Changes to the prescribed qualifications for the registered nurse scope of practice

24 July 2015

Between July and September 2014 the Nursing Council of New Zealand (the Council) consulted on the qualifications for the registered nurse scope of practice.

This consultation asked for submissions on possible changes to the prescribed qualifications to include a pre-registration master’s degree.

The consultation document was emailed to 260 Council stakeholders and made available on the Council website.

A total of 77 submissions were received with 45 submissions from individuals and 32 submissions from groups including professional nursing organisations, district health boards, tertiary education providers, government organisations and other interested parties. A copy of the list of submitters and collated submissions can be viewed on the publications page under consultation documents.

Analysis of the submissions received showed an even split between submitters in favour of changes and those against changes to the prescribed qualifications. The analysis identified a number of recurring themes. The positive themes included similar programmes offered successfully in other countries for many years, introduction of such programmes would offer an accelerated pathway for graduates in other disciplines to enter nursing and an additional pathway for registration in the registered nurse scope of practice.

The negative themes included concern regarding potential confusion among nurses, other healthcare providers and the public regarding differences between the current bachelor’s degree in nursing and proposed pre-registration master’s programme and  concern regarding qualification creep with the move to a pre-registration master’s degree.  

Some submitters believed the consultation focus on a pre-registration master’s degree was too narrow and asked the Council to consider other graduate or postgraduate qualifications allowing for entry to the registered nurse scope of practice.

The Council in making their decision was guided by the principals contained in section 13 of the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 which include that qualifications must be necessary to protect members of the public, that qualifications may not unnecessarily restrict the registration of persons as a health practitioner and that the qualification may not impose undue costs on health practitioners or the public.

As a result of this feedback and after consideration of all the submission the Council made the decision to approve changes to the prescribed qualifications to allow a graduate nursing qualification (Level 7) or postgraduate nursing qualification (Level 8) that met the Education programme standards for the registered nurse scope of practice to lead to registration as a registered nurse.

The changes to the prescribed qualifications will not replace the current bachelor’s degree in nursing programmes. Rather it provides an alternative pathway for graduates of other degrees to enter nursing through a shortened programme. While a graduate or a postgraduate nursing programme would be shorter, all other requirements regarding programme content, clinical experience, demonstration of competence and fitness to practice would be the same as for the existing bachelor’s degree in nursing. 

The Council has gazetted the changes to the prescribed qualifications and a copy of the New Zealand Gazette Notice is available on the Council website on the publications page under Gazette notices.

 

 

 

 

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