The Council has amended the registered nurse scope of practice to indicate that some registered nurses can prescribe prescription medicines. It has also added education and training requirements for registered nurses prescribing in primary health and specialty teams as additional prescribed qualifications for registered nurses.
When registered nurses apply to the Council and meet the requirements to prescribe for the first time, a condition/authorisation will be placed in their scope of practice, on their practising certificates and in the public register on the Council’s website to indicate they may prescribe within primary health and specialty teams.
Registered Nurse Scope of Practice
Registered nurses utilise nursing knowledge and complex nursing judgment to assess health needs and provide care, and to advise and support people to manage their health. They practise independently and in collaboration with other health professionals, perform general nursing functions, and delegate to and direct enrolled nurses, health care assistants and others. They provide comprehensive assessments to develop, implement, and evaluate an integrated plan of health care, and provide interventions that require substantial scientific and professional knowledge, skills and clinical decision making. This occurs in a range of settings in partnership with individuals, families, whānau and communities.
Registered nurses may practise in a variety of clinical contexts depending on their educational preparation and practice experience. Registered nurses may also use this expertise to manage, teach, evaluate and research nursing practice. Registered nurses are accountable for ensuring all health services they provide are consistent with their education and assessed competence, meet legislative requirements and are supported by appropriate standards.
There will be conditions placed in the scope of practice of some registered nurses according to their qualifications or experience limiting them to a specific area of practice. Some nurses who have completed the required additional experience, education and training will be authorised by the Council to prescribe some medicines within their competence and area of practice.
The Nursing Council's Competencies for Registered Nurses describe the skills and activities of registered nurses.
For more information, see the documents in the right hand downloads box on this page.
New Zealand nursing graduates
To become a registered nurse, New Zealand nursing graduates require:
a. A bachelor’s degree in nursing approved by the Nursing Council of New Zealand; or
b. a graduate nursing qualification at Level 7 on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework approved by the
Nursing Council of New Zealand; or
c. a postgraduate nursing qualification at Level 8 on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework approved by
the Nursing Council of New Zealand; and
d. a pass in an assessment of Nursing Council Competencies for Registered Nurses by an approved provider;
e. a pass in an Examination for Registered Nurses set by the Nursing Council of New Zealand.
Registered nurses from overseas
To become registered in New Zealand, registered nurses from outside New Zealand must:
a. Current registration with an overseas regulatory authority; and
b. successful completion of a nursing programme that is, in the Nursing Council’s opinion, equivalent to or as
satisfactory as a bachelor’s degree programme in nursing at Level 7 on the New Zealand Qualifications
c. successful completion of a graduate pre-registration nursing programme that is, in the Nursing Council’s
opinion, equivalent to or as satisfactory as an approved New Zealand graduate nursing programme at Level 7
on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework that leads to registration in the registered nurse scope of
d. successful completion of a postgraduate pre-registration nursing programme that is, in the Nursing Council’s
opinion, equivalent to or as satisfactory as an approved New Zealand postgraduate nursing programme at
Level 8 on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework that leads to registration in the registered nurse scope
of practice; and
e. two years’ post-registration nursing practice as a registered nurse of at least 2,500 hours within the five
years immediately preceding the date of the application; and
f. at the direction of the Nursing Council, successful completion of a Nursing Council approved competence
Expanded practice for registered nurses
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. Before expanding practice, the nurse and the employer should together consider a number of issues, including:
- identifying the legislation and standards that support the expansion
- gathering evidence that health outcomes will be improved
- developing organisational policies to support the changes
- identifying what educational preparation, clinical supervision and assessment the nurse will require.
A flow chart showing the decision-making process for expanding the scope of nursing practice is included in the downloads box on the right of this page.
Guidelines for an expanded practice role are also available in the downloads box on the right of this page.