Approved professional development and recognition programmes (PDRPs)

In 2004, the Nursing Council began approving PDRPs as recertification programmes under section 41 of the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003. The intention was to allow nurses who were already demonstrating continuing competence through PDRPs to be exempt from the recertification audit.

PDRPs are developed by employers and professional organisations to recognise and support individual nurses. Their assessment processes are based on the submission of a practice portfolio. 

PDRP requirements are usually different from the requirements of the recertification audit. This is because these programmes usually look at more than simply competence to practice. They may seek to support individual nurses to develop their practice and also to recognise additional contributions made by nurses to the workplace. The assessment tools used by PDRPs may also be different, as the nurse usually supplies more evidence in a portfolio than is required for audit.

The criteria for advancement through these programmes are determined by the organisation and not by the Nursing Council. Council approval means that the programme has met the Nursing Council standards for PDRPs and the Council is satisfied that nurses assessed by the programme meet the Council's continuing competence requirements (as well as other organisational requirements).

For more information, see the documents in the right hand downloads box on this page.

Differences between recertification audit and PDRPs

Recertification audit

Professional development and recognition programmes (PDRPs)


To ensure that nurses meet the continuing competence requirements

Designed to also develop and recognise the expertise of nurses in clinical practice

Legal basis

Set by the Nursing Council under section 41 of the HPCS Act. Evidence must be completed before a practising certificate is issued

May be voluntary or compulsory, depending on the organisation and employment agreement

Developed by

The Nursing Council after extensive consultation with nurses and the health sector

The organisation in consultation with its employees/members

Evidence requirements

Evidence is limited to practice hours, professional development hours and two assessments of competence

Additional evidence may be required – this is determined by the organisation


The Nursing Council provides information and assessment tools only

Provides information and tools/workbooks. Education and support are provided by the programme coordinator, educators/assessors and other senior nurses


Completed by auditors and assessed as met/not met

Completed by assessors who give individual feedback on practice/evidence


There is no link to remuneration

Some levels of achievement may be linked to remuneration

Recognition of skill level

Levels are not included in the Council’s requirements

Levels of increasing expertise may be demonstrated and recognised

Timeframe for completion

Nurses selected for audit have 6 weeks to send their evidence to Council

Participants usually have several months or longer to complete a portfolio


Approximately 1000 nurses complete the recertification audit every year

At 31 December 2010, 12,881 practising nurses were participating in PDRPs and so were exempt from audit (source: Council database)

The Council supports these programmes to ensure the continuing competence of individual nurses. It has developed standards for approving programmes.

Approved professional development and recognition programmes 3 November 2016 (PDF, 141 KB)