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BLOG: The NMC explains the revalidation pilots

When I think about my own experiences of using the health service over the years, I'm struck by the high degree of professionalism and compassion in the delivery of care. Sometimes we forget that cases like Mid Staffs are the exception and that every single day, thousands of people are well-cared for.

Nurses and midwives are increasingly being asked to do more, and the services they provide must continue to keep up with the modern healthcare market. They are finding themselves taking on more tasks and working collaboratively in diverse teams. As the roles of healthcare professionals become more challenging, there's a need for greater accountability and ownership of day-to-day performance at work.

Revalidation will address the need for the renewal process to match the modern work environment. The process will involve reflection on the Code and engaging in discussions with other registered professionals, which will tackle professional isolation and bring about improvements in practice. If every nurse and midwife makes one aspect of their practice better against the standards in the Code, revalidation will have a significant overall impact.

We piloted revalidation in 19 healthcare settings - both NHS and non-NHS - across the UK. These pilots finished in June, and we have commissioned an independent evaluation of the revalidation experience.

Initial findings released recently have some very positive stories to tell. They indicate that revalidation is achievable, desirable and realistic, and many of the pilot participants found that any concerns were put to rest when they actually went through the process. The opportunity to reflect on what it really means to be a nurse or midwife was broadly welcomed, with many participants finding it a positive experience.

Revalidation builds on things that nurses and midwives are already doing. We are hearing great accounts of the Code becoming embedded in practice and processes at many organisations, and that people already reflecting on their practice on a day-to-day basis without necessarily calling what they are doing 'reflection'. Reflection, which is not an academic exercise but rather a practical account of everyday practice, is the key to bringing the Code to life and to making revalidation meaningful. It's excellent for us to hear that this is already happening.

While revalidation will significantly change the renewal process, getting ready for it is straightforward. Revalidation will be entirely online, so the key first step is to sign up to NMC Online. Once someone has an NMC Online account, they can check their renewal date to know when they are due to revalidate. Reading the provisional guidance and becoming familiar with the requirements is also essential.

Of course, it's not only nurses, midwives and their employers who need to prepare for revalidation. At the NMC we still have work to do to ensure that revalidation is a success and that everyone understands the process before they go through it. We will be simplifying the guidance so that it is completely clear how each revalidation requirement fits with the others. We'll explain the benefits of each requirement, and provide practical examples and case studies to demonstrate how the requirements work in practice.   

Although the pilots spanned a wide range of settings, we must continue to raise awareness of revalidation across all areas where nurses and midwives work. We know that practice nurses do not always have the same accessible network of fellow professionals as those who work in traditional hospital settings. While it's our job to make sure everyone on our register has the opportunity to familiarise themselves with revalidation, it's the job of nurses and midwives to proactively make sure they can fulfil the requirements. If you don't have an existing network of peers, why not create one by reaching out to professionals further afield who work in a similar way?

The pilot organisations have been integral to helping us identify areas for further work, and to reassuring their staff that revalidation is a straightforward and positive process. We're focused now on making the changes highlighted during the pilot, so we can get revalidation absolutely up to speed before a final decision is made by our Council in October.