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Who would have thought that applying for revalidation with the NMC could be such a uniquely rewarding and affecting experience?  I certainly didn’t.  I thought it would be a chore.  In fact, I wasn’t even sure that I wanted to bother.  I’d heard about lots of older nurses choosing to ‘lapse’ rather than revalidate, although of course I don’t know the reasons for their decisions.  Maybe they thought it would be too onerous, too time-consuming, too threatening even.  Or maybe some of them had had enough of the pressurised life that today’s clinical nursing is and the thought of revalidation requirements couldn’t compete with retirement or getting a different job?

I first registered as a Nurse in 1976.  This November will mark 42 years continuously on the Nursing register, and if I want to stay on it I need to revalidate with the NMC, and I must admit – some of the above thoughts passed through my mind too.

Since revalidation started, I’ve been keeping a note of information I would need, but I haven’t been completely convinced that I would do it.  I read the NMC’s guidance (over and over), and in the end I thought I would fill in the documentation and then make a decision whether to revalidate or lapse.  Documenting relevant practice hours, professional development and feedback was straightforward.  I had made notes of several reflections on events over time, and it was just a case of tidying these and transferring them onto the ‘reflective logs’.

Almost immediately I was struck by how much additional reflection I did as I wrote them up onto the formal documentation.  Filling in the paperwork was so much more than that simple transfer of information; it became a major reflective activity in itself.  Even though I had collected the instances and drafted the logs previously, it wasn’t really until I came to write them up more formally that I really reflected deeply on all of the issues collectively as well as seperately.  So much so that I chose the revalidation process itself as one of my reflective events.

It was interesting to see the issues that I had chosen to use.  They were very similar – communication, working with others, education, influencing others – all deeply significant to me as the main areas of my professional practice as a nurse.  Looking back at my previous notes gave me another opportunity to reflect, often bringing other useful points to mind that had arisen much later on in the validation period.  I saw how distance and re-reflection can bring a deeper consideration of issues, often with more perspective than immediately after an event.  In addition to that, the opportunity to reflect again in discussion with someone else meant that my ‘confirmer’ and I had a great conversation about how some of my reflections resonated with her and helped her reflect too, so we were both learning something.

Having been through the process once I shall be much more aware of events that could be part of the next cycle.  That will mean I am more organised about noting significant learning points from my practice and keeping a good contemporaneous record so that when revalidation comes around again I will be less anxious.  One of the reasons I wasn’t sure that I would revalidate this time was because I’m no longer traditionally employed and I thought that would be a disadvantage – it’s absolutely not.  In fact, one of the most satisfying parts of revalidation is the way the process has reminded and reassured me that I am still operating as a professional Registered Nurse in my particular field and context and that my registration is a crucial part of that.

That deep reflection and aggregation of different reflections has been an affecting experience, and one that I hope others will go through.  I’d like to suggest that the NMC finds ways of sharing reflections from revalidation for others to learn from.  For me, this revalidation has been about effective practice, safe practice, prioritising people and promoting professionalism through my own actions and my interactions with others.  It has been so much more than a paper ‘exercise’.  It has been a revalidation, in every sense of the word.