Competency Assessment Programme (CAP) for Overseas Registered Nurses



Eight weeks full-time

Face-to-face and online learning, 10 days in theoretical skill-based study, plus a minimum of 240 hours in clinical practice at a clinical provider arranged by Otago Polytechnic

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 an internationally-registered nurse who has met the initial Nursing Council of New Zealand criteria and has been directed to complete a Competency Assessment Programme to obtain your nursing registration in New Zealand?

Complete this programme and become educated to the highest professional standards. Learn curriculum content specific to practice as part of a healthcare team in the New Zealand system. 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
Academic requirements 
  • You must have a recognised degree in Nursing. 
Other requirements 
  • You must:
    • provide the original written notification from the Nursing Council of the requirement to complete a Competency Assessment Programme before registration
    • have at least two years' experience as a registered nurse, within the last five years
    • provide a Criminal Conviction History Report
    • provide your immunity status - please see this document for requirements (and more info below)
    • make a health declaration and declare any criminal convictions
    • provide a CV detailing your professional nursing experience as this will help us 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.

Please note: You need to be computer literate and have access to a laptop to be able to study this programme.

English Language Requirements
  • If English is not your first language, you must provide:
    • New Zealand University Entrance OR
    • Overall Academic IELTS 7.0 with no individual band score lower than 7.0 (achieved in one test completed in the last two years), OR
    • Occupational English Test (OET) with a B band/score in each section (achieved in one test completed in the last two years), OR
    • Acceptable alternative evidence of the required IELTS (see here for NZQA proficiency table and here for list of recognised proficiency tests).

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

Please note: Scores higher than 7.0 (IELTS) and a B band/score (OET) are preferred and will facilitate achievement in the programme. Clubbed IELTS and OET will not be accepted. 

For enquiries about requirements for obtaining an Annual Practising Certificate 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. Academic record/qualifications. 
  2. Evidence of current nursing registration.
  3. Written notification from Nursing Council of New Zealand requiring you to complete a Competency Assessment Programme before registration.
  4. 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).
  5. A health declaration.
  6. Evidence of your immunisation status.
  7. Contact details for two referees - (one employer and one senior work colleague).
  8. A curriculum vitae (CV). 
  9. A written statement about your skills and experience (cover letter). 
  10. Certified copies of your passport and visa.
  11. Evidence that you meet English language requirements (if English is not your first language).
Selection procedure

All internationally-registered nurses who meet the English language requirements and provide the correct documentation will be considered for entry into this programme. However, acceptance is dependent on the availability of places in the requested intake. Preference is given to nurses with higher IELTS/OET scores and relevant clinical experience. There are a maximum number of applicants 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 Registered Nurse Competencies (Nursing Council of New Zealand, 2007) at the completion of this programme.


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: BN22001: Professional Assessment: Clinical Practicum (30 Credits) (Level 7)

This clinical course commences immediately after the theory course. 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 course, 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 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.

Your workload

This programme includes ten days of theory followed by 240 hours (six weeks) in clinical practice. Eight weeks is the minimum duration, ten 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 will be required to pay a compulsory insurance fee of approximately NZD $162 and an administration fee of approximately NZD $300. If you choose the homestay option, you will have to pay an additional NZD $1,000. You are also responsible for all additional costs related to the clinical courses/placement such as accommodation, transport, uniforms and meals. 

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