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Continuing professional development in Canada and the UK: how evidence-based resources can help
  1. Debra Witmer, RN, MHSc1,
  2. Nicky Cullum, RN, PhD2
  1. 1College of Nurses of Ontario, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  2. 2Centre for Evidence Based Nursing, University of York, York, UK

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As our clients demand greater and greater accountability, we as professionals are increasingly being challenged to meet rising expectations. This is translating into an emphasis across professions and borders on the continual improvement of practice by individuals, employers, regulatory bodies, and governments. This editorial sets out to describe the changes to the nursing re-registration process happening in both Canada and the UK, and the increased emphasis on lifelong, self directed learning as the mechanism for ensuring continued competence in practice. In particular, we will describe how resources such as Evidence-Based Nursing and the Cochrane Library can help with the process of continuing professional development (CPD) and registration.

Most nurses undergo a basic training that lasts for 3 or 4 years. This training equips them with basic competencies and prepares them for a 30 or 40 year career in which most of their learning will take place. Historically, payment of an annual fee was the only requirement for maintaining registration as a nurse, but there have long been concerns that this is no safeguard against outdated knowledge and an unthinking approach to practice. Whereas CPD was once viewed as a desirable option, it is now a prerequisite for periodic re-registration.

The Ontario experience

In Canada, each province regulates nursing independently under different legislation, although there is considerable interprovincial communication about issues of concern to all, such as labour mobility and cross provincial registration. In Ontario, responsive legislation in the form of the Ontario-specific Regulated Health Professions' Act (1991) requires that all 23 of the health professions create programmes that “assure the quality of the practice of the profession and promote continuing competence among the members.”1 The College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO), the provincial regulatory body for registered nurses and registered practical nurses, has designed and begun to implement a programme that requires …

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