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Revalidation - What is it, and what does it mean for nurses?

It is likely that nurses will have gradually heard more and more about revalidation and, with the commencement date now here, many nurses will have already begun their renewal process. Revalidation goes live from April 2016, so Priory asks: what is it, and what does it mean for nurses?

Why it's important

Jane Stone, Priory Group Director of Nursing, says: "Well, here we are, revalidation is upon us - it's important for all nurses to think about what revalidation means for them, our patients and service users."

Revalidation is a new process being implemented to replace the current renewal requirements set out in Post Registration Education and Practice Standards (PREP). It's important, first and foremost, because it maintains your registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and allows you to continue practising. Its true value however, lies in the opportunity for the reflection it offers, for nurses to step back and review their skills, how they apply them, and also in how they are upholding the Nurses’ Code. In encouraging the sharing of skills and experiences, nurses can continue to strengthen relationships not only with each other but also the public and fellow professionals, and thereby cultivate the confidence of those they seek to help.

The Code

The Nurses' Code is a guideline set out to ensure those in the profession act responsibly and maintain the expected professional standards, and this is whether they are caring directly for patients or acting in an educational, leadership or research role. The Code outlines the principles that the nursing and midwifery professions must uphold. The four main statements are:

  • Prioritise people - emphasise care and safety, uphold the dignity of patients and listen to their concerns
  • Practise effectively - care to the best of a nurse's abilities, work co-operatively, share knowledge and experience, keep appropriate records, and always look to improve
  • Preserve safety - put public and patient safety first, take appropriate action when required and act within capabilities, use your 'duty of candour'
  • Promote professionalism and trust - uphold professional standards at all times, remain committed to standards of practice and behaviour, and always act with integrity

The full Code can be found here via the NMC website. Through revalidation, a nurse can reflect upon the profound philosophy and ethics of the Code, consider how they have been applying it in their professional life, and through this intertwining of Code and working practice, they can see where they have been at their best and, potentially, where they can improve.

How do you revalidate?

The revalidation process is to be completed in full online, every three years; you can register with the NMC online now via the NMC website here.

The revalidation requirements consist of the following:

  • 450 practice hours or 900 hours if revalidating as both nurse and midwife
  • 35 hours of continuing professional development (of which 20 must be participatory)
  • 5 pieces of practice-related feedback
  • 5 written reflective accounts
  • Reflective discussion
  • Health and character
  • Professional indemnity arrangement
  • Confirmation

This list may appear long but it is important not to be daunted by it; it's an extension of things nurses already do. Reflecting upon the care given throughout the day is a fantastic tool for improving upon it and shouldn't be underestimated.

Jane Stone adds: "Those colleagues who have already completed the process to revalidate, say that it is far more daunting before you do it, and since completing it, they really understand its importance, and value. I don't revalidate this year, but have started to collect my evidence and reflections...have you?"

Nurses can begin completing their revalidation up to 60 days before it's due, offering plenty of time to pull everything together, so don't give in to panic. For the full description of the revalidation requirements please see the NMC guidance and you can also find useful information through the Nursing Times.

Promoting good practice

It is important for nurses to remember as they go through the revalidation process that it isn't designed to assess their fitness to practise. Their great work in such a challenging and ever-changing environment is truly appreciated (even if after a long day it doesn't feel that way!) and nurses should feel assured this isn't in question. As in all professions, a period of reflection on what is working well, what isn't working well, and what can improve is vital to continued progression and evolution; think, perhaps, of Kaizen in business, the practice of continuous improvement.

Nurses are relied upon to take this opportunity for independent reflection, a form of self-assessment almost, and revalidation is a tool designed to aid this, to promote good practice by asking nurses to reflect upon all facets of their work.

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