uPaged nurse

What Are Mandatory Competencies? Why Do Nurses Need Them?

August 1, 2019

We’re frequently asked about uPaged’s requirement for currency in mandatory competencies. What are they? Why do nurses need them? And how do nurses get them? We answer all your questions about why mandatory competencies are absolutely critical for Australian nurses, and why we won’t settle for less.


So … Just What Are Mandatory Competencies?

Mandatory competencies are core skills or abilities that are acquired through experience and learning. Because they are mandatory, they need to be proven, and this is done through training and oftentimes, supervision.

At uPaged, we are committed to ensuring that our nurses hold the minimum mandatory competencies to work in Australian hospitals.

To onboard with uPaged, our nurses need to produce evidence of their competency in a range of skills that best match our hospitals’ needs.


Responding to what hospitals and agency nurses want

We spoke to dozens of hospitals around Australia, crunched the data, and created a baseline for minimum requirements. These minimum requirements are a combination of annual and 5-yearly competencies.

Defining what these competencies needed to be for uPaged nurses wasn’t easy. While the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) regulates the industry and ensures that nurses meet the mandatory requirements for continuing professional development (CPD) to retain nursing registration every year, they don’t determine exactly what each nurse’s mandatory competencies should be for his or her year level, or specialisation.

To complicate matters, every hospital has its own standards for competencies. Sometimes, wards or departments will have specialist competencies that are additional to the hospital minimum, or in some cases, lesser requirements that they consider the minimum mandatory competencies.

uPaged Takes A Stand

Based on our research from over 500 agency nurses, combined with feedback from Directors of Nursing in major public and private hospitals, and honouring our own commitment to ensure nurses are recognised for their skills and experience, we set a benchmark for uPaged nurses for annual and 5-yearly mandatory competencies. Drum roll please–here they are:


Annual nursing competencies

1. Basic Life Support

2.  Fire & Evacuation

3. Manual Handling

4. Drug Calculation

5. IV Medication Administration

5-yearly nursing competencies

1. Hand Hygiene

2. Infection Control

3. Aseptic Technique

How to Check Your Training Records

If a public or private hospital has employed you in the past 12 months as a casual, part-time or full-time nurse, it’s highly likely that you’ve completed your mandatory competency training in-house. (Hooray!)

If you have, you can simply provide evidence of this training on your uPaged profile, so you don’t need to repeat it. You can typically find certificates or a transcript of this training in the online training or e-learning portal. Importantly, evidence should contain your name, the name of the course, and the date you passed the course. The easiest way to find these is to log in and search for these mandatory competency certificates to avoid having to repeat them.

If you have taken charge of your own mandatory training with one of the online self-paced training options, or an e-Learning portal, you can check there for a copy of your training records.

Never Had To Produce Evidence Of Your Competency?

It’s not unusual for registered nurses who are returning to work after a career break; who have worked long-term outside of the hospital system (for example, in aged care or a GP surgery); those who have worked internationally, or those who usually work through traditional nursing agencies, to slip through the cracks and not have a competency renewed annually.

One of our recent registered nurse candidates summed up her experience:

“I actually felt quite offended when I was asked to produce evidence that I had current Drug Calculations and IV Medication Administration competencies–I’ve been giving meds for 15 years, and no one has asked me before proving that I can do it, nor can I recall ever having my competency checked.”

But as a Director of Nursing explained:

“uPaged has certainly solved a major problem for us in filling casual nursing shifts, but one of its standout features is the ability to immediately see what competencies a nurse I am interested in recruiting, has on their uPaged profile. uPaged gives me the peace of mind that, at the very least, the minimum mandatory competencies have been completed and been verified: otherwise, the nurse would not be on the platform in the first instance. We don’t get that from agency nurses, so that kind of vetting gives me confidence that I’m always employing nurses of a certain quality and standard – and those that value their professional development – and that any risk to our hospital, patients and other nurses is minimised.”

The Regulatory Environment, Professional Indemnity Insurance, Your Nursing Registration And The Law

Mandatory competency training requirements have greater reach than this though. Every year, nurses’ annual registration is supported by a declaration that includes (among other things), statements about whether:

  •  you have met the recency of practice requirements stated in the National Board’s registration standard;

  • that you met the National Board’s continuing professional development (CPD) requirements during the previous registration period, and

  • that you practised in accordance with the requirements of the National Board’s Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII) arrangements.

