Competency Assessment Programme (CAP) for New Zealand Registered Nurses



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
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 verification letter from Nursing Council of New Zealand of your registration
    • provide a Criminal Conviction History Report 
    • give a conviction declaration and consent to police vetting (upon acceptance into the programme, the paperwork for this will be sent to you)
    • provide a health declaration and your immunity status - please see this document for further details (and more info below)
    • provide a CV detailing your professional nursing experience as this will help us to negotiate an appropriate clinical placement for you
    • give us two referee reports, one from your most recent employer 
    • provide a cover letter summarising your reasons for wanting to study this programme and any skills and experience.
  • 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

If you want to apply for this programme, we’ll need to see evidence of your Covid-19 vaccinations (including types and dates). You need to have had three doses. We’re legally obliged to collect this additional information from you as this programme is covered by the Covid-19 Public Health Response (Vaccination) Order 2021. 

Please just complete our online application process as normal. As part of the application process, you’ll be asked to provide your vaccination record. 

The Government have advised that the only proof of vaccination that we can accept is a vaccination record PDF from your My Covid Record. 

Find out how to get your vaccination record here >

Risks and immunisation status

Clinical Placement Providers require Otago Polytechnic to hold documentary evidence (ie a copy of current laboratory results) of your immune status and vaccination history for certain diseases before commencement of program. This information may be shared as necessary with clinical placement providers. The infectious diseases which we are required to hold immune status information for include:

  • Varicella Zoster Ig G
  • Varicella Zoster Ig G
  • Rubella antibody test (Rubella Ig G)
  • Hepatitis B surface antigen test
  • Hepatitis B surface antibody test
  • Tuberculosis:  Quantiferon Gold – TB
  • Measles Ig G

You are required to provide recent lab blood-test results that outline your current immune status in relation to the above infectious diseases. Immune status can only be ascertained by blood test. These are mandatory tests required for applications to be considered – it does not guarantee acceptance into the competence assessment program.

Please also provide a copy of your immunisation record with your application documents and your blood test results.

Lab results must be in English and on official laboratory results forms. Quantiferon results should be from within the past 12 months.

MRSA (nasal swab) is only required if applicants have previously tested positive for MRSA.

Recommended vaccinations:

Pertussis: it is strongly recommended that candidates are vaccinated for pertussis. The prevalence of this infectious condition is on the rise and health authorities are recommending booster vaccination for adults.

Influenza: It is strongly recommended that candidates are vaccinated annually against influenza.

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. Your academic records/qualifications. 
  2. Proof of registration or expired practising certificate from the Nursing Council of New Zealand.
  3. 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).
  4. A health declaration.
  5. Evidence of your immunisation status.
  6. A curriculum vitae (CV).
  7. A written statement about your skills and experience (cover letter).
  8. Contact details for two referees - (one from your most recent employer).
  9. Certified copies of proof of identity.
  10. Evidence that you meet English language requirements (if English is not your first language).

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 240 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 240 hours (six 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. 

Apply Now