Nurse practitioner

Nurse practitioners are expert nurses who work within a specific area of practice incorporating advanced knowledge and skills. They practise both independently and in collaboration with other health care professionals to promote health, prevent disease and to diagnose, assess and manage people’s health needs. They provide a wide range of assessment and treatment interventions, including differential diagnoses, ordering, conducting and interpreting diagnostic and laboratory tests, and administrating therapies for the management of potential or actual health needs. They work in partnership with individuals, families, whanau and communities across a range of settings. Nurse practitioners prescribe medicines within their specific area of practice. Nurse practitioners also demonstrate leadership as consultants, educators, managers and researchers, and actively participate in professional activities, and in local and national policy development.

Nurse practitioners are authorised prescribers under the Medicines Amendment Act 2013

The Misuse of Drugs Amendment Regulations 2014 allows nurse practitioners to prescribe controlled drugs within their scope of practice for:

  • Up to one month’s supply for Class A and B controlled drugs
  • Up to three months’ supply for Class C controlled drugs.

Guidelines for nurses wishing to apply for registration in the nurse practitioner scope of practice are available from the downloads box in the right hand corner of this page.

Standing Orders

The Medicines (Standing Order) Amendment Regulations 2016, extended the definition of who are permitted to issue standing orders to include optometrists and nurse practitioners. This means from 17 August 2016, nurse practitioners can issue standing orders and must comply with the regulatory requirements for monitoring and audit of the standing orders they issue ( Standing Order Guidelines 2012, Ministry of Health).

Nurse practitioners having the ability to issue standing orders will improve access to medicines and effective treatment and allows nurse practitioners to work to the full extent of their scope.

Nurse Practitioner qualifications

Nurse Practitioner qualifications

To register in the nurse practitioner scope of practice, the following qualifications are required:

  • Registration with the Nursing Council of New Zealand in the registered nurse scope of practice; and
  • A minimum of 4 years experience in a specific area of practice; and
  • The completion of an approved clinical master’s degree programme which includes demonstration of the competencies for advanced practice and prescribing applied within a defined area of practice of the nurse practitioner. The programme must include relevant theory and concurrent practice; or
  • The completion of an equivalent overseas clinically focused master’s degree qualification which meets the requirement specified above; and
  • Passing an assessment by an approved panel against the nurse practitioner competencies.

Nurse Practitioner Competencies

Nurse Practitioner competencies

The Nursing Council’s competencies for nurse practitioners describe the skills, knowledge and activities of nurse practitioners. This document is also downloadable from the downloads box top right.

Continuing competence requirements

Continuing competence requirements

Every 3 years prescribing nurse practitioners will be required to provide evidence that they have maintained competence, when they apply for their practising certificate. This evidence includes:

  • Ongoing peer review of their prescribing practice by an authorised prescriber; and
  • A minimum of 40 hours per year of professional development over a 3 year period; and
  • A minimum of 40 days per year of ongoing nursing practice over a 3 year period within their defined area of practice.

Decision on nurse practitioner scope of practice and further consultation

Following extensive consultation the Nursing Council has confirmed it will make changes to the nurse practitioner scope of practice and education programmes that prepare nurse practitioners to meet future health needs of New Zealanders.  These changes will not come into effect until the Council has completed a further consultation on new education programme standards and competencies for nurse practitioners.

More information can be found here.

Useful external links

Nurse Practitioners New Zealand

Ministry of Health

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