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​​​​​A professional development (PD) plan is a confidential document nurses create that guides and records the activities they undertake to meet the BCCNM standards of practice for their nursing designation, as well as ​their employer's expectations. 

Nurses must develop a PD plan each year as part of meeting their QA requirements​. Nurses are expected to set a minimum of two goals annually, and then evaluate the impact of this professional development on their practice​

Each PD plan is different. It reflects the creativity and uniqueness of each nurse's learning journey and their commitment to continuing competence in their nursing practice. A PD plan may be electronic, handwritten, or both. It may 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 or folder to collect evidence and to store certificates, letters, and other items that demonstrate their learning. BCCNM has a basic template (PDF) that nurses may 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 (QA) 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 156 of the BCCNM bylaws, and the QA Committee may require a registrant to submit information to verify their compliance with requirements of BCCNM's QA program.

Employer requirements

Nurses are welcome to use and include the PD activities they complete to meet employer requirements in their BCCNM 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 activities nurses undertake to improve their practice—be it self-directed or employer mandated—are considered as professional development. Nurses who have taken part in multisource feedback can use the PD Plan section of My Professional Plan to create and evaluate professional development goals.

Getting started​​

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.

Creating a professional development plan​​

Nurses should reflect on their self-assessment and peer feedback, and ask themselves:

  • What do I need to​ learn?
  • What do I want to learn?
  • What goals do I have for my professional development?
  • What are my strengths?
  • What areas require improvement?
  • How does my practice reflect the BCCNM standards of practice for my professional designation (RN, RPN, LPN, and NP)?

Then, nurses should set SMART goals to plan how they will achieve their learning needs and how they will measure their success.

SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Nurses should include all these criteria in their PD goals to help focus their PD activities.

What should PD plans include?

SMART goals
  • Specific: What will you do?
  • Measurable: How will you know you've succeeded?
  • Attainable: Can you achieve this?
  • Realistic: Is this appropriate for your practice or career stage?
  • Time bound: When will you achieve this by?
Supporting materials​

This list includes suggestions for items to include in a PDF plan, but it is not an exhaustive list. Nurses must make sure that personal or confidential information about clients or colleagues has identifying information removed/deleted to maintain their privacy.

  • Certificates, diplomas, or degrees
  • In‐services, workshops, or conferences attended
  • Transcripts from courses taken, re-certifications, etc.
  • Information about future events you want to attend
  • Letters from clients and families
  • Letters of reference or commendation
  • Performance evaluations
  • Mentor communication/peer feedback
  • Membership information
  • Minutes from meetings that reflect learning opportunities
  • Electronic resources
  • Notes about books or articles read
  • Participation in relevant focus or research groups
  • Samples of documents that you developed (policies, course outlines, service plan, etc.)
  • Volunteer work


​​​Evaluation is a key component of the QA program that occurs throughout the year. It occurs during 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.

When evaluating the imp​​act of professional development on their practice, nurses should consider:

  • Did I meet my learning goals?
  • How did I meet my learning goals?
  • Was the outcome valuable to me? Why or why not?
  • Who (aside from me) benefited from my learning plan—clients, colleagues?
  • How have I shared or how will I share this learning experience with colleagues?
  • How have I been able to maintain and/or enhance my nursing practice?

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, workplaces, and personal circumstances change and can impact nurses' goals.

Nurses who don't achieve a PD goal can ask thems​​elves:

  • Were my learning goals SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time bound)?
  • Are there other ways that I can meet my learning goals?
  • Do I need to re-assess my learning needs and revise my goals?
  • How will I revise my professional development plan in the coming year?

The continuous cycle of QA (assessment, feedback, PD planning, and evaluation) ensures nurses reflect on their practice and strive for continuous professional improvement. 

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