Registered nurse

NZRN emblem

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, healthcare 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, whanau 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.

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: 

  1. a bachelor's degree in nursing (or an equivalent qualification) approved by the Nursing Council of New Zealand; and 
  2. a pass in an assessment of Nursing Council Competencies for Registered Nurses by an approved provider; and 
  3. a pass in an examination for Registered Nurses. 

See more here

Registered nurses from outside New Zealand

To become registered in New Zealand, registered nurses from outside New Zealand must:

  1. be currently registered with an overseas regulatory authority; and 
  2. have successfully completed a nursing programme that is, in the Nursing Council's opinion, equivalent to a 3-year bachelor degree programme in nursing and is at level 7 on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework; and 
  3. have 2 years' post-registration nursing practice as a registered nurse of at least 2,500 hours within the 5 years immediately preceding the date of the application; and 
  4. if the Nursing Council requires, have successfully completed a Nursing Council-approved competence assessment programme.

See more here

Expanded practice for registered nurses

In response to health consumer needs and the continual development of new health services, nurses often take responsibility for health care activities or roles outside their scope of practice. 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.

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