Nursing Council - Supporting student education during the pandemic 

Tēnā koutou,

The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in challenges requiring rapid change in all areas of life in Aotearoa/New Zealand and particularly so in health and education. One area where this change has resulted in the need to be flexible and agile is health professional education generally and particularly nursing education. Nursing education programmes and their clinical practice partners are under extraordinary pressure to minimise the inevitable disruption to student learning during the pandemic. The Nursing Council is working with leaders in education and practice to enable nursing students to continue their programme of study, graduate and register, with minimal disruption. 

The Council acknowledges that there may be further delays to student learning and progression as traditional clinical experience opportunities become less available. All those involved in nursing education recognise this reality and are working to consider and support new clinical learning models, changes in practice, and more flexible approaches to achieving the outcome of a safe and competent new graduate nurse.  

Anticipating the impact on student progression the Council has implemented strategies to mitigate the immediate disruption to student learning. 

State Final examinations will be offered every two months: July, September, November, January and March. This increase in examination offerings will extend the time available to ensure required clinical hours and comprehensive assessment of competence are achieved. This will help relieve the pressure for students, education providers and practice. 

The Council has also deferred some of the scheduled accreditation and monitoring work which enables education providers to focus on the key issues related to student learning and progression. We will recommence the accreditation work later in the year and we will advise you of a new schedule.

The annual report has been updated to ensure essential data is gathered that profiles programmes and enables the reporting of relevant information to identify trends and changes in workforce preparation to inform future planning. 

In collaboration with national nursing leaders and an expert advisory group  we will continue to monitor the impact of the pandemic on nursing education and the nursing workforce generally. Due to this evolving and challenging situation the Council understands that additional regulatory action may be required and will work to minimise possible regulatory barriers at the same time ensuring graduates of nursing programmes are safe and competent to practise. 

The Council has a dedicated Director of Education and Registration services and we encourage you to contact us with any queries you may have regarding our regulatory processes and student learning. Please contact Dr Annette Huntington at e-mail annette@nursingcouncil.org.nz. 

These are difficult and unprecedented times with some unchartered waters still ahead. Please keep in touch with us as together we have the best chance of ensuring a safe and well-prepared nursing workforce for the future.

Ngā mihi
Catherine Byrne
Chief Executive and Registrar