Transforming E-Learning into Participatory CPD for UK Nurses’ Revalidation with the NMC

by | Feb 19, 2024 | Education & Training, Practice Nurse, Revalidation

In the dynamic world of healthcare, Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is not just a requirement but a cornerstone for nurses striving to maintain excellence in patient care. The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) in the UK mandates revalidation every three years to ensure nurses and midwives remain fit to practice, emphasising the importance of CPD in this process. With the advent of technology, e-learning has emerged as a significant tool for CPD, offering flexibility and accessibility. However, understanding the NMC’s definitions of participatory and non-participatory CPD is crucial for maximising its benefits for revalidation purposes.

Understanding Participatory vs. Non-Participatory CPD

The NMC categorises CPD activities into two types: participatory and non-participatory. Participatory learning involves interaction with one or more professionals, facilitating the sharing of knowledge, skills, and experience. This can occur in various settings, including workshops, seminars, and online forums, where active engagement and discussion are encouraged. On the other hand, non-participatory learning is completed alone, such as reading journals or online modules without interactive elements. While both types are valuable, participatory learning is particularly emphasised for its role in enhancing professional growth through collaboration and reflection. The NMC have produced a guidance sheet which can be useful for getting a full understanding of the differences

The Value of E-Learning for Non-Participatory CPD

e-learning and participatory cpd

E-learning serves as a robust platform for non-participatory CPD, offering nurses the flexibility to engage with educational content at their own pace and on their own schedule. This self-directed learning approach enables them to update their knowledge, learn new skills, and stay abreast of the latest developments in healthcare without the constraints of traditional classroom settings. E-learning modules, ranging from online courses to webinars and digital journals, provide a diverse array of resources that nurses can access from anywhere, making it an indispensable tool for lifelong learning.

Transforming E-Learning into Participatory CPD

But it doesn’t have to stop there with e-learning. To meet the NMC’s emphasis on participatory learning, e-learning can be adapted to foster interaction and collaboration, thereby enriching the CPD experience. Here are three ways to achieve this transformation:

1. Facilitated Discussions with Colleagues:

After engaging with an e-learning module, gathering with colleagues to discuss the content and its application to your practice area can turn solitary learning into a participatory activity. This could involve analysing case studies, sharing insights on how the knowledge might improve patient care, or brainstorming ways to implement new procedures within your team. Such discussions encourage reflective practice and collective learning, key aspects of participatory CPD.

2. Collaborative Document Creation:

E-learning can also facilitate participatory CPD through the use of document creation forms that encourage collaboration between nurses and their supervisors. For example, courses like the Health Academy Introduction to Sexual Health in Primary Care & Community Pharmacy includes forms that prompt learners to consider how practices align with local policies in their workplaces. These documents can be shared and discussed with supervisors, fostering a dialogue that not only helps in understanding and directing the local application of general principles but also encourages mentorship and feedback. This method transforms e-learning into an interactive experience, allowing for personalised and contextual learning.

3. Engagement in Supervised Practice:

Practical application of e-learning through supervised practice is another effective strategy. For instance, after completing an online course on immunisation or phlebotomy, participating in a supervised session where you apply these skills under guidance enhances learning outcomes. In fact, this is not only a way to enhance practice but it is a requirement that any practitioner should undergo in order to ensure they are fit to practice the skill competently. Resources like our competency workbooks, available with our free resource page support this process by guiding learners through practical applications and competency assessments, making e-learning participatory and hands-on.

Understanding Your Role in CPD Selection and Recording

The NMC Code of practice requires you to thoroughly consider your scope of practice. To do this effectively you should reflect on your practice to identify any gaps for your further learning so you are equipped with the most up to date knowledge and skills to carry out your role.

1. Choosing CPD Activities:

You have the discretion to choose CPD activities that are most relevant to your practice, enhance your knowledge, and contribute to improving patient care. This selection process is crucial because it enables you to focus on learning that is genuinely beneficial and applicable to your work setting. Whether it’s an e-learning module, a workshop, a professional conference, or reflective practice, your choice should reflect your personal and professional development objectives.

2. Deciding on Participatory or Non-Participatory Learning:

Although the NMC differentiates between participatory and non-participatory CPD activities, it’s up to you to decide which category your chosen activity falls into. When deciding how to classify an activity, consider the nature of the engagement and whether it involves interaction with others.

3. Recording CPD Without Certificates:

While obtaining certificates from CPD activities can serve as tangible evidence of your engagement and learning, it’s crucial to note that having a certificate is not a prerequisite for recording a CPD activity. Whilst the NMC requires you to maintain accurate records of your CPD for your revalidation, if an activity does not provide a certificate, you can—and should—still record it as part of your CPD, provided you can write a reflective account on its impact on your practice and how it has enhanced your professional development.

Best Practices for Recording CPD

image showing nurse recording cpd at laptop

When documenting your CPD activities, ensure you include:

  • The date of the activity
  • A brief description of the activity and its relevance to your practice
  • Whether the activity is participatory or non-participatory
  • Reflections on what you learned and how it applies to your practice

Reflective practice is not just a requirement for revalidation; it’s a valuable tool for personal and professional growth, allowing you to critically assess the impact of your learning activities on your practice.


By carefully selecting CPD activities that resonate with your professional needs and accurately recording them, you contribute to your growth, enhance patient care, and meet the NMC’s revalidation requirements. E-learning, while inherently suited for non-participatory CPD, possesses immense potential to be reimagined as a participatory learning tool. By embracing strategies such as facilitated discussions, supervised practice, and collaborative document creation, nurses can enhance their professional development journey. These approaches not only align with the NMC’s revalidation criteria but also promote a culture of collaborative learning and reflective practice, essential for advancing patient care and professional growth in the nursing profession.

UK nurses are thus encouraged to explore these innovative approaches to e-learning, leveraging it not just as a means of acquiring knowledge, but as a platform for engaging in meaningful, participatory CPD activities that contribute to their professional development and revalidation with the NMC.

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