Academic journal article Australian Health Review

Australian Midwives' Interpretation of the Re-Registration, Recency of Practice Standard

Academic journal article Australian Health Review

Australian Midwives' Interpretation of the Re-Registration, Recency of Practice Standard

Article excerpt


In Australia, the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act (2009)1 led to national registration in a bid to standardise the regulation for healthcare practitioners in Australia.2 The change to national legislation has led to a unified registration renewal process across 14 health boards in all states and territories of Australia. The national scheme has several objectives to keep the public safe by ensuring suitably trained practitioners are safe, competent and maintain competence to practice. TheAustralian Health Practitioner Regulatory Agency (AHPRA) registration standards inclusively demand parallel requirements of continuing professional development (CPD), recency of practice (RoP) and insurance for practice across all professions. Separate national registers for nursing and midwifery were introduced in June 2010. The registration standard is designed to ensure that nurses and midwives 'have recent experience practicing their profession and that their nursing and midwifery skills are current and up to date'.3

This standard requires that in order to re-register, a nurse or midwife must indicate that they have undertaken the equivalent of 3 months full-time practice in the last 5 years to demonstrate RoP in their profession.2 Practice is defined as:

...any role whether remunerated or not, in which the individual uses their skills and knowledge as a nurse or midwife...practice is not restricted to the provision of direct clinical care. It also includes working in a direct non-clinical relationship with clients, working in management, administration, education, research, advisory, regulatory or policy development roles.. 3

These legislative changes have impacted registration for nurses and midwives, because the introduction of separate registers2 has meant that nurses and midwives, for the first time, have been asked to demonstrate competency for registration on each register separately.3

Despite the RoP standard forming part of the contemporary registration requirement, there is little literature examining the efficacy of this approach. Furthermore, requirements vary from country to country. Table 1 identifies variations in the requirements in comparable countries, such as New Zealand, Canada and the UK.4-7

Prior to 2010 the requirements for registration of nurses and midwives in Australia were inconsistent across states and territories, making cross-jurisdictional movement difficult. Historically, nurse registration boards were originally introduced in each state between 1900 and 1926; in each state there was one register for nurses, with midwifery identified as an endorsement or certification.8-10 The introduction of separate registers for nurses and midwives in 2010 means dual registrants must now declare RoP for each register.

This paper presents findingsfrom a study exploring Australian midwives' responses to the re-registration requirements and insight into how the RoP standard has been interpreted by a sample of nursing and midwifery registrants since the change over the period 2010-13.


Recruitment of participants

A purposive sample11 of participants was recruited using a convenience recruitment approach. An advertisement was placed in the Australian College of Midwives News and invitations were distributed at midwifery conferences. Participants from five states (Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania) responded. A sample of 24 female participants aged 25-65 years was recruited into the study. Twenty of these participated in individual interviews and the remaining four took part in a focus group. Participants worked in a range of public and private health services and a variety of clinical, management and education roles. The size and diversity of the sample was sufficient to interrogate the case under consideration. Participants were able to provide their perspective on the introduction of the statutory requirements for national registration as it impacted their decision making about their future registration. …

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