Nurse Practitioner

Required qualifications and competencies

Applicants for registration as a nurse practitioner must complete a Nursing Council accredited master’s degree programme - a structured programme of clinically focused taught courses. This master’s degree will enable students to have sufficient theory and clinical learning to meet the required knowledge, skills and attitudes described in the below documents:

Competencies for nurse prescribers August 2016 (PDF, 318 KB)

Competencies for nurse practitioner scope of practice March 2017 (PDF, 244 KB)

New education programme standards and competencies for nurse practitioners were introduced in April 2017 following a comprehensive review of the scope of practice and the preparation of nurse practitioners. The changes are designed to ensure a consistent standard of education and clinical learning across nursing schools and to improve readiness for registration on completion of the master’s degree. Nurse practitioner master’s programmes, which include 300 hours of clinical learning time, have been broadened to require the development of advanced skills in more than one setting. This increases the ability of nurse practitioners to meet diverse and changing health needs.

All accredited master's degree programmes are now required to include the same programme outcomes as the Postgraduate diploma in registered nurse prescribing for patients with long term and common conditions. Registered nurses who complete the postgraduate diploma may credit it towards a nurse practitioner master’s programme. Both qualifications require the completion of a prescribing practicum. This involves a minimum of 150 hours under the supervision and mentorship of a Designated Authorised Prescriber (DAP) - a senior doctor or nurse practitioner who has agreed to support and assess the nurse. Assessment during the prescribing practicum is against the Competencies for nurse prescribers August 2016 (PDF, 318 KB)

The provision of a master’s degree programme for nurse practitioners will be limited to tertiary education providers that provide a Council accredited postgraduate diploma in registered nurse prescribing. 

Assessment for registration as a nurse practitioner

Assessment for registration as a nurse practitioner, following completion of a master’s degree, is made by a panel assessment of competence and the presentation of a portfolio.

There is strong support for the Council continuing to play a role in assessment to mediate any differences between programmes. Education programme standards for the nurse practitioner scope of practice have been strengthened to include a summative assessment at the end of the prescribing practicum.

Transition arrangements

The Council recognises that the new education programme standards will impact on schools of nursing, students currently enrolled in nurse practitioner programmes and nurse practitioners who may wish to expand their practice. Transition to the new education programme standards is expected to take 12 – 24 months.

Until September 2018, registered nurses undertaking nurse practitioner programmes can register with a condition to practise in a specific area of practice. More information can be found here .