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Registered nurse prescribing in primary health and specialty teams

Registered nurses prescribing in primary and specialty teams prescribe from a list of medicines  for common and long-term conditions.

Nurses must be a part of a collaborative team so that the nurse can consult a doctor or nurse practitioner if the patient's health concerns are more complex than they can manage.

Guidance for employers and nurse is available in Preparation and Guidance for Employers and RN Prescribers May 2020.

The guideline also provides advice on maintaining safe prescribing practice outlining the registered nurse's prescribing authority and accountabilities, and legal limitations for designated prescribers.


Registered nurses who wish to prescribe in primary health and speciality teams are required to have additional qualifications:

  • A minimum of three years full-time practice in the area they intend to prescribe in with at least one year of the total practice in New Zealand or a similar healthcare context
  • The completion of a Council-approved postgraduate diploma in registered nurse prescribing for long-term and common conditions or equivalent as assessed by the Nursing Council
  • A practicum with an authorised prescriber, which demonstrates knowledge to safely prescribe specified prescription medicines and knowledge of the regulatory framework for prescribing
  • Satisfactory assessment of the competencies for nurse prescribers completed by an authorised prescriber.

The programme outcomes for the postgraduate diploma in registered nurse prescribing for long-term and common conditions and Competencies for nurse prescribers (2016) are embedded in the education programme standards for nurse practitioner master’s programmes. This means the postgraduate diploma may be credited to a nurse practitioner master’s programme. It also ensures a consistent educational foundation for both types of prescribers.

Applying for authorisation to prescribe

Log onto MyNC and select and apply for registered nurse prescribing. You will be prompted to complete an online application, submit documents, make a declaration about your fitness to practise and complete the payment.

You will be prompted to upload the following documents as part of your online application:

  • Curriculum vitae
  • A letter from your service manager supporting your application
  • Evidence of your successful completion of the postgraduate diploma in registered nurse prescribing for long-term and common conditions (for eQuals please email Regquality@nursingcouncil.org.nz)
  • Letter from your prescribing mentor (medical or nurse practitioner) confirming that they will supervise your prescribing and that you are part of a collaborative multidisciplinary team
  • An assessment against the prescribing competencies completed by an authorised prescriber
  • Sample (10 cases) of your prescribing log.

Recertification Audit Requirements

Every year registered nurses (RN) prescribing in primary health and specialty teams are required to provide evidence that they have maintained continuing competence, when they apply for their practising certificate. This evidence includes:

  • Professional Development – A minimum of 20 hours of professional development activities relating to prescribing practice over the past three years
  • Prescribing Practice - A support letter from prescribing supervisor to confirm that the RN prescriber has completed 40 days of prescribing practice every year and maintained prescribing competence.

Please note all recertification evidence needs to be submitted through MyNC. The nurse will receive an email reminder from Council staff six weeks before their recertification evidence is due.

All new RN prescribers will have a condition stating ‘must prescribe under supervision of an authorised prescriber for 12 months’ placed on their scope of practice for the first year of being authorised as an RN prescriber. This condition is removed after completion of their first recertification audit.