Enrolled nurse

Enrolled nurses practise under the direction and delegation of a registered nurse or nurse practitioner to deliver nursing care and health education across the life span to health consumers in community, residential or hospital settings.

Enrolled nurses contribute to nursing assessments, care planning, implementation and evaluation of care for health consumers and/or families/whanau.The registered nurse maintains overall responsibility for the plan of care. 

Enrolled nurses assist health consumers with the activities of daily living, observe changes in health consumers’ conditions and report these to the registered nurse, administer medicines and undertake other nursing care responsibilities appropriate to their assessed competence.

In acute settings, enrolled nurses must work in a team with a registered nurse who is responsible for directing and delegating nursing interventions.

In some settings, enrolled nurses may coordinate a team of health care assistants under the direction and delegation of a registered nurse.

In some settings, enrolled nurses may work under the direction and delegation of a registered health practitioner*. In these situations, the enrolled nurse must have registered nurse supervision and must not assume overall responsibility for nursing assessment or care planning.

Enrolled nurses are accountable for their nursing actions and practise competently in accordance with legislation, to their level of knowledge and experience. They work in partnership with health consumers, families/whanau and multidisciplinary teams. 

The Nursing Council's  Competencies for Enrolled Nurses describe the skills, knowledge and activities of enrolled nurses. 

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

*A health practitioner is a person who is registered under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 – for example, a midwife, medical practitioner, or occupational therapist. 


Enrolled nurses graduating in New Zealand

Enrolled nurses who qualify in New Zealand must:

  1. successfully complete an 18-month programme in enrolled nursing at level 5 on the National Qualifications Framework and accredited by the Nursing Council; and
  2. pass an assessment by an approved provider of the Nursing Council's competencies for enrolled nurses; and
  3. pass an examination for enrolled nurses. 

See more here

Nurses from outside New Zealand

To practise in New Zealand, nurses from outside New Zealand must:

  1. be registered with an overseas regulatory authority; and
  2. have an international qualification that is equivalent to a qualification prescribed by the Nursing Council of New Zealand. 

Overseas applicants may also be required to:

  • pass an assessment of the Nursing Council competencies for enrolled nurses by an approved provider; and/or
  • successfully complete a programme approved by the Nursing Council for the purpose of assessing competencies for enrolled nurses. 

See more here

Transition to new scope of practice

The scope of practice for enrolled nurses and nurse assistants changed on 31 May 2010. The new scope of practice enables enrolled nurses to make a broader contribution to health services and give greater support to registered nurses.

Completing the transition

The Nursing Council set the transition period to 1 July 2011. However, nurses can complete the transition to the new scope of practice at any time.

Enrolled nurses (except New Zealand-educated nurses previously titled nurse assistants) who do not complete the transition will have the following condition included in their scope of practice: 

  • "may only work with health consumers with stable and predictable health outcomes". 

This is the limitation in the previous enrolled nurse scope of practice that is not included in the new scope of practice. This condition should not make any difference to their present employment but may restrict them from taking on additional responsibilities that are within the new scope of practice.  

For continuing competence purposes, an enrolled nurse with this condition will need to be assessed against the competencies for nurses in the enrolled nurse scope of practice but will not be expected to meet the seven new competencies (2.2, 2.3, 2.6, 3.2, 3.3, 4.2 and 4.3). 

This condition can be removed at any time subject to a satisfactory competence assessment for enrolled nurses by a Council-approved assessor against all 18 competencies (this includes the new competencies).  

Enrolled nurses returning to practice

Enrolled nurses who have been out of practice for 5 years or more will have to complete a competence assessment programme. The Council has a list of approved assessors.

For more information, see the  Competence assessment section.

Enrolled nurses who were previously New Zealand-educated nurse assistants

Enrolled nurses who were previously New Zealand-educated nurse assistants are required to complete an education programme at a School of Nursing.

These nurses will continue to have a condition specifying their area of practice included in their scope of practice until they complete further education. They will not be able to take on increased responsibilities in these settings until they have completed further education. 

For continuing competence purposes these enrolled nurses will not be expected to meet the seven new competencies until they have completed further education. For more information contact the Education Department at the Nursing Council of New Zealand.

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