How to Write Learning Goals


Published: 07 November 2018

According to the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia's (NMBA) 2016 Guidelines for continuing professional development:
"You will get most benefit from your CPD activities by planning your learning goals and the activities to meet these goals, completing your CPD and then recording reflections on your learning" (NMBA, 2016).
All enrolled nurses, registered nurses and midwives are required to complete CPD, and the identification and consideration of learning goals is a key component of this. From a regulatory, personal or organisational point of view, Learning Goals are invaluable in identifying strengths and competencies, setting your direction and documenting key outcomes desired. Learners can then consider how well they have performed against these goals at the end of a defined period.


Writing Learning Goals in the Ausmed App

The Compliance Checklist tool in the Ausmed App enables learners to ensure they meet the regulatory requirements of their governing body. This will assist them to pass an audit with AHPRA. Learners must:
  1. Add Context of Practice;
  2. Review Competency Standards (reflects the Standards of Practice as outlined by the NMBA);
  3. Write Learning Goals; and
  4. Document required CPD.

As part of an annual plan for your CPD/Learning activities, you should carefully consider and document your Learning Goals.

The Compliance Checklist will help learners to identify and prioritise their learning goals as they are able to identify strengths and development needs based on the practice standards outlined by the NMBA. Learners can then write their learning goals and provide an outline of how they plan to address their identified learning goals with different action strategies.


10 Tips for Writing Your Learning Goals

Here are 10 tips from the Ausmed team on how to write a robust set of goals that will set you up for success in your practice.

1. Be Realistic

Learners should be able to reach their goals. The possibility or probability of success will increase motivation and positivity, and encourage the learner to go the extra mile to achieve their goal.

Goals that are too ambitious can often work against the learner, reducing their confidence.

2. Be Objective

Avoid subjective goals which are vague, potentially opinion-based and not clear enough. For example: My main goal for the year is to be a better nurse. 

Goals that are objective are based in fact, specific, clear and far more likely to be measurable (see Tip 3 below). An objective approach to learning goals will identify and embrace strengths and areas of improvement.

3. Goals Should Be Measurable

This will enable learners to track and understand their progress and competence. Setting measurable goals is particularly important if the learning undertaken is long-term. This will enable the learner to maintain focus and ensure they stay on track.

4. Review Regularly

When setting goals establish how often you will review your progress. To facilitate this, learners can set action items that relate to the goals and review upon completion of action items.

5. Update as Necessary

Learning goals should not be static. They should dynamically shift, adjust and evolve as the learner and the skills landscape develops. For example, if a learner's job role or the skills required to complete a certain role changes, the goals should update to reflect this. If needed, goals can also be added or removed.

6. Ensure Goals are Relevant

According to the NMBA, the CPD and learning that health professionals complete must be relevant to their individual Context of Practice. Goals should reflect this.

7. Discuss with Colleagues

Managers, mentors and peers are invaluable sources of knowledge, motivation, inspiration and guidance. Learners should use all resources at their disposal to both identify their goals, as well as to develop action plans to enable them to achieve these.

8. Be Honest

Identifying learning goals is a great opportunity for learners to set their path for growth within their role and workplace. Honesty is key to ensure CPD and learning contribute to this. However, it is also important that the culture of the workplace is such that learners feel comfortable to admit their shortcomings and weaknesses.

9. Carefully Consider Where You Need to Improve

Where do you lack confidence? While you may be considered to be competent in a task, are you confident that you could complete it to the standard required all of the time? Learners should carefully consider what areas they need to focus their learning.

10. Challenge Yourself

Think beyond the obvious.