Continuous professional development and mentorship 

Nurses are engaged with education at many different levels. Many nurses provide education either formally or informally such as in-service. Nurses will also pursue their own education or look to ongoing professional development.

Within these pages you will find information related to education for nurses.

CPD and portfolio development

As part of national registration requirements, it is mandatory for nurses to undertake a minimum of 20 hours of professional development a year and keep a written log of these. Often there are also requirements to identify learning needs and outcomes of activities. These can be compiled in portfolios and should be considered a living document. [1]

Examples of CPD activities include:

  • Accredited courses
  • Conferences, forums, seminars and symposia
  • Short courses and workshops
  • Mandatory workplace learning
  • Self-directed learning.

Nurses are also usually required to update themselves in relation to their nursing role, such as annual competency updates (e.g., manual handling or CPR). There are, however, barriers which exist to nurses’ pursuing CPD which include: cost, getting time off work, childcare and home responsibilities. [2] This has given rise to the utilisation of online self-directed learning resources and packages.

The requirements for nursing CPD are set out in the Nursing and Midwifery Board Australia (NMBA) Registration standard: Continuing professional development. The accompanying Guidelines: Continuing Professional Development document helps you to understand the NMBA’s expectations and requirements and how to meet them.

The NMBA also has a factsheet on CPD processes, definitions, and relevant activities.

CareSearch has a list of palliative care-related education opportunities that you might be interested:


Mentors are experienced clinicians who provide help, guidance and support to those who are less experienced. Mentors can help to inspire and empower mentees, such as including them in clinical decision-making. [3] It is defined by a long term relationship that takes place outside of the immediate work setting and includes confidential discussions.

Mentoring in nursing is a familiar concept and all nurses at one time or another will be called upon to mentor a colleague. This may be a more junior nurse or student, or someone new to your clinical area, and it may be a short-term or long-term arrangement.

Mentoring emerged as a strategy to support nurse’s career advancement during the 1970s and since then has grown in the literature as either a formal or informal process. [4]

If you are taking on the role of mentor the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Journal provides 10 tips on effective mentorship.

Preceptorship differs to mentoring in that it is directly related to teaching and supervision related to practical skills development within the work setting. [4] The skills developed through this short-term relationship can be observed and measured. [3]

  1. Mills J. Professional portfolios and Australian registered nurses’ requirements for licensure: Developing an essential tool. Nurs Health Sci. 2009 Jun;11(2):206-10.
  2. Schweitzer DJ, Krassa TJ. Deterrents to nurses' participation in continuing professional development: an integrative literature review. J Contin Educ Nurs. 2010 Oct;41(10):441-7; quiz 448-9. Epub 2010 Jun 8.
  3. Connell SE, Yates P, Barrett L. Understanding the optimal learning environment in palliative care. Nurse Educ Today. 2011 Jul;31(5):472-6. Epub 2010 Sep 20.
  4. Mills J, Francis K, Bonner A. Mentoring, clinical supervision and preceptoring: clarifying the conceptual definitions for Australian Rural Nurses. A review of the literature. Rural Remote Health. 2005 Jul-Sep;5(3):410. Epub 2005 Aug 11.

Last updated 20 August 2021