Registered Nurse Pathway

This pathway enables registered nurses to transition into a career in midwifery. 

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About the programme

This newly developed pathway allows Registered Nurses to transition into our Bachelor of Midwifery programme by recognising prior learning and experience to provide a fast-track into the second year of this degree.

You'll start with two Midwifery Special Topic courses held over 14 weeks, starting in August, then move into the full second and final years of the Bachelor of Midwifery.

You'll learn through a combination of face-to-face wānanga (workshops held in Dunedin or Porirua depending on your location), a mixture of online skills sessions with your kaiako, interactive online tutorials, and midwifery practice experiences such as hospital shifts and community-based midwifery experience.   

This programme leads to registration with Te Tatau o te Whare Kahu (Midwifery Council of New Zealand).

Studying part-time 

We know that full-time study isn't always possible. You can choose to study part-time in year two. 

Programme structure by year  

Year one

Commence in August and undertake two Midwifery Special Topic courses over 14 weeks. These courses are:

1. Introduction to Midwifery Theory for Registered Nurses

A specifically created 10-credit course that includes:

  • Key socio-political and cultural forces that have shaped the historical development of midwifery frameworks and knowledge
  • Midwifery ways of knowing as a collective and shared process
  • Theories, frameworks and values that underpin a sustainable approach to midwifery practice, including broad philosophical and socio/cultural/economic principles of sustainability, to enable you to consider the contribution that midwifery can make to sustainable healthcare within the frameworks of midwifery practice
  • Legislation and midwifery regulation in Aotearoa.

2. Introduction to Midwifery Practice for Registered Nurses

A specifically created 15-credit course that includes:

  • Theory: Understanding informed decision making and women’s choices, antenatal assessment, including abdominal palpation and fetal heart auscultation, anatomy and physiology of the breast and introduction to breastfeeding, anatomy and physiology of the pelvis, mechanism of labour, supporting a woman during labour and birth and the postnatal assessment
  • Practical: Following through one to two women sharing their experience in the antenatal, labour/birth and postnatal periods. You will attend antenatal, labour/birth and postnatal appointments as agreed by the woman
  • One week (40 hours) in a maternity facility – where possible this will be in a primary maternity facility.

Please note: Special Topic courses are an adjunct to the Bachelor of Midwifery and do not qualify for StudyLink funding.

Successful completion of these two Special Topic courses results in approval for Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) for two first-year Bachelor of Midwifery courses, and you'll also receive RPL for six first-year Bachelor of Midwifery courses as a result of meeting the entry requirements for this pathway. 

Year two 

You will join our second-year midwifery student cohort and undertake the remainder of the Bachelor of Midwifery as a distance learner from your satellite region. 

If you are based outside of Dunedin or Wellington (excluding Palmerston North and Whanganui) you are required to have some tertiary maternity experience in the Birthing Suite at the tertiary hospital related to the Midwife and Collaborative Practice course and in the Neonatal or Special Care Baby Unit related to the Newborn courses (return to the Bachelor of Midwifery page to read about these courses in more detail).

Students based in Palmerston North and Whanganui may undertake this experience in their local secondary level maternity unit.

You can elect to undertake your second-year studies part-time over two years.

Final year

You'll enrol full-time in all Final Year courses and will undertake at least two placements outside your satellite region. Once you have met all Midwifery Council practice requirements you will be eligible to sit the Midwifery Council National Midwifery examination in December.

Return to the Bachelor of Midwifery page and scroll down to see a detailed breakdown of this programme year by year. 

Entry requirements

  • Registered Nurse with a Bachelor of Nursing undertaken in a New Zealand educational institution within the last 