This site is intended for health professionals only

How much does your organisation benefit from the training you undertake?

Cheryll Adams
D(Nurs) MSc BSc(Hons), RN RHV Dip Man
Independent Adviser, Nursing, Health Visiting and Community Health Policy and Practice
Honorary Senior Visiting Lecturer
City University

It is every registered nurse and health visitor's responsibility to meet their post-registration education and practice (PREP) requirements to re-register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC); but how effective do you feel you are in accessing the right training to ensure that your practice is “fit
for purpose”?

Many community nurses, midwives and health visitors will easily meet the PREP requirements every three years. However, is this because you just carefully collect details of all education and training you undertake, or could you put your hand on your heart and say that you have developed a plan to guide you professionally? A plan that will ensure your personal professional development contributes towards chosen career goals, or meets the requirements of new clinical evidence or policy, or indeed allows you to deliver your service more effectively?

There is real value in not taking a random approach to PREP. Having the right education and training behind you will help you to embrace new career goals and will increase your job satisfaction; not to mention improve your patients/clients outcomes. If you work for a good employer they will share your goals and help you to achieve them, investing in quality education and training for their workforce, and release you to take specific academic qualifications. On the other hand, often when the belt has to be tightened in the NHS, it is the education and training of staff that frequently becomes an early victim. In successful businesses, staff training is usually the last thing to be affected by financial restraint; it is seen as essential to the future prosperity of the organisation.

Are we powerless to influence decision-making in relation to our education and training opportunities? I don't believe that we are. Often, courses are expensive and it is the student's responsibility to maximise the investment by their employer.
Nurses, midwives and health visitors must articulate the value of any specific training they wish to undertake and demonstrate how the service and their clients have benefited from it afterwards. Indeed, a good manager will request this as part of agreeing to support you, and will provide a proforma for you to record significant benefits from attending, including how you intend to use the training in your practice. We want value from the things we invest in, so we should be able to demonstrate that value to our employer! This process can seem tedious, but it is essential in one form or another, as value is not automatically guaranteed. 

I would like to suggest that community nurses, midwives and health visitors take more responsibility for demonstrating value from new learning themselves. The government is clear that they want to empower nurses and other professionals to have autonomy and authority over their work in the future. Working in the community is hence about to change, and registered nurses, health visitors and midwives must be ready to lead that change. Unless the professions can empower themselves to lead their practice they will continue to find themselves being managed within hierarchal structures.

Demonstrating professional effectiveness, from learning new skills or knowledge, is one easy step towards demonstrating the ability to have professional authority over your responsibilities at work. Furthermore, it can be a vehicle for groups of nurses, health visitors or midwives to enhance their practice, by sharing new knowledge.

Having a background in research, and research dissemination, has trained me to always think about why I am doing something before I do it; what the outcomes may be, and how they can add value in my professional role. Many who have shared their good practice with me have been encouraged to talk about what they have done at a conference, to publish it, and to think about how it might be developed for a
wider audience.

Such an approach, if used widely, both in relation to new knowledge and skills, and to new practice, might help to ensure the quality of community practice in the future. It would provide an enhanced evidence-based underpinning to the working structures you find yourself part of. When accepting professional autonomy it is essential to demonstrate that you are worthy of that autonomy. This may require a new way of working, and maximising your education and training opportunities will help boost the quality of your outcomes.