Do dynamic changes in the health sector demand continual professional development for nurses?

By Misbah Zafar

Learning is a dynamic cycle that never ends in life; however, it can vary with time. We all learn from our good and bad life experiences in our daily life and use that knowledge to make informed decisions. In our ever-changing world, where technology and practices are always evolving, continuing professional development is essential in the area of nursing. Because nursing is a practical profession and nursing practices are grounded on strong scientific shreds of evidence, nurses must maintain their knowledge up to date with the most recent nursing interventions. Continuous professional development is defined as maintaining and increasing professional knowledge, competence, and abilities throughout one’s career in line with a plan tailored to the professional’s, employer’s, professions, and society’s demands(. Madden and Mitchell (1993)). Thus, it is a continuous process of successful staff participation in learning activities that assist them to build and preserve their current abilities, improve their skill training, and advance their career goals (ANA, 2011).

What motivates nurses for CPD?

The goals and needs that motivate nurses for continuous learning may vary according to their age and position. A nurse’s learning process is vital for all roles in the nursing profession, whether she is a bedside nurse, a nurse educator, a researcher, or a nurse manager. For example, if they are working in the role of a nurse manager, to create an effective learning environment for novice nurses and students, they need to keep them up to date with their own latest knowledge. Sometimes informal learning also occurs by sharing skills and knowledge among nurses at their workplace.  According to Clarke, informal learning approaches such as supervision, attending team meetings/briefings, coaching, and observing were beneficial to nurses. Thus, continuous professional development can be done in both formal and informal settings. But essential element in both settings is the eagerness of nurses to update their knowledge and practices related to nursing care

Significance of CPD in Nursing

The continued professional development of nurses is a vital aspect of their ongoing learning and ensures that nurses’ knowledge and skills are up to date. According to Glasper (2018), the purpose of CPD is to encourage nurses to maintain and develop the skills required to provide high-quality, safe, and effective care in all roles and settings.

Benefits of CPD


Patients expect safe and quality nursing care from nurses.  CPD is a way to enhance learning to fulfill the expectations of patients.

Improved patient safety

Professional benefits

Participating in CPD activities assists nurses in developing new professional knowledge and abilities, hence staying up to date with new advancements in nursing practice, and earning credentials also

Individual benefits

 While considering individual benefits of CPD for nurse sit enhances job satisfaction. Personal growth occurs as a result of their increased knowledge they understand their profession more in-depth which results in job satisfaction.

Organizational benefits

Reduced health care cost. If the staff is working well by utilizing the latest knowledge and providing quality care then it will earn also a good name for the organization

Benefits to novice nurses

When novice nurses join clinical settings after their graduation they are required to socialize in the new environment and experienced nurse managers can facilitate this adjustment. If nurse managers will be well aware of current practices and knowledge then there would be less gap between them. As novice nurses bring current knowledge from the school of nursing but due to less experience, they are unable to incorporate this knowledge into practice. At this stage when the nurse manager is also updated with the latest evidence-based practices then she can easily incorporate her knowledge into practice. In this way, novice nurses and nurse managers both can create a productive working environment. There would be less conflict between novice and expert nurses. However, learning the art and science of a healthcare profession is a complex task.

Barriers to CPD

 Sometimes nurses want to continue their learning process but several factors are hindering the process.  Such as difficulty in obtaining study leave, shortage of nurses, family and household responsibilities, living in rural areas, lack of economic assistance and lack of early notice are some of the factors hindering the learning process. Moreover, sometimes programs are not appropriate to the practice area so it also is the cause of lack of interest are all identified as barriers preventing nurses from participating in ongoing professional development (Osei, et al, 2019)

People who participate in CPD programs put extra time and effort and are under a lot of pressure to the time constrain as they must reconcile learning with a full-time job and household duties as well (Cate, 2013).

Solutions to barriers

  • CPD programs should focus on individual learning needs and this will cover the barrier of time constrain. Planning of CPD programs should be done by keeping in view the contemporary organizational policies and availability of human resources.
  • Well-structured programs developed by education and clinical partners seem to be more effective.
  • Approaches for continued professional development should target both groups younger and older nurses.
  • After a CPD session, the clinical audit should be done to monitor change in nursing practices and for the sustainability of learned knowledge.

Conclusion In brief, in today’s dynamically changing healthcare environment, educators and managers must understand the aspects that increase the effectiveness of ongoing professional development. This is particularly important in the rapidly changing healthcare environment during the Covid-19 outbreak when the health world is transitioning to telemedicine.

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