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Revalidation is not a reason to retire

A group of Unite’s professional officers for healthcare volunteered to make sure that revalidation would be suitable for community nurses

Last year, the NMC announced that it was ready to pilot the new revalidation programme, so a group of Unite’s professional officers for healthcare volunteered to make sure that it would be suitable for community nurses and others in non-traditional roles. We are all specialist community public health nurses.

We had three months to get all our paperwork together, rather than the three years of a revalidation cycle; it was a bit of a rush. Verifying our hours was easy as we had contracts, but we did have to make sure that only nurse-related hours were counted. We found that Unite did not have a professional indemnity arrangement for us, so they had to take one out. This was not difficult or expensive but those working in non-NHS areas such as private schools, factories or charities will have to check if they are similarly covered.

We had recently rolled out some training to our members on CPD and so had a working knowledge of all permutations on this. It is often thought that just study days or formal learning events count, but we were aware that your CPD journey is a personal one and will cover anything which leads to you developing professionally at this particular stage in your working life. The requirement of 35 hours over three years is minimal; the only change is that now we write it up and relate it to the NMC code of professional practice.

The two bits which were new were the five pieces of practice related feedback and the five reflections followed by a discussion. The NMC has now produced a template for feedback, but we had to interpret what they wanted. We quickly realised the potential for using the feedback and reflecting on it, which means less work overall.Personal reflection in practice is something I’ve always done but it has fallen down the agenda so there may be nurses for whom this is an obstacle. We suggest you use this as an opportunity.

We liked the addition of a reflective discussion, as somehow it seems more robust. The NMC assumes this will happen as part of your annual appraisal, but where nurses are not working in a standard setting we have suggested a ‘meeting of minds’ with another practitioner as an opportunity to widen the professional discussion.

Having completed our pilot, we were keen to bring our learning to our members at their workplaces, and advertised this through our networks. We were inundated with requests, and have met with over 3500 nurses, mostly community. We heard rumours of nurses nearing retirement saying ‘this is the last straw, I’m off’, and we have made efforts to persuade staff that this new revalidation programme is not as arduous as it seems.

The difference is that the responsibility to complete the requirements is down to each registrant. We have suggested that you make this an on-going commitment rather than a three yearly one, so that as your revalidation date comes up, you just go to the place where you keep your portfolio, make sure you have done or booked a time for your revalidation or confirmation discussions, and go online to submit within the time period. Revalidation shouldn’t mean the end of the road for your career, but the start of a new one.

Rosalind Godson, professional officer, Unite