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Time to start work on professional portfolios: as competence-based practising certificates become a reality, registered nurses need to develop their professional portfolios.

IT IS the beginning of another year and time to get started on a professional portfolio. For those of you who already have a gleaming example of your nursing practice ready to go, well done! This is not for you, so you can turn to the next page. This report is for those registered nurses (RNs) who are just about to get started, so in March 2005 they will be ready for their competence-based practising certificates.

The Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act (HPCA) was passed in September 2004 and requires the registering bodies (for nurses that is the Nursing Council) to monitor the competence of health professionals regularly, not just at registration and in a disciplinary investigation, as at present. From March next year, Nursing Council will require RNs to maintain a professional portfolio to demonstrate competence. Audits of RNs' portfolios will not begin immediately but it is good to be prepared.

At present, the Council does not require portfolios from enrolled nurses (ENs), although members of NZNO's Enrolled Nurse Section are lobbying to change that. What the Council will require from these nurses and others, such as registered obstetric nurses, is yet to be decided.

Midwives now have a separate Midwifery Council, which was established in December 2003 and will come into full effect in September this year. The Nursing Council developed guidelines for competence-based practising certificates for midwives in June 1999 and these are available on its website: www.nursingcouncil.org.nz. It is not yet known whether the new Midwifery Council will adopt these guidelines, revise them or establish new guidelines. Consultation with midwives will occur during 2004.

Registered nurses who work in an organisation with a professional development and recognition programme/clinical career pathway (PDRP/CCP) will have that support and guidelines available to help them develop their portfolios. Hopefully they will also have a study leave clause in their agreements that allows time to put portfolios together. Those without a PDRP/CCP may find things a bit more tricky, but it is time to start.

Although most of us have had years of experience writing nursing notes, the thought of formally writing things down can seem a bit intimidating. I remember in the mid '90s asking a colleague: "Do I really have to put in a reference after every single thing I write in this assignment?" I had embarked on my masters degree and was truly daunted. Now, a few years later, I find referencing, fairly easily. However, I, like many other nurses, had chosen to do that study. With the passing of the HPCA we do not have a choice--we have to be involved in formal writing. Nurses do not have to write lengthy assignments for portfolios, but they do have to write enough to demonstrate competence in practice.

Getting started is half the battle. Nurses who feel a bit afraid about it, or feel stuck, are not alone. Research into PDRPs (1) shows fear or that "stuck" feeling is common. If you can just get over that first obstacle, you will be on your way. Get yourself a folder. It could be a ring binder with plastic pockets or a clear file book. Put in four pieces of paper: the first stating your name; head the second "Table of Contents"; the third "Curriculum Vitae" (CV), and the fourth "Professional Development". Now you've started!

The table of contents can be finalised towards the end, once all the sections for the portfolio have been finalised, but it is useful to start listing the different things that may be included. The Nursing Council booklet Guidelines for Competence-Based Practising Certificates (2) gives some direction. It can be purchased from Nursing Council for $10 (ph 04 385 9589), or get it free of charge from the website on: www.nursingcouncil.org.nz under publications. I recommend all workplaces have a copy readily available.

The CV is personal, factual information, including name, address, contact details. Some word processing packages have templates for CVs, or you could ask a friend or colleague if you could see their CV to get some ideas. The NZNO library has some helpful references on the website (www.nzno.org.nz) in the professional section under library, in the "how to ..." guides, or you can phone Linda Stopforth on 04 931 6736.

Nurses need to start compiling evidence of their professional development. The requirement will be ten days (75 hours) of professional development relevant to your practice in the last five years. (2) As portfolios will be required in March 2005, nurses should record information about the professional development they have undertaken from March 2000. Record the title, date, length of time (in hours) and who presented or provided the course, seminar etc. The key content can be listed briefly.

Nurses can start making copies of documents to be included in their portfolio, such as qualifications and certificates. Documents can be certified by another RN, a registered midwife, a Justice of the Peace, a kaumatua or a lawyer. (2) Show the original and the copy to such a person and ask them to sign and date the copy, putting "certified as true copy". It is important to keep originals and a copy of all portfolio contents, just in case it gets lost.

Over the next couple of months Nursing Council will be consulting with nurses about further details, such as scope of practice and what else is required to demonstrate competence. Please look out for this, have your say and encourage your colleagues to do so too. Updates will be on the Nursing Council and NZNO websites. Information will be published in Kai Tiaki Nursing New Zealand and you can use your NZNO staff as a resource.

You can do it--so go for it and get started!

REFERENCES

(1)) Roberts, F. (1999) The people, the programme and the place: Nurses' perceptions of the Lakeland Health Professional Development Programme. Unpublished masters thesis. Wellington: Victoria University.

(2)) Nursing Council. (2001) Guidelines for Competence-Based Practising Certificates. Wellington: Nursing Council.
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Title Annotation:professional focus
Author:Roberts, Faith
Publication:Kai Tiaki: Nursing New Zealand
Date:Feb 1, 2004
Words:1001
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