Professional Development for Nurses and Why It’s So Important

Updated: Jan 7

Professional development has always been important, particularly in

nursing; but with so many recent advancements in technology and in the medical healthcare field, it’s now more important than ever. But what does professional development mean for nurses? What is considered professional development, and how does it benefit nurses and healthcare professionals?


What does professional development mean?

Professional development or continuing professional development (CPD) basically means ongoing training throughout your nursing career which keeps you up-to-date with the latest developments in healthcare. CPD also gives managers the opportunity to check in with nurses on how they’re doing and if they need any extra support in particular areas of practice.


Some facilities require nurses to complete a certain amount of CPD hours at regular intervals in their nursing careers.


Participatory Learning

As we know, the medical world is ever-evolving and changing as we learn more and so, best practices in healthcare are also ever-changing. No nurse is ever “finished” training as there is always more to learn so nurses and midwives need to develop their skillset on an ongoing basis to ensure that they are delivering the highest level of care possible. Many nurses learn better via practical learning and taking an active role in their development – which is known as participatory learning.


Participatory learning is basically any learning activity in which you interact with other people. Much of this training is done in workshop form or group work. Others can be in a conference-style which is physically attended or attending in a virtual setting. Some professional development training is provided in small-scale research studies, or by taking part in risk assessment and management activities.


Non-Participatory Learning

Non-participatory learning is just any other type of learning that doesn’t involve the presence of another person, like eLearning, reading, or reviewing publications. Some nurses choose to undertake courses that are accredited by third-level education providers or other recognized authorities. Many choose to do this on a part-time or distance-learning basis as they can keep up with their full-time nursing position at the same time.


What kind of activities is considering continuing professional development?

Continuing professional development can be a range of formal and informal activities. Some training can be delivered as formal training like the abovementioned conferences or workshops but others can be a lot less formal and done in the usual working environment. Nursing can receive training during coaching/mentoring sessions with managers, being trained on new equipment, completing reflective writing exercises, or presenting papers or posters to colleagues.


Why is it important?

Providing the best level of care to our patients is of the utmost importance and that means staying up to date on training. Our medical knowledge is always changing, particularly rapidly over the last few years with so many recent advancements in technology. It’s important for nursing professionals to stay up-to-date with these medical advancements both for their own professional development but also for the benefit of their patients.


CPD is important for your employer as they can assess your skillset to see if you require any additional support in certain procedures. This means that they are confident that you are doing your job to the best of your ability and that you are getting the support that you need.

CPD is important for you as a healthcare professional too. Professional development helps you to continue making meaningful and efficient contributions to your team. It helps you to work efficiently and with confidence. Ongoing professional development can also help you advance in your career as you can move into new positions where you can lead, coach, manage and mentor others.


Continuing professional development refers to any activity that contributes to your professional development as a nurse or healthcare professional. CPD not only benefits the patients in your care, as they are receiving the best care that they can possibly get, but it also benefits you, as the nurse. CPD means that you can perform your current job to the highest degree and it also contributes greatly towards advancement in your career.

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