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What is CPD?

Nursing in Australia is undertaken in an ever-changing environment. Numerous factors contribute to the need for nurses’ ongoing learning and experience, such as:

  • Increasing consumer expectations
  • Demographic and social changes
  • Changes in the way that health professionals relate to each other
  • Technological developments
  • Shifting focuses in medicine; a growing emphasis on evidence-based research and introduction of therapeutic alternatives.

Ongoing learning is now recognised as an essential component of Registration by the Nursing & Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA). The NMBA has developed registration standards that apply to numerous measures and requirements of nursing competency. One such requirement of all practicing nurses and midwives is an annual commitment to at least 20 hours of continuing professional development (CPD). See our CPD and National Registration page for more details.

CPD requirements provide a framework against which nurses can test their commitment to ongoing training. Similar to CPD requirements expected of professionals in other industries, nurses are provided with a significant degree of autonomy and self-regulation. Appropriate CPD activities can range from continuous self-development tasks, (e.g. maintaining a journal on findings in workplace experience) to broader duties that may contribute to the profession as a whole (e.g. becoming a member of a professional group, council or committee). See below for some more examples of professional development activities for nurses.

APNA has developed an online CPD Portal which will assist you in meeting the CPD requirements of national registration by enabling you to:

  • Develop, view and print your CPD record
  • Reflect on areas for improvement and further learning
  • Develop learning plans based on your reflections.

Some examples of active continuing professional development include:

  • Reflecting on feedback, keeping a practice journal
  • Acting as a preceptor/mentor/tutor
  • Participating on accreditation, audit or quality improvement committees
  • Undertaking supervised practice for skills development
  • Participating in clinical audits, critical incident monitoring, case reviews and clinical meetings
  • Participating in a professional reading and discussion group
  • Developing skills in IT, numeracy, communications, improving own performance, problem solving and working with others
  • Writing or reviewing educational materials, journal articles, books
  • Active membership of professional groups and committees
  • Reading professional journals or books
  • Writing for publication
  • Developing policy, protocols or guidelines
  • Working with a mentor to improve practice
  • Presenting at or attending workplace education, in-service sessions or skills workshops
  • Undertaking undergraduate or postgraduate studies which are of relevance to the context of practice
  • Presenting at or attending conferences, lectures, seminars or professional meetings
  • Conducting or contributing to research
  • Undertaking relevant online or distance education

(Australian Nursing and Midwifery, 2009)

As the peak professional body for nurses working in primary health care, APNA provide a range of services to support the professional development needs of both its members and the wider primary health care nurse workforce. As well as being a respected and vocal advocate for the nursing voice at a national level, APNA also provide:

  • An annual national conference for nurses working in primary health care including general practice
  • APNA Online Learning, with a range of flexible and often discounted online courses
  • The APNA CPD Portal for nurses to record their CPD activities
  • An endorsement program for educational activities that meet the high professional standards of APNA and its members
  • A quarterly journal Primary Times
  • A fortnightly eNews with latest news and information
  • Web-based clinical and professional resources 
  • Telephone and email support for professional development and education enquiries


CPD and National Registration

It is vital that nurses increase their knowledge and skills in nursing practice, using a system that values and measures the time and effort they invest.

National registration for health professionals, including nurses working in primary health care, commenced 1 July 2010. As part of the national registration scheme the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) has published a draft Standard on what the requirements may be for nurses and midwives.

APNA members are able to access the APNA CPD Portal through this website. The APNA CPD Portal allows members to record their professional development in a systematic way. It is designed to enable registered nurses to meet the CPD requirements under national registration.

To find out more about the APNA CPD Portal click here. 


Requirements under the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia Continuing professional development registration standard are:

1. Nurses on the nurses’ register will participate in at least 20 hours of continuing nursing professional development per year.

2. Midwives on the midwives’ register will participate in at least 20 hours of continuing midwifery professional development per year.

3. Registered nurses and midwives who hold scheduled medicines endorsements or endorsements as nurse or midwife practitioners under the National Law must
complete at least 10 hours per year in education related to their endorsement.

4. One hour of active learning will equal one hour of CPD. It is the nurse or midwife’s responsibility to calculate how many hours of active learning have taken place. If CPD activities are relevant to nursing and midwifery professions, those activities may be counted in each portfolio of professional development.

5. The CPD must be relevant to the nurse or midwife’s context of practice.

6. Nurses and midwives must keep written documentation of CPD that demonstrates evidence of completion of a minimum of 20 hours of CPD per year.

7. Documentation of self-directed CPD must include dates, a brief description of the outcomes, and the number of hours spent in each activity. All evidence should be verified. It must demonstrate that the nurse or midwife has:

a) identified and prioritised their learning needs, based on an evaluation of their practice against the relevant competency or professional practice standards
b) developed a learning plan based on identified learning needs
c) participated in effective learning activities relevant to their learning needs
d) reflected on the value of the learning activities or the effect that participation will have on their practice.

8. Participation in mandatory skills acquisition may be counted as CPD.

9. The Board’s role includes monitoring the competence of nurses and midwives; the Board will therefore conduct an annual audit of a number of nurses and midwives registered in Australia.

Click here to view a PDF of the Continuing Professional Development Registration Standards 

Click here to view a FAQ on Continuing Professional Development for Nurses and Midwives 

For more information from the Nursing and Midwifery Board Australia go to www.nursingmidwiferyboard.gov.au.