This registration standard applies to all enrolled nurses, registered nurses and midwives.

Professional Indemnity

According to AHPRA, ‘all health practitioners who undertake any form of practice in their respective profession(s) must have professional indemnity insurance (PII) arrangements that comply with the relevant registration standard, for all aspects of their practice.’ Furthermore ‘Initial registration and annual renewal of registration requires a declaration that the health practitioner will not practice unless they have appropriate PII arrangements.’

The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) reiterates: ‘Under the National Law, nurses and midwives must not practise the profession in which they are registered unless they hold appropriate professional indemnity insurance (PII) arrangements in relation to their practice.’

Nurses and midwives can be covered by their own or third-party PII arrangements. PII arrangements may be provided:

  • through your private or public sector employer,

  • as part of your membership of a professional body, trade union or defence organisation,

  • through a contract of insurance obtained by you directly from an insurer, or through an insurance broker, or

  • through a combination of the above.

PII covers nurses for any negligence caused in carrying out their duties that could lead to a claim. In these situations, PII will assist in paying any legal fees, damages and / or compensation.

The good news for uPaged nurses is that your PII is covered by the hospital that employs you for that shift, but of course, you must have current mandatory competencies in place!

For example, if you were to hurt your back while mobilising a patient, and it was uncovered during the incident investigation that you had not participated in any manual handling training for 2 years, you may not be covered by the hospital’s insurance policy. What this means for you as a nurse is that you may not be able to work from the injury, you may not get compensated for loss of income if you need time off work, any treatment that you require for your injury, and if the patient was injured in any way, for any additional and subsequent claims from legal fees to legal representation. The list of potential issues goes on!

Why renew annually?

Mandatory training is renewed annually to refresh your skills in performing the tasks that each hospital recognises as posing the greatest risk to their nurses and their patients. Training is updated regularly by hospitals to keep up the rapid pace of emerging evidence of best practice, and annual training is considered the gold standard.

The worst-case scenario without annual renewal of your skills? Your registration (and your livelihood) could be jeopardised along with the safety of a patient.

CPD and beyond

 There is a bonus to completing mandatory competencies every year: any new mandatory training not previously undertaken, contributes to your 20 hours per annum of CPD that all nurses must achieve for their annual registration.

Where To Complete Mandatory Competency Training And How Much Does It Cost?

uPaged is committed to providing value – to the hospitals that recruit great nurses from the platform, and the nurses that serve our hospitals. To that end, we’ve sourced some options that offer reduced rates to complete your mandatory competency training. Once you are established on the uPaged platform, booking shifts and returning to a hospital regularly, you may find opportunities to participate in the mandatory training available in that hospital, so you don’t have to do it in your own time or cost, ensuring your competencies remain current with an active profile on uPaged.


The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) is Australia’s largest national union and professional nursing and midwifery organisation and provides training in all the competencies that uPaged nurses require through its continuing professional education (CPE) site. If you are an NSWNMA or ANMF member, courses can cost as little as $7.70 ($30 for non-members). For QNMU members, all of these courses are free.


My Health Learning (HETI) is the NSW Health eLearning system for NSW Health staff. If you are employed by NSW Health, all you need is your payroll number and password to log in. All courses are free, some with face-to-face training, and you’ll be able to find your evidence of training in your education history.  


AUSMED provides some mandatory training courses including Hand Hygiene, Infection Control, Aseptic Technique and Medication Safety. They also have a really nice FREE Continuing Professional Development (CPD) tracker in which you can document your annual CPD (not to be confused with mandatory training) and a broad range of online CPD activities available with their online subscription which costs $30 per month.

Contact uPaged to find out about our discounted AusMed memberships.

uPaged Have The Final Say

While completing mandatory competencies might seem a little tedious, the bottom line is that it is mandatory – not just to join uPaged, but to protect yourself, your career and your patients.

uPaged nurses are leading the charge as the most competent and qualified of casual nurses. As nurses, we’re proud of our skills and experience, and the uPaged platform enables nurses to showcase those skills and experience. We wouldn’t let our patients settle for less, and neither will we at uPaged.

Log in to your uPaged profile to add your mandatory training.


Register here

uPaged Icon