Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

Evidence of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is necessary for health professionals for the following reasons:

  • to maintain registration with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA)
  • may assist your defence if your professional competence is called into question
  • to satisfactorily complete workplace appraisals
  • to build resume when applying for promotion, position with new employer
  • may constitute evidence of RPL (recognised prior learning) when applying for entry into some education courses.

The last three points are also increasingly relevant to non-regulated workers in aged care.

The practice of health practitioners in Australia is regulated by the Health Practitioner National Law act. The register of health practitioners is maintained by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). AHPRA is the umbrella agency for the specialty boards which regulate the professions.

Regulated professions providing palliative care services to residents in aged care include; medicine, nursing, physiotherapy, pharmacy and podiatry. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers and occupational therapists also gained national registration under AHPRA in 2012.

Each of the national boards specifies continuing professional development activities that practitioners must undertake to maintain registration. While the specifications vary slightly between the professions they are broadly similar.

Nursing and Midwifery Board professional development requirements:

Key points regarding continuing registration requirements are:

  • nurses must undertake 20 hours of CPD annually
  • 1 hour of active learning is equivalent to 1CPD point
  • CPD must be relevant to context of practice
  • participation in mandatory skills acquisition may be counted as CPD activity
  • nurses must maintain a record of CPD activities undertaken.

Documentation must include:

  • dates activities undertaken
  • a brief description of outcome
  • hours spent in each activity
  • evidence should be verified
  • identified and prioritised learning needs based on an evaluation of practice against relevant competency and professional standards
  • an individualised learning plan based on identified needs
  • evidence of participation in effective learning relative to identified needs
  • reflection on the value of the learning to their practice.

Members of the Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) or the Australian College of Nursing (ACN) can access programs through these organisations to record their CPD activities.

  • Useful Tip

AHPRA is currently piloting a program to audit health practitioners’ compliance with mandatory registration standards (CPD, currency of practice) prior to implementing random audits of all health practitioners.

Registration Standards, Codes Guidelines and Statements for each of the professions are available from the relevant boards:

Last updated 30 January 2017