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Short Course in Competency Assessment for Registered Nurses

Level 7

UCOL’s Short Course in Competency Assessment for Registered Nurses (RN) will allow nurses to apply for registration with the Nursing Council of New Zealand (NCNZ) according to their scope of practice.

Nursing student studies at the Palmerston North campus
Quick info

Level: 7

Locations: Palmerston North

Duration: 12 weeks, full-time

15 Jan 2018 - 13 Apr 2018
12 Mar 2018 - 8 Jun 2018
27 Aug 2018 - 23 Nov 2018
8 Oct 2018 - 11 Jan 2019

Domestic Fees:*
$2,332.50Scholarship info

Find out if you're eligible for fees-free study

International Fees:*

Additional Fees
Compulsory course costs may apply.

* Fees are indicative only, and are inclusive of the student services levy and GST (goods and services tax). The fee shown is for one year of study.

The aim of this short course is to provide registered nurses with the opportunity to demonstrate competence against the Nursing Council of New Zealand (NCNZ) Competencies for Registered Nurse Scope of Practice (2007).

Applications are assessed on an individual basis and in accordance with the requirements of the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003.

 Career & Study Outcomes

  • Hospitals
  • Community agencies
  • Māori health education
  • Iwi-based
  • Health centres
  • Government departments
  • Employment overseas
To find out more about possible job prospects and salaries, see Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's Occupation Outlook for Registered Nurses.

 Course Information

Mandatory theoretical content 

• The Treaty of Waitangi
• Cultural safety
• Legislation impacting upon the practice of nurses in New Zealand. (NCNZ, 2005)

Competencies for the registered nurse scope of practice. (NCNZ, 2005) 

Professional responsibility

  • Ensuring nursing practice and conduct meets the standards of the professional, ethical and relevant legislated requirements. This includes upholding clients' legal rights, accepting responsibility for actions and decisions made within the scope of practice, identifying breaches of law in practice and reporting them, demonstrating appropriate knowledge, and utilising professional standards of practice.
  • Demonstrating knowledge of the Treaty of Waitangi in context of the health of New Zealanders and how it applies to nursing practice.
  • Promoting health and safety by assessing and managing risks, and identifying and reporting situations that affect people's health or safety.
  • Culturally safe nursing practices that respects consumers' identity and right to hold personal beliefs, values and goals.
Management of nursing care
  • Provision of planned nursing care in consultation with consumers to achieve identified outcomes.
  • Undertaking comprehensive and accurate nursing assessments.
  • Ensuring accurate information and maintenance of confidentiality.
  • Ensuring the consumer is fully informed of the effects, consequences and alternatives of proposed treatment options.
  • Acting appropriately to protect oneself and others when faced with unexpected consumer responses, confrontation, personal threat or other crisis situations.
  • Evaluation of consumers' progress toward expected outcomes.
  • Appropriate provision of health education appropriate to the needs of the consumer within a nursing framework.
  • Reflection and evaluation of the effectiveness of one's nursing care.
  • Ongoing professional development that contributes to one's own knowledge and practice, and supports that of one's colleagues.
Interpersonal relationships
  • Establishes, maintains and concludes therapeutic interpersonal relationships with consumers.
  • Practises nursing in a negotiated partnership with consumers where and when possible.
  • Communicates effectively.
Inter-professional health care and quality improvement
  • Collaboration and participation with colleagues and members of the health care team to facilitate and coordinate care.
  • Recognition of and valuing the roles and skills of all members of the health care team in the delivery of care.
  • Participation in quality improvement activities to monitor and improve standards of nursing.

The course also covers the following areas

• Pharmacological revision and drug calculation test
• Clinical core skills
• Introduction to wound care
• Introduction to infection control
• Vital signs
• Effective communication
• Document management and protocols
• Nursing skills specific to the practice setting
• Integration of theory into practice

 Learning Facilities

Simulation and Nursing Skills Labs, Science Labs

 Domestic Entry Requirements

Candidates must be either:

Nursing Council of New Zealand registered nurses who have been out of the nursing workforce for over five years


Nurses who hold a registration from another country and meet the Nursing Council of New Zealand requirements to undertake a Competence Assessment Programme.

