Recertification audits

Under section 41 of the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003, the Nursing Council requires 5% of nurses to complete the recertification audit annually. 

If you have been selected for audit, please read this information carefully for guidance on how to successfully meet the audit requirements. 

When you are selected for audit you are required to send evidence that supports your declaration that you have met the continuing competence requirements. This evidence is required by the Council under section 26(2) of the Act.

The Nursing Council has developed a selection of example answers for some of the competencies for the registered nurse scope of practice competence assessment form. These examples (as well as the competencies and indicators which are included at the back of the competence assessment form) can provide you or the nurse you are assessing, with guidance on how to demonstrate 'met' competencies.

Please note these are example answers to the competencies only and should not be used in actual assessments.

If you have any difficulties complying with or understanding the requirements of the audit as detailed below, please contact Council staff:

Email:  audit@nursingcouncil.org.nz

For more information, see the documents in the right hand downloads box on this page.

Providing evidence

To satisfy the audit requirements you must supply the following three types of evidence. 

1. Practice hours: 60 days (or 450 hours) in the past three years

Please supply a letter from your employer, or a certificate of service that clearly shows the actual hours you have worked in the last 1–3 years. The letter should include:

  • your start and end dates of employment in that period (for example, Feb 2010–Feb 2013)
  • a signature or endorsement from your employer or manager 
  • your employer or manager's name, status/role and contact details. 

For a definition of practising, see  About practising certificates

2. Professional development hours: 60 hours in the past three years

Please provide a summary of professional development courses and hours you have completed in the last three years. The summary should include:

  • a signature or endorsement from your employer, manager or nurse educator
  • the name, status/role and contact details of the employer, manager or nurse educator.

You must provide evidence of the hours attended at each course. If you do not have an employer or educator who can confirm your hours, please supply certificates for the actual courses attended.  

The Council expects you to provide a short reflection on each course or an overall statement of your learning, including three key activities you attended within the last three years. This statement must explain what you did, what you learned and how each activity affirmed or influenced your practice. 

Please use the template provided below.

Professional Development Activities Template (Word, 37 KB)

Please note: Professional development on the  Code of Conduct and the  Guidelines: Professional Boundaries needs to be completed by end of July 2015. Nurses are expected to include this information on their professional development record which will be assessed as part of their PDRP or may be requested by the Council if they are selected for the recertification audit.  

For more information on professional development, see  Continuing competence requirements

3. Competence assessments: Two assessments are required

Please provide two competence assessments that have a specific example of your practice to demonstrate how you meet each of the Council’s competencies.  For a sample of some of the competencies see above

A competence assessment is an assessment against all of the Council competencies for a nurse’s scope of practice. The assessment needs to indicate how a nurse meets each competency. A senior nurse or peer assessment for a recertification audit must be completed by a registered nurse with a current practising certificate. Competence assessments completed by other health professionals will not be accepted, see the FAQs below for more information.

The competence assessments can be:

A self-assessment

  • An example for each competency from your everyday practice.
  • It must be signed (verified) by another registered nurse with a current APC.
  • Verification means the nurse signing your self-assessment is declaring the assessment was completed by you. 
  • The nurse must provide their name, status/role, registration number and contact details

and/or

A senior nurse assessment

  • An example for each competency from the nurse’s everyday practice.
  • A senior nurse must be a charge nurse, nurse manager or nurse educator.

and/or

A peer assessment

  • An example for each competency from the nurse’s everyday practice.
  • A peer assessor must be an experienced registered nurse.
  • This nurse either works with you or has observed your practice for the purpose of making an assessment against the competencies.

Submitting your evidence

Please use the assessment forms in the downloads box on the right of this page. You may use other forms if they meet the recertification audit requirements outlined above.   

Your evidence must be no more than three years old.  

Please do not send your complete portfolio to the Council, only the relevant documents.  

Do not send original documents, and please keep a copy of your evidence. The documents you send to the Council will be destroyed at the end of the audit process. 

