colleagues or shared learning from networking
  •    reading about new technologies, new methods of working, legislative changes
  •    shadowing or assisting an experienced colleague
  •    insights and learning points from coaching and mentoring
  •    reflections, insights and learning points from taking on a new responsibility
  •    organisational or role change
  •    temporary job swaps within the department/hospitals
  •    deputising or covering for colleagues
  •    Shadowing or mentoring new staff
  •    insights and lessons learned from mistakes
  •    lessons learned from critical incidents or events

Make a note of any outcomes of each learning experience and what difference it has made to you, your colleagues, your students (if relevant) or your employer.

Q. Where do I want to be?

Write down your overall career goals on our dedicated section on the website, or upload written notes you have taken – where you want to be in two, five and 10 years’ time. Then write down no more than three specific and achievable shorter-term objectives, including the dates by which you want to achieve them.

Q. What do I have to do to get there?

Looking at your overall career goals, make a note of what you need to do to achieve them. This could include further training, job or role progression or changes in direction. Chose from one of our dedicated e Learning courses available.

For shorter term objectives, include the first step – what you can do today or tomorrow. For example, having a chat with your manager about a new responsibility or finding out about new technology from a colleague who has experience of it.

Q. When should I review progress?

This step is essential! You’ll need to set a date in advance for review of the objectives you’ve set yourself. You can either do this from one review to the next or decide to review regularly – once every three, six or 12 months. Put it in your diary on the website, let us remind you closer to the date and we’ll help you do it! The cycle of continuing professional development and revalidation has begun, all on one easy to use website that had Nurses at the very heart of the matter.

Q.What counts as CPD?

Broadly speaking, any activities you undertake in order to further your professional competence as part of a planned development program can be counted towards your CPD.

Although this is not an exhaustive list, appropriate activities may include:

  •    Ad hoc, undocumented private study
  •    Clinical audit activity
  •    Discussion group – informal learning set
  •    Distance learning – online/ formal (assessed and/or moderated by a third party)
  •    Distance learning – online/informal (not assessed)
  •    Distance learning – webinars
  •    Lecture by external provider
  •    Mentoring or being mentored
  •    Preparing a new lecture/presentation
  •    Project – working on a new project/in a new area of work
  •    Reading – planned and documented private study/reading
  •    Research – clinical
  •    Secondment to another workplace
  •    ‘Seeing practice’ – work-based observation
  •    Seminar/workshop – external
  •    Studying for an external qualification
  •    Training – in house
  •    Training as examiner/assessor

Workplace activities such as case conferences could also count as CPD activity if you systematically reflect on what you have learnt. Similarly, research and clinical audit activities can be recognised as adding to your professional development if you can account for how they have contributed to your own personal learning.


Revalidation Nurses

For those with Nurse Registration status who wish to renew their PIN, the revalidation process will look for evidence that you have continued to work in the Healthcare field using the easy to follow website platform. We will also look for evidence of appropriate professional development activities which you have undertaken, as well as offer a variety of evidence based practices and training on the website to make the process as stress free as possible.

CPD is therefore an important part of the Nurse Revalidation process. Although NMC does not prescribe the specific CPD activity to be carried out for revalidation, it does prescribe the required clinical hours and learning times required. More details on how to make a revalidation submission will be provided to all nurses on our website, with an easy to follow pathway.

Once the goals have been identified and mapped out, you can use the SMART goals application to structure the exact steps required to meet your learning goals, just like you would follow with a patient.