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Short Course in Competency Assessment for Registered Nurses

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.

A photograph of UCOL international nursing students asministrating a dummy at the UCOL nursing class
Quick info

Level: 7

Locations: UCOL Manawatū in Palmerston North

Duration: 12 weeks, full-time

Palmerston North

2021 Dates
30 Aug 2021 - 21 Nov 2021
11 Oct 2021 - 24 Dec 2021

2022 Dates
17 Jan 2022 - 10 Apr 2022
14 Mar 2022 - 05 Jun 2022
22 Aug 2022 - 13 Nov 2022
03 Oct 2022 - 24 Dec 2022


2021 Dates
30 Dec 2020 - 09 Apr 2021

2022 Dates
17 Jan 2022 - 08 Apr 2022

Please note, applicants may need to wait 12-18 months for an available place.

Domestic Fees: *
$2480.10Scholarship info

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.

COVID-19 Vaccinations:

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. The New Zealand Government has mandated the vaccine for frontline health care workers (first vaccination by 15 Nov 2021, and fully vaccinated by 1 Jan 2022). 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 will have an impact on you being able to successfully complete the programme.

You can see more information on this on UCOL's Covid-19 page, and on the Ministry of Health's website.

 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

This programme comprises 38 credits.

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 produce evidence of their immune status in respect of the following: Hepatitis B antibody status, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Chicken Pox, Tuberculosis and Tetanus (if a chest x-ray is done a copy of the report is to be provided).

All applicants are required to declare all criminal or pending criminal convictions, undertake a background check from the NZ Police Licensing and Vetting Agency, or equivalent if they have lived abroad.

All applicants are required to provide evidence that they meet Sections 16(d) and 45(5) of the Health Practitioners Competence Act 2003 and to complete a health declaration form.

All applicants must provide a complete CV detailing their nursing experience.


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

Overseas registered nurses who have English as a second language must meet the English language requirements of both NZQA and NCNZ valid at the time of enrolment. The minimum English language requirements are:

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

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

Approximated cost for Serology testing and MRSA $275. Travel and accommodation costs $2000-$2500

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. 

Clinical placements

Clinical placements are located in our health districts and you will be required to do your clinical placements across these health districts. Please click here for our health district information. You are responsible for the costs relating to travel, accommodation and meals for clinical placement.


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