Please mail your completed checklist and documents to:

Recertification audit
Nursing Council of New Zealand
PO Box 9644
Wellington 6141

Nurses in expanded practice

Nurses often take responsibility for health care activities or roles that could be considered an expanded practice role. Before undertaking an expanded practice role the nurse may complete further education practice with clinical supervision or complete an assessment. Expanded practice may include areas of practice that are new to the nursing realm or previously the responsibility of other health professionals. 

The skills and knowledge required by nurses working in expanded practice roles have been documented as a set of competencies. These competencies are additional to the competencies within the registered nurse scope of practice. A nurse working in an expanded practice role must meet both sets of competencies. 

For a recertification audit, nurses in expanded practice must supply additional evidence that they meet the three additional competencies. This could include evidence of a credentialing process, or documents that demonstrate the competencies (for example, education or clinical training, competence assessment, clinical audit activities, etc.).  

See 'Expanded practice for registered nurses' on the Registered nurse page.

Nurses in management, education, policy and research

Registered nurses who are not practising in direct client care are exempt from the competencies that apply to clinical practice in Domain 2 (management of nursing care) and Domain 3 (interpersonal relationships).

There are specific competencies in these domains for nurses who work in management, education, policy and/or research. Nurses who are assessed against these specific competencies are required to demonstrate how these competencies contribute to their practice.
 
Registered nurses who practise in direct client care as well as management, education, policy and/or research must meet both sets of competencies.
 
If you are a nurse involved in management, education, policy or research, please see the appropriate assessment form for your scope of practice in the downloads box on the right of this page.

Timeframe of audit process

The Nursing Council sends out recertification audit information three months (12 weeks) before your annual practising certificate expires. You have six weeks to get your evidence to the Council.

The Council will then take six weeks to assess your information. Your evidence is sent to an auditor (a nurse trained and skilled at assessment) who determines whether your evidence meets the audit requirements.

Sometimes we need to ask you for more information, which can delay the audit process.

If you have concerns about these timeframes or wish to know how your audit is progressing, please contact  audit@nursingcouncil.org.nz

Audit flowchart (PDF, 38 KB)

Frequently asked questions

Q: Why have I been selected for audit?

A: You have been selected for a recertification audit to ensure you comply with the Nursing Council’s requirements for continuing competence. Five percent of nurses renewing their practising certificates each year are randomly selected to provide evidence of their competence to practise. 

It is the professional responsibility of all practising nurses to maintain their competence to practise. The role of the Nursing Council is to protect the health and safety of the public by setting standards and ensuring that nurses are competent to practise under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003.  

Every time you apply for an annual practising certificate you are asked to declare whether you meet the continuing competence requirements. Please note that your application for a practising certificate could be declined if you supply false or misleading information. The recertification audit is a process the Council uses to ensure nurses are complying with these requirements. 

Q: Can I be exempted from the audit?

A: You may be exempted from the audit if you:

  • are participating in an approved Professional Development and Recognition Programme and are assessed as competent; or
  • have become registered in the past 12 months (for example, new graduates, nurse practitioners and nurses from overseas); or
  • have completed an approved competence assessment programme in the last 12 months; or
  • are undergoing health, professional conduct or competence investigations; or
  • have been investigated for a competence concern in the past 12 months; or
  • have been audited in the last three years; or
  • transitioned to the new Enrolled Nurse Scope of Practice within the last 3 years; or
  • have been issued with a practising certificate with conditions because you previously did not meet the continuing competence requirements; or
  • have resigned from employment in the last 12 months and had PDRP assessment within two years of resignation. 

Q: Can I get an extension of time to complete the audit?

A: Extensions are granted for extenuating circumstances at the discretion of the Nursing Council. You will need to discuss this with the Council staff. Please email  audit@nursingcouncil.org.nz

Q: Do I have to comply with the Council’s request?

A: Yes. Under section 41 of the Act the Council has set a recertification audit for nurses. 

If you do not provide the information required, you may have conditions placed on your scope of practice or be suspended from practice under section 43 of the Act.

Q: What if I can’t supply the information required, or I am unable to meet the continuing competence requirements?