All applicants must meet the general admission criteria as approved by the Academic Board.  

In addition, all New Zealand Registered Nurse applicants who have been out of the nursing workforce for over five years are required to:
  • Declare any previous criminal convictions prior to admission being confirmed. Convictions of any offence may not necessarily exclude applicants from enrolment; the decision is at the discretion of the Academic Leader; and
  • Authorise UCOL to obtain a background check from the New Zealand Police Licensing and Vetting Agency; and
  • Complete a health declaration form.


For more information about NCEA Credits see UCOL's NCEA explained page.

 International Entry Requirements

In addition to the Domestic Entry Requirements, the following applies to international student applicants:

Overseas registered nurses or nurse assistants seeking entry to the programme require written notification from the Nursing Council of New Zealand of the requirement to complete a Competence Assessment Programme before registration.

English Proficiency Entry Requirements
In addition to the Domestic Entry Requirements, international student applicants whose first language is not English must have an IELTS with an Academic score of 7.0 in reading, listening, writing and speaking, respectively. IELTS scores used must be taken from a single IELTS Test Report Form (i.e. combining scores from more than one test is not permissible). Alternatively, the Occupational English Test (OET) with a B band in reading, listening, writing and speaking, respectively. Candidates must demonstrate their ability to communicate effectively for the purpose of practising within their scope of practice.

Applicants under 20 years of age:
There are specific academic entry requirements for international students under 20 years of age. Please enquire for details.

 Advice & Guidance

UCOL's Short Course in Competency Assessment for Registered Nurses, Level 7 comprises 38 credits.

The programme is aimed at the registered nurse who has been out of practice for over five years or the overseas nurse who is seeking registration with the NCNZ.

At all times both categories of applicant will practice under the direction and close supervision of a preceptor who will take responsibility for the quality of care provided to the clients.  UCOL nursing lecturers assume academic responsibility. 

Work Experience
Students will be required to complete supervised clinical placements of up to 320 hours. The clinical experience will involve shift work and may be at various clinical agencies throughout New Zealand. The number of places available on the Short Course in Competency Assessment for Registered Nurses, Level 7 may be limited by access to clinical placements.

Study references

The following guides are available as free PDF downloads from Nursing Council of New Zealand and New Zealand Resuscitation Council:

  • Nursing Council of New Zealand. (2005). Guidelines for cultural safety, the Treaty of Waitangi, and Maori health in nursing education and practice. 
  • Nursing Council of New Zealand. (2012a). Competencies for registered nurses. 
  • Nursing Council of New Zealand. (2012b). Code of Conduct for Nurses.
  • New Zealand Resuscitation Council. Basic and Advanced Life Support.
Recognition of Prior Learning
Not applicable.

 Additional Costs

Recommended text books
Arnold, E., & Boggs, K. (2007) Interpersonal relationships: professional communications skills for nurses (5th ed.). Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders.

Brown, D., & Edwards, H. (2005). Lewis’s medical- surgical nursing: Assessment and management of clinical problems.  Sydney: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins. 

Burgess, M.E. (2002). A guide to the law for nurses and midwives (3nd ed.). Auckland: Prentice Hall.

Evans-Smith, P. (2005). Taylor’s Clinical skills: A nursing process approach. Philadelphia:  Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins. 

Farrel, M. (Ed.). (2005). Smeltzer & Bares text book of medical surgical nursing. Sydney, Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins. 

Lehne, R. A. (2006). Pharmacology for nursing care (6th ed.). St Louis, Missouri: Saunders. 

Macnee, C. L. (2004). Understanding nursing research: Reading and using research in practice. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Williams. 


The programme is approved by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority under the provisions of the Education Act 1989, and Universal College of Learning (UCOL) Trading as Universal College of Learning (UCOL) is accredited to teach it.