Updates to New Zealand Registration Process from Nursing Council of New Zealand

The Nursing Council of New Zealand has made changes to the ways in which internationally qualified nurse (IQN) applicants are assessed and registered. Internationally qualified nurses make up around 30% of all nurses in the country, making them a significant and valuable element of the nursing field. The NCNZ has proposed a number of modifications to how they assess the competency of IQN applicants in this consultation, including some adjustments to the English Language Standard.

Mentioned below are the proposed changes:

#1. Introducing a test and a practical evaluation

The focus is shifted from evaluating applicants’ nursing qualifications to evaluating their competency to practise nursing in Aotearoa New Zealand. A knowledge exam and a practical evaluation would be used to evaluate this, in an outcome-based evaluation model. After consulting with industry experts, the specifics will be worked out to make sure it’s solid, focused on public safety, and culturally acceptable and appropriate.

#2. Presenting a pre-entry education programme (education completed prior to entering the register)

The main goal of this proposed alteration is to ensure that new registrants are prepared to work safely in Aotearoa New Zealand. More nurses may complete pre-entry education that focuses on Te Tiriti o Waitangi, Kawa Whakaruruhau, and cultural safety, as well as orientation to Aotearoa’s setting and health system. Opportunities for pre-entry practice supervised by a registered nurse as part of pre-entry education may benefit some IQNs, particularly in preparation for the practical exam.

#3. Alterations to Competence Assessment Programmes (CAPs)

CAP programmes provide help to IQNs in their first days of work in a new country, among other things, in a safe and supportive environment. The role of these programmes may evolve in the future; for example, instead of focusing on measuring competence for registration, they may become part of IQNs’ pre-entry supported learning and practice experiences.

#4. Pioneering post-entry situations

Some IQNs may require additional support while they adjust to working in New Zealand. Putting some short-term constraints on their practice can be beneficial. This also recognises that IQNs’ first jobs may be in contexts where there are inadequate resources or registered nursing assistance.

#5. Alternative pathways to registration

Some IQNs are from the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Ireland, and Singapore, which have similar healthcare and nursing regulation systems to Aotearoa. The NCNZ is considering a different approach that eliminates the pre-entry exam and competency assessment but still incorporates pre- and post-entry schooling. In order to influence the Council’s wider work programmes, they will look into how to leverage alternative channels for Pacific educated nurses.

#6. Alterations to English language standard

Existing standard

Presently, applicants must pass the IELTS with a score of 7 in each band, or the OET with a score of 350 in each band.

Number one status to the OET

The rationale for this is that occupational specialised exams, such as the OET, are thought to be more valid, fair, and, in some situations, beneficial to the test taker as English for work evaluations.

Recommending a more suitable writing score

Along with suggesting that the OET be awarded preferred status, decreasing the writing score will establish a more equitable norm that is more relevant to nursing practice. The requisite speaking, listening, and reading band scores will not alter.

Possible acknowledgement of electronic language testing

While the NCNZ has hitherto been hesitant to accept English language assessments that use computer-based methodologies to measure spoken English, there are now online assessments with greater security features that are comparable to paper-based tests. This option is being evaluated.

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