Nurse practitioner

Nurse practitioners are expert nurses who work within a specific area of practice incorporating advanced knowledge and skills. They practise both independently and in collaboration with other health care professionals to promote health, prevent disease and to diagnose, assess and manage people’s health needs. They provide a wide range of assessment and treatment interventions, including differential diagnoses, ordering, conducting and interpreting diagnostic and laboratory tests, and administrating therapies for the management of potential or actual health needs. They work in partnership with individuals, families, whanau and communities across a range of settings. Nurse practitioners prescribe medicines within their specific area of practice. Nurse practitioners also demonstrate leadership as consultants, educators, managers and researchers, and actively participate in professional activities, and in local and national policy development.

Nurse practitioners are authorised prescribers under the Medicines Amendment Act 2013

The Misuse of Drugs Amendment Regulations 2014 allows nurse practitioners to prescribe controlled drugs within their scope of practice for:

  • Up to one month’s supply for Class A and B controlled drugs
  • Up to three months’ supply for Class C controlled drugs.

(Prior to 1 July 2014 nurse practitioners could prescribe from a set list of drugs, in an emergency, for up to three days).

Updated guidelines for nurses wishing to apply for registration in the nurse practitioner scope of practice are available from the downloads box in the right hand corner of this page.

Nurse Practitioner competencies

The Nursing Council’s competencies for nurse practitioners describe the skills, knowledge and activities of nurse practitioners. This document is also downloadable from the downloads box top right.

Non prescribing Nurse Practitioners registered prior to 1 July 2014

Prior to 1 July 2014, nurse practitioners may have been registered without prescribing. From 1 July 2014, this group of non-prescribing nurse practitioners have a condition in the nurse practitioner scope of practice identifying they are unable to prescribe. The condition reads “must not prescribe as an authorised prescriber (nurse practitioner)”.

Non prescribing nurse practitioners can achieve prescribing competency by either of the following pathways:

  1. Those nurse practitioners with qualifications that include pharmacology and a prescribing practicum are required to completed 100 hours of supervised prescribing practice and a competence assessment by a medical mentor and a nurse practitioner (a change of condition fee is applicable); or
  2. Those nurse practitioners who do not have the appropriate qualification must complete a Nursing Council approved pharmacology paper and a prescribing practicum that includes 100 hours of supervised prescribing practice and a competence assessment by a medical practitioner and a nurse practitioner (a change of condition fee is applicable)orsupply a portfolio that demonstrates they have the equivalent knowledge and skills and complete a panel review (a prescribing panel fee is applicable).

Nurse Practitioner qualifications

To register in the nurse practitioner scope of practice, the following qualifications are required:

  • Registration with the Nursing Council of New Zealand in the registered nurse scope of practice; and
  • A minimum of 4 years experience in a specific area of practice; and
  • The completion of an approved clinical master’s degree programme which includes demonstration of the competencies for advanced practice and prescribing applied within a defined area of practice of the nurse practitioner. The programme must include relevant theory and concurrent practice; or
  • The completion of an equivalent overseas clinically focused master’s degree qualification which meets the requirement specified above; and
  • Passing an assessment by an approved panel against the nurse practitioner competencies.

Continuing competence requirements

Every 3 years prescribing nurse practitioners will be required to provide evidence that they have maintained competence, when they apply for their practising certificate. This evidence includes:

  • Ongoing peer review of their prescribing practice by an authorised prescriber; and
  • A minimum of 40 hours per year of professional development over a 3 year period; and
  • A minimum of 40 days per year of ongoing nursing practice over a 3 year period within their defined area of practice.

Useful external links

Nurse Practitioners New Zealand

Ministry of Health

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