Becoming a Nurse Practitioner (NP) in New Zealand

The journey to becoming an NP in New Zealand involves the development of clinical expertise in an area of practice as well as meeting the educational requirements. 

From the Nursing Council:

Nurse practitioners have advanced education, clinical training and the demonstrated competence and legal authority to practise beyond the level of a registered nurse. 

Nurse practitioners work autonomously and in collaborative teams with other health professionals to promote health, prevent disease, and improve access and population health outcomes for a specific patient group or community.

Nurse practitioners manage episodes of care as the lead healthcare provider in partnership with health consumers and their families/whānau.

Nurse practitioners combine advanced nursing knowledge and skills with diagnostic reasoning and therapeutic knowledge to provide patient-centred healthcare services including the diagnosis and management of health consumers with common and complex health conditions.

They provide a wide range of assessment and treatment interventions, ordering and interpreting diagnostic and laboratory tests, prescribing medicines within their area of competence, and admitting and discharging from hospital and other healthcare services/settings.

As clinical leaders they work across healthcare settings and influence health service delivery and the wider profession.

Nurses are registered with the Nursing Council of New Zealand Aotearoa to be credentialed to practice as an NP.  It is important to develop understanding of the requirements found at the Nursing Council website Nursing Council Nurse Practitioner Scope of practice.

Again, from the Nursing Council website:

Nurse Practitioner Qualifications

To receive the title of Nurse Practitioner, a nurse must

  1. be registered with the Nursing Council of New Zealand in the registered nurse scope of practice
  2. complete an approved clinical master’s degree programme (or overseas equivalent) for the nurse practitioner scope of practice. The programme must include relevant theory and a minimum of 300 hours of clinical learning,
  3. have at least four years’ experience in their area of practice
  4. pass an assessment against the nurse practitioner competencies, given by a Council-approved assessor.

If you are currently practicing in New Zealand, there are several approved Master of Nursing programmes who provide the educational preparation outlined in the educational programme standards for nurse practitioner scope of practice document prepared by Nursing Council after consultation. pdf List of Master of Nursing Programmes (Nurse... (0.04MB)

The Master of Nursing programmes have developed courses that prepare nurses to meet the NP competency requirements.  These course requirements include an advanced health assessment course, an advanced pathophysiology course, and a pharmacology for prescribing course as well as the approved NP practicums. 

The other aspects of the clinical master’s programme are negotiated by the student with the educational provider.

There is a Nurse Practitioner Training programme which has secured funding for additional mentorship for those who meet the programme requirements currently at The University of Auckland and Massey University.  This has recently been reviewed and consultation is pending.

If you are considering developing the clinical expertise and pursuing the educational requirements to register as an NP in New Zealand, it may be important to discuss your aspirations with your clinical nurse leader.  While not impossible, it is very difficult to gain enough clinical preparation and mentorship to meet the competency requirements outside a role that is supported to develop into an NP position. 

It is recommended that you are practicing in the area of practice you wish to register as an NP prior to completing your PG studies.  The Ministry of Health has developed information to assist nurses and their employers to understand the legal authority and educational preparation required. This is available here: Ministry of Health  

If you have trained outside of New Zealand, please note the New Zealand requirements for a Clinical Master’s degree with the appropriate course content and mentorship requirements. It is important to work with Nursing Council to understand if your preparation meets the New Zealand requirements. 

Any Nurse Practitioner from outside must meet practice requirements in New Zealand prior to registration as an NP in New Zealand.  This includes meeting the educational requirements as well as supervised practice with an appropriate clinical mentor (an NP or Doctor) to verify competence in practice against the New Zealand NP Competencies. 

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