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Nursing revalidation: what it means for you

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New revalidation rules come into force from 31 December 2015. While that may seem a long way off, it’s never too soon to become familiar with the new system and what it means for you.

‘If your revalidation comes up next year, you should be having a conversation with your manager about the process now. If you’re a nurse manager, it’s important to know who is coming up for revalidation and to identify those who may not meet the new requirements,’ says Howard Catton, Head of Policy and International Affairs, The Royal College of Nursing.

Whether you’re a nurse or nurse manager, here’s what you need to know.

What’s changing and why?

The idea behind revalidation – proving your on-going fitness to practice – is nothing new. Nurses are already required to register annually with the Nursing and Midwifery Council and to declare they have met the post-registration education and practice requirements every three years.

Revalidation, which was a key recommendation to come out of the Francis Inquiry, means that nurses will have to do more to remain on the Nursing and Midwifery Council register. Importantly, revalidation brings with it an additional level of monitoring, as every nurse will need to be signed off by their manager, another registered nurse or a supervisor.

From the end of the year, nurses will need to demonstrate their understanding and adherence to the updated NMC Code and gather third-party feedback: as evidence to support reflections on practice, (which could be from patients, clients, peers or students) and confirming fitness to practice, which could be from a manager, another registered nurse or a supervisor.

In addition, the continuing professional development (CPD) requirement is increasing from 35 hours in three years to 40. At the moment, nurses are only asked to confirm that they have undertaken CPD. Under the new rules, every nurse will need to provide evidence that they have met the standards to their manager.

Learning and development portfolio

The new reflection piece brought in by the NMC puts an emphasis on what you have learned and more importantly, how it has changed your practice, explains Howard.

‘Look at your individual portfolio of learning and development over the last two to three years. Think about a range of learning opportunities: the events you’ve been to, the articles you’ve read, training courses you’ve attended, case-management meetings you’ve participated in.

‘Record keeping is important, and something you should already be doing, but it’s not enough to just tick boxes. Start thinking about how each learning opportunity has changed your practice.’

Gathering third-party feedback

Nurses will now need to obtain five pieces of practice-related feedback. This can be formal or informal, written or verbal.

‘Think about what feedback you’ve received from patients, colleagues and clients and what it meant for you in terms of learning and changing your practice,’ says Howard.

Obtaining feedback from patients (collecting letters, stories and data with consent) is a good way to capture learning in practice. Evidence from colleagues, for example, if you have undertaken observations of practice and given verbal and written feedback, can be used in the appraisal process.

The new NMC code

As part of revalidation, nurses need to complete five written reflections on the NMC code and discuss this with another registrant. The new updated NMC code comes into force from 31 March 2015.

Howard explains: ‘The seminal document has increased relevance to the revalidation process, as nurses will now have to cross reference back to the code and reflect on learnings against it. So it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with it now.

‘Lots of things are the same or very similar but there are important changes – such as new guidance on social media, professional duty of candour and raising concerns, and a greater emphasis on compassionate care.’

Advice for nurse managers

Appraisals are a central part of the revalidation process. As well as ensuring a consistent approach is taken to revalidation across the organisation, managers should think specifically about how and when appraisals are conducted.

‘If you’re in a management position, do you know how many of the nurses you manage are coming up for revalidation in each year?’ asks Howard. ‘You’ll need to block out more time for appraisals for those coming up for revalidation. There may also be training requirements you need to think about.’

Changes to rules around CPD – 20 hours now have to be participatory rather than just self-directed learning – may require you to give more time to employees to complete them, adds Howard.

Pilot schemes

The new revalidation process is currently being piloted across the UK. While you may be tempted to wait until the final model is in place to start thinking about revalidation, Howard warns against leaving it to the last minute.

‘I would advise managers and employers to follow the nursing press and stay up to date with the findings of the pilot sites.

‘Start preparing now, and the revalidation process will be that much easier once the new rules are finalised and come into force at the end of the year.’

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