A: If you are having difficulties providing any audit information, please provide a letter outlining your circumstances. 

If you can only supply part of the evidence required, please forward this to the Nursing Council, with an accompanying letter explaining the circumstances. If you apply for a practising certificate but do not supply any evidence, the Registrar may propose to suspend your registration under section 43 of the Act.  

If the evidence you supply does not provide sufficient and appropriate information, Council staff may contact you and give you the opportunity to supply further information. If you are unable to supply this information, or it does not meet the continuing competence requirements, or the audit due date has passed, you may have conditions placed on your practising certificate to complete the audit by supplying evidence of a competence assessment, professional development hours or practice hours. 

If any of this is unclear, please email Council staff at  audit@nursingcouncil.org.nz

Q: What if I am on leave or have had a period of leave during the previous three years?

A: Please note that you do not require a practising certificate if you are not currently practising. If you are on leave and are applying for a practising certificate, you must complete the audit. Any evidence you submit must be no more than three years old. If you do not meet all the practice or professional development hour requirements because of an extended period of leave, please declare this and send the evidence of the hours you have completed. 

Q: What if I am practising overseas?

A: If you are practising overseas, you may choose not to apply for a practising certificate. However, when you return to practise in New Zealand you will be required to complete the audit.

Overseas evidence is accepted. It must be verified by an overseas nurse, whose address and phone number must be supplied. Your practice must be assessed against the competencies for New Zealand nurses.

Please note that if you are practising overseas you are also required to submit a letter of good standing from your overseas regulatory body. For more information, see Returning to practice.

Q: What if I intend to retire or stop practising?

A: Please write to us and inform us of your intentions. If you do not wish to renew your practising certificate, you will not be required to complete the audit requirements. If you reapply for a practising certificate in the future, you will be required to complete the audit at that time. 

Q: What if I don’t agree with the Council’s decision?

A: You may apply for further consideration of the information. You will be offered the opportunity to make a written and/or oral submission to the Council. 

Q: What are the requirements for enrolled nurses?

A: Enrolled nurses have the same requirements to demonstrate continuing competence as registered nurses. 

Q: What can be included in my professional development hours?

A: You are responsible for seeking opportunities to learn and maintain your competence in the interests of patient care. You need to complete professional development in the context of your area of practice. These activities may be within the work environment or within an educational context. Your professional development may be taken as whole days or as hours and can include a variety of learning activities such as degree courses, short courses, seminars, conferences, in-service education, or online learning and Internet-based courses. 

The level of your professional development should be appropriate to your scope of practice and work context. Your 60 hours of professional development in 3 years should include more professional learning than just the mandatory or core training required by your employer Some of your professional development must be relevant to your development as a nurse and to your area of practice. 

Journal reading may be considered a professional development activity if it takes place within a formal framework such as a journal club, a presentation to colleagues or to inform an educational or quality improvement process. Meetings may be considered a professional development activity if they have an educational focus and include appropriate documentation (for example, minutes that clearly identify the education topic). 

You are also required to reflect on your professional development and supply a statement of learning.    

Professional Development Activities Template (Word, 37 KB)

Q: How do I complete a competence assessment?

A: Please refer to the guidelines in the Competence assessment section.

Guidelines for Competence Assessment

Q: How can I complete the audit if I don’t work with another nurse (peer review)?

A: Peer review has been included as an option for nurses who practise in isolation. Nurses are expected to participate in regular peer review activities and may submit evidence of their competence from more than one source (i.e., more than one peer) as one method of assessment.

Peer review is when one or more peers review aspects of a nurse’s practice. It could include a review of documentation, observation of practice or discussion about a practice issue.

The review must provide a full description of the type of activity, the number of hours it took and the other practitioners involved. The assessment must include examples of how you performed and the feedback you were given. This review must be detailed enough to demonstrate that you are competent in your area of practice.

The review must assess each of the Nursing Council’s competencies for your scope of practice. It must be dated and signed by the nurse(s) who carried out the review, who must provide contact details.

The Council's guidelines for competence assessment give further information for nurses working in isolation.

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