Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia
Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia

Fact sheet: Continuing professional development

New version effective from 1 June 2016

A new version of this fact sheet will come into effect on 1 June 2016. For more information, read the news item

Current CPD fact sheet effective until 31 May 2016

Download a PDF copy of these Fact sheet: Continuing professional development (319 KB,PDF). 

Nurses and midwives registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA or the National Board) are expected to do a minimum number of continuing professional development (CPD) hours directly relevant to the nurse or midwife’s context of practice.

The following facts address common queries that you might have about CPD.

CPD is the means by which members of the professions maintain, improve and broaden their knowledge, expertise and competence, and develop the personal and professional qualities required throughout their professional lives.

Practice means any role, whether remunerated or not, in which the individual uses their skills and knowledge as a nurse and/or midwife. For the purposes of this registration standard, practice is not restricted to providing direct clinical care. It also includes working in a direct non-clinical relationship with clients, working in management, administration, education, research, advisory, regulatory or policy development roles, and any other roles that impact on safe, effective delivery of services in the profession and/or use their professional skills.

Midwifery professional practice review requires the continuing collection of information and data that are then used at intervals of every three years in a formal professional review process. The review is a process for assessing the competence of a midwife with the equivalent of three years’ full-time post registration experience, as well as their current competence to provide pregnancy, labour, birth and post natal care to women and infants across the continuum.

Nurses and midwives may choose not to work in the profession for a variety of reasons (such as maternity leave, extended overseas travel, moving overseas, an extended career break or retirement) but may still wish to retain registration.

Under these circumstances, you must continue to undertake CPD in relation to your context of practice (see the question: How do I describe my context of practice?). Remember that ‘context of practice’ is not restricted to providing direct clinical care.

However, you may request to register as ‘non-practising’ – in this case you do not need to do CPD while you are on the non-practising register.

See our Registration and endorsement section for more information.

Context of practice refers to the conditions that define an individual’s nursing and/or midwifery practice. These include:

  • the type of practice setting (e.g. clinical care, management, administration, education, research) 
  • the location of the practice setting (e.g. urban, rural, remote); the characteristics of patients or clients (e.g. health status, age, learning needs) 
  • the focus of nursing and/or midwifery activities (e.g. health promotion, research, management) 
  • the degree to which practice is autonomous, and 
  • the resources that are available, including access to other healthcare professionals.

If you are selected for audit you will be required to complete an audit checklist that outlines the documents you need to show as evidence of completing your CPD.

CPD records may include participation in the following activities:

  • Tertiary, vocational and other accredited courses including distance education (needs to relate to context of practice) 
  • Conferences, forums, seminars and symposia 
  • Short courses, workshops, seminars and discussion groups through a professional group or organisation who may issue a certificate of compliance/completion. 
  • Mandatory learning activities in the workplace in the area of practice 
  • Service to the profession 
  • Self-directed learning, and 
  • Any other structured learning activities not covered above.
Type of Registration Minimum Hours Total Hours
Registered nurse or Enrolled nurse 20 hours 20 hours
Midwife 20 hours 20 hours
Registration as a registered nurse and midwife  Registered nurse - 20 hours

Midwife - 20 hours 
40 hours
Registration as an enrolled nurse and midwife  Enrolled nurse - 20 hours

Midwife - 20 hours
40 hours
Nurse practitioner

(Registered nurse with endorsement)
Registered nurse - 20 hours 

Nurse practitioner endorsement - 10 hours relating to prescribing and administration of medicines, diagnostics investigations, consultation and referral
30 hours 
Midwife practitioner

(Midwife with endorsement) 
Midwife - 20 hours

Endorsement - 10 hours relating to prescribing and administration of medicines, diagnostics investigations, consultation and referral 
30 hours 
Registered nurse with scheduled medicines endorsement (rural and remote)  Registered nurse - 20 hours 

Scheduled medicines -10 hours
30 hours 
Eligible midwife 

(Midwife with notation)
Midwife - 20 hours 

Notation - 20 hours relevant to the context of practice and across the continuum of midwifery care 
40 hours 
Endorsed eligible midwife (scheduled medicines) 

(Eligible midwife with endorsement)
Midwife - 20 hours 

Endorsement - 20 hours (e.g.10 hours relating to continuum of midwifery care and 10 hours relating to prescribing and administration of medicines, diagnostics investigations, consultation and referral). 
40 hours 
Registration as a nurse and endorsed eligible midwife  Registered nurse - 20 hours/Enrolled nurse - 20 hours

Midwife - 20 hours

Eligible midwife with a scheduled medicines endorsement - an additional 20 hours (e.g.10 hours relating to continuum of midwifery care and 10 hours relating to prescribing and administration of medicines, diagnostics investigations, consultation and referral).
40 hours

In addition, an eligible midwife is also required to successfully complete a Board-approved midwifery professional practice review (MPPR) every three (3) years to demonstrate competence in providing pregnancy, labour, birth and postnatal care to women and their infants across the continuum of midwifery care.

If CPD activities are relevant to both nursing and midwifery professions, those activities may be counted as evidence for both nursing and midwifery CPD hours. The activities should be relevant to your context of practice and improve your knowledge, expertise and competence as a nurse and midwife.

The National Board recommends that you keep evidence of CPD, including self-directed learning, for a period of three years.

Your documentation of the identified learning need, a learning plan, your participation in the learning activity and the outcome achieved will form the evidence of CPD you may need to provide. References to the articles that you have read are required for self-directed activities.

The table in Appendix 1 gives you an example of how to enter CPD activities.

No, the National Board has the discretion to select a random number of nurses and midwives at any time.

You will need to show evidence that you have completed the requirements and provide a copy of your CPD plan for the previous year (1st June – 31 May).

Some professional organisations may offer their CPD activities in terms of points.  Audited nurses and midwives need to speak to the relevant professional organisation to confirm the hours-equivalent of CPD from those points they have completed.

Mandatory learning activities in the workplace may be counted as CPD provided they are relevant to your context of practice.

You are able to apply to the National Board for an exemption in exceptional circumstances if you feel that you have not met your minimum hours for CPD. (refer to question: How do I apply for an exemption?)

At the time of renewal, you are required to make a declaration regarding recency of practice and CPD.

If you declared that you met your quota for CPD and recency of practice, and the audit shows that you did not, you may be contacted to provide additional information. Following review of the information you give, the matter may be referred to the National Board for consideration.

The registration standard states that the National Board reserves the right to give exemptions in individual cases.

Refer to the National Board Policy for exemption from continuing professional development for nursing and midwifery under Codes and guidelines on the National Board website.

  • Use the Contact us button at the top of the National Board website to lodge an online enqiry form
  • For registration enquiries: 1300 419 495 (within Australia), +61 3 8708 9001 (overseas callers)
  • For media enquiries: (03) 8708 9200
Date Source
or provider details
Identified learning needs  Action plan Type of activity Description of topic/s covered during activity and outcome Reflection on activity and specification to practice No./Title/
of evidence provided
CPD hours
17/5/12 NMBA RN Competency sandard
1. Practises in accordance with legislation affecting nursing practice and health care

Clarify responsibility for aspects of care with other members of the health team.

Unsure of my delegation responsibilities in the workplace.

Plan : Access and review decision making framework
Self directed -

Review of decision making framework from the National Board website.  
Reviewed the scope of practice for my profession and that of me as an individual. Gained an appreciation of the principles I need to apply when making decisions about my nursing practice and when and how I decide to delegate activities to other RN’s and EN’s. This activity has enabled me to achieve my learning need as per my learning plan. As a team leader working in intensive care I will be able to apply the Nursing decision making framework when I allocate staff to patient care and delegate tasks as they arise during a shift. Refer Item 6 2 hrs
23/5/12 ALS in practice (XYZ Provider) NA NA Workshop ALS re-accreditation This activity provided me with new theory and a practical competence assessment in relation to advanced life support. I will be able to apply this to patients in respiratory/cardiac arrest and when part of the medical emergency team. Refer item 7

Certificate of Attendance
3 hrs
30/5/12 Obstetric Emer-gency Training (XYZ Provider) NA NA Workshop Obstetric Emergency re-accreditation This activity provided me with new theory and a practical competence assessment in obstetric emergencies. Refer item 8 3 hrs
Page reviewed 1/02/2016