A professional development (PD) plan is a confidential document nurses create that guides and records the activities they undertake to meet the BCCNP Standards of Practice for their nursing designation, as well as their employer’s expectations. Nurses must develop one each year, as part of meeting their QA requirements.
Each PD plan is different, reflecting the creativity and uniqueness of each nurse’s learning journey and is evidence of their commitment to continuing competence in their nursing practice. A PD plan comes in different forms – electronic, handwritten, or a combination. It can be organized by date, skill, theme, or event, and employ a variety of resources to reflect the various ways the nurse integrates knowledge into their practice.
Some nurses prefer to use their computer to store their information, scan documents, and ‘blog’ their ongoing activities. Others prefer to use a binder to collect evidence, using plastic sheet protectors as envelopes to display certificates, letters, and other items to support their learning evidence. BCCNM has also created a basic template (PDF) for nurses to use.
Creating a professional development plan is one way nurses indicate to the public that they are maintaining their competence to practise and take their professional development obligation seriously. This commitment is an important part of being a self-regulating professional.
Nurses are expected to keep supporting records to document their compliance with BCCNM's annual quality assurance program requirements for at least three years after the end of each calendar year, in accordance with section 155 of BCCNM's bylaws.
These records may be subject to audit by BCCNM under section 161 of the BCCNM bylaws, and the Quality Assurance Committee may require a registrant to submit information to verify their compliance with requirements of BCCNM's quality assurance program.
Nurses are welcome to use and include the PD activities they complete to meet employer requirements in their BCCNP PD plan. These PD activities should be applied to the learning needs the nurse has identified through their self-assessment and peer feedback they receive.
Any and all activities nurses undertake to improve their practice—be it self-directed or employer mandated—“count” as professional development. Nurses who have taken part in Multisource Feedback will use the Professional Development (PD) Plan section of My Professional Plan to create and evaluate professional development goals.
The foundation of a professional development plan is self-assessment and peer feedback: this is how nurses will identify the areas they want to focus on.
Then using SMART goals, plan how they will achieve their learning needs and goals and how they will measure their success.
Setting goals is an important part of professional development. The SMART system is used to help guide goal setting. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Therefore, a SMART goal incorporates all of these criteria to help focus a nurse's PD activities and increase the chances of achieving that goal.
The list below contains suggestions for inclusions but is by no means exhaustive. Nurses are reminded that personal or confidential information about clients or colleagues must have identifying information removed/deleted to maintain their privacy.
Select a minimum of three professional development activities from six categories of options. The options are outlined below. At least one activity must relate to the scope of nurse practitioner practice, e.g., diagnosing and managing disease, prescribing medications.
An NP's professional development plan should contain comprehensive details of their activities including the relevance and impact for their practice. For example, they should record the title, duration and evidence of participation in continuing education or journal titles and their critique.
Examples may include conferences, workshops, clinical updates or rounds that target clinical treatment, including pharmaco-therapeutics or other aspects relevant to your nurse practitioner practice (e.g., ethics).
This may include reading and critiquing professional journals at the nurse practitioner level or participating in a journal club that targets clinical treatment, including prescribing.
Take or audit academic credit course(s) or enrol in an accredited or academic program at the level of a nurse practitioner/advanced practice nursing. The focus should be applicable to your context of practice or the scope of nurse practitioner practice.
Teach an educational seminar, presentation or lecture. Teaching might include providing a lecture or tutoring health professionals, presenting at a professional conference, thesis committee work or preceptoring at the nurse practitioner level. Teaching that is part of role function is not suitable for this option.
Write for publication. For example, write an article in a journal or a chapter in a text that facilitates the integration of evidence-based knowledge into practice.
Conduct research. For example, undertake relevant clinical research activities or participate in a clinical research collaborative project that contributes to the understanding and development of evidence-based nursing knowledge. This might include completing a master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation relevant to your stream of nurse practitioner practice. Recommendations for this option:
Evaluation is a key component of the QA program that runs throughout the year. It weaves throughout the self-assessment, peer feedback and professional development stages as the nurse continually reflects and evaluates where they are at in their QA cycle, and where they are heading. For nurses participating in Multisource Feedback, evaluation of the learning goals they identified in their PD Plan is an important step in the process.
Nurses may find it helpful to document and keep the answers to these questions as part of their QA records. Sometimes nurses are unable to meet their PD goals—this is not necessarily a bad thing. Priorities change, as can workplaces, and personal circumstances.
The continuous cycle of QA—assessment, feedback, PD planning and evaluation—ensures nurses are reflecting on their practice and striving for continuous professional improvement.