Educating and preparing competent nurses

The Nursing Council is responsible to the public of New Zealand under the Health Practitioner Competence Assurance Act 2003 for the registration of enrolled nurses, registered nurses and nurse practitioners. This is an important role and includes setting standards for nursing education and nursing education providers. The Council prescribes the qualifications and the education standards for nursing programmes in each scope of nursing practice, to ensure that graduates of these programmes are well prepared and competent to meet the health care needs of New Zealanders. The Council’s primary concern is public safety.

In addition to setting the standards for nursing education providers that offer nursing programmes, the Council accredits and monitors these programmes. It ensures that nurse education providers are kept informed about legislative requirements regarding competence and current Council policies to protect public safety. The Council oversees educational and clinical issues and works closely with both nursing education providers and government quality assurance agencies such as the Committee on University Academic Programmes and the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA).

The Council has a Memorandum of Understanding with NZQA that enables the Council to use for its purposes information obtained through NZQA approval, accreditation, monitoring, and external evaluation and review processes. To help monitor the ongoing quality of nursing education programmes in New Zealand, the Council also shares with NZQA the information it gains through its accreditation and/or monitoring visits.

Nursing programmes approved by the Council include Enrolled Nurse, Registered Nurse, Nurse Practitioner, Competence Assessment Programmes (for New Zealand nurses returning to practice and internationally qualified nurses)  and Nurse Entry to Practice (under contract with Health Workforce New Zealand). 

Other Council initiatives in education include:

  • working with individual nurses who wish to change the conditions on their scope of practice
  • ensuring that undergraduate programmes meet criteria such as the clinical hours requirement and programme length for the nurses undertaking these programmes
  • providing information and guidance on a range of issues related to nursing education.