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How does pay affect professional development?

 Gill Coverdale 8 Aug 2017

I completed my nurse training at the beginning of the 1980s in a hospital school of nursing and at the end of three years took my state final exams to become a registered general nurse (RGN).

I only ever remember going to mandated study sessions for many years before deciding I wanted to learn how to teach health education. There was an opportunity for some of us to do the freely available English National Board (ENB) courses that provided academic credit, but I never seemed to be in the right place at the right time. So, I sought out and paid for my teaching qualifications, using my own time to study in. It wasn’t until I was in my second year of a part-time degree that I was given some time to study. Fortunately my degree was free, as was my Masters, but that was as an academic and not a practitioner.

Nurses and midwives are very used to paying for their studies both in terms of time and money. Doctors never need to think about this as they have a training budget throughout their career. Nurses have to be very careful in their choice of CPD based on time and money. For many this money is getting tighter and tighter and tighter. We already know that they are suffering a 14% loss in real terms since 2010 and sadly we are hearing of nurses having to use food banks. When faced with the need to eat against self-actualisation (several levels up Maslow’s hierarchy) there is no competition. However, what do these practitioners do in order to maintain their registration status? Revalidation requires CPD that goes beyond mandatory and also demands 20 hours of it to be participatory. It is therefore more vital than ever that we, the RCN, can support practitioners to be able to access CPD freely and also support creative ways for participatory learning to take place.

In our revalidation webpages we have guidance on how social media can support participatory CPD and many branch meetings across the country support CPD events. Members in the devolved countries have access to a range of free CPD, which is a superb resource.

Poor pay and pay rises that are so low they fall below inflation doesn’t just result in monetary loss, but in devaluing the profession and making individual practitioners make choices that put theirs and their families basic needs first. Paying for professional development just doesn’t come into the equation, but then they can’t revalidate and they lose their job. This is a dreadful vicious circle; practitioners leaving or being forced to leave a career they loved; the impact on the health service is profound. Pay does affect professional development in a major way, no doubt at all.

Gill Coverdale

Gill Coverdale

RCN Professional Lead for Education

RCN Professional Learning and Development Facilitator (Yorkshire & Humber)

Gill leads on work for the RCN's Advanced Nurse Practitioner Forum and is passionate about education in nursing. Away from her work, she is an avid traveller and has been all around the world.