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Competency Assessment Programme (CAP) for New Zealand Registered Nurses



Five-eight weeks, full-time

Face-to-face and online learning, 10 days in theoretical skill-based study, plus a minimum of 120 hours in clinical practice at a clinical provider arranged by Otago Polytechnic predominantly in Dunedin or the Otago region

May, August and October 2021
Until two weeks before start date
  • Location
    Study breaks
  • Dunedin
    1 January 2021
  • Dunedin
    15 October 2021
  • Dunedin
    5 March 2021
  • Dunedin
    21 May 2021
  • Dunedin
    6 August 2021

Certificate in Professional Practice for Registered Nurses

Are you a New Zealand registered nurse who requires a Competency Assessment Programme to obtain a current Annual Practising Certificate?

Gain the most up-to-date skills and knowledge required to be part of a healthcare team in New Zealand during this theoretical and applied programme. Successful completion of a Competency Assessment Programme enables you to demonstrate your ability to meet the Nursing Council of New Zealand Competencies for the registered nurse (2007). The theory courses within this programme may also be used for professional development purposes and you may enrol in one or both of these. Successful completion enables the nurse to demonstrate their ability to meet the Nursing Council of New Zealand competencies as a Registered Nurse scope of practice.

Entry requirements
  • All New Zealand registered nurses who meet the requirements of the Nursing Council of New Zealand (NCNZ) will be accepted into this programme. However, acceptance is dependent on the availability of places in the requested intake.
  • You must provide a curriculum vitae detailing your professional nursing experience as this will help us to negotiate an appropriate clinical placement for you.
  • You must consent to police vetting (upon acceptance into the programme, the paperwork for this will be sent to you).
  • You must provide a verification letter from Nursing Council of New Zealand of your registration.
  • You must provide your immunity status - please see this document for further details.
  • You must be computer literate and preferably have access to a laptop. 
  • If English is not your first language, you must provide:

If you need to improve your English Language skills, we offer a wide range of English programmes.

For enquiries about requirements for obtaining an Annual Practising Certificate, please contact the Nursing Council of New Zealand (Te Kaunihera Tapuhi o Aotearoa). 

Telephone +64 4 385 9589
Fax +64 4 801 8502

Postal Address

PO Box 9644, Wellington,
6141, New Zealand

Health and immunisation status

You must be physically and psychologically able to engage in diverse clinical nursing practice in New Zealand, including acute hospital, community and mental health settings during this programme.

Covid-19 vaccination information

At present, in light of the current Covid-19 pandemic, it's highly recommended that you are vaccinated against Covid-19 if you want to apply for this programme. 

All health sector organisations engaging health care workers have obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 to take all reasonable steps to eliminate, or otherwise control, the risk of Covid-19 transmission in the workplace. 

While the New Zealand Government has not currently mandated the vaccine for frontline health care workers, there is no guarantee that this will stay like this. Many of the health care providers we work with are requiring their staff, including any students on placement, to be vaccinated and to provide proof of vaccination.   

As more providers follow suit, if you are unvaccinated or if you choose not to disclose whether or not you are vaccinated, or to provide evidence if asked, this will have an impact on healthcare placements that are allocated to you as part of your undergraduate health programme and may have an impact on you being able to successfully complete the programme.

Risks and immunisation status

Once you have been accepted into the programme, you will be notified that you must produce current evidence of immunisation status. You are encouraged to be immunised against Hepatitis B. Not having this immunisation will impact on access to some clinical placements and thus progression in the course may be affected.

Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) clearance is a requirement of a number of clinical placement providers. You may be tested for MRSA during your study. A positive result for MRSA may delay your progression in the programme as you will be unable to attend your clinical placement until you have clearance.

Occasionally, clinical providers request additional information on health status. During your clinical placements, you will be exposed to risks commonly associated with the health services. These are broad and include personal injury such as needle-stick, through to potential harms to clients.

Completing your application

You can enter information and upload documents directly into the application form. You may wish to prepare some of the required documentation beforehand.

To begin your application, click the Apply button at the top of this page.

You will need to provide:

  1. Proof of registration or expired practising certificate from the Nursing Council of New Zealand
  2. A written statement about your skills and experience (cover letter)
  3. Submit a curriculum vitae
  4. A health declaration
  5. Evidence of your immunisation status
  6. Police vetting and declaration of any criminal convictions. (Applicants who have lived in countries other than New Zealand need to provide a Police Clearance from each country.)
  7. Contact details for two referees - (one employer and one senior work colleague.)
  8. Certified copies of proof of identity

You will also need to attend an interview as part of the application process. We will contact you to arrange this.

Selection procedure

There is a maximum number of students accepted per intake. Once each intake has been filled, qualified applicants will be placed on a waitlist and notified of their status. 

You will study

You will need to demonstrate the ability to meet Competencies for registered nurses (Nursing Council of New Zealand, 2007) at the completion of this programme to be eligible for an Annual Practising Certificate.


Theory: BN721001: Contemporary Nursing Practice in New Zealand (10 Credits) (Level 7)

The aim of this course is to enable learners to meet selected registered nurse competencies through updating their health assessment and fundamental nursing skills. 

Clinical: BN722001: Professional Assessment: Clinical Practicum (30 Credits) (Level 7) 

This clinical course commences immediately after the two theory courses. Through work-based learning, orientate yourself to nursing practice in New Zealand and demonstrate your ability to meet the Nursing Council Registered Nurses Competencies. Successful completion of this course, as well as the theory courses, will mean you are able to apply for registration with the Nursing Council of New Zealand. If you do not achieve the competencies by the end of the clinical course, you may apply to re-enrol. This course involves at least 120 hours of full-time rostered duties at an approved clinical provider.

Otago Polytechnic has clinical placements around New Zealand and you may be placed in a clinical facility outside Dunedin. Candidate preferences will be taken into account by the Programme Leader.

Further study options

Advance your skills and increase your career prospects with postgraduate Nursing studies in New Zealand.

Your workload

This programme includes ten days of theory followed by 120 hours (three weeks) in clinical practice. Five weeks is the minimum duration, eight weeks the maximum, for successful completion of the theory and clinical courses. The Nursing Council allows one re-enrolment for the clinical course if you are unsuccessful. Candidates will need to anticipate studying in evenings and weekends to be successful in the theoretical component.

Additional costs

You are responsible for clinical costs such as transport and accommodation. 


While every effort is made to ensure that this sheet is accurate, Otago Polytechnic reserves the right to amend, alter or withdraw any of the contained information. The fees shown in this document are indicative ONLY. Both domestic and international fees are subject to change and are dependent on the development and implementation of Government policies. Please note that additional fees may from time to time be required for external examination, NZQA fees and/or additional material fees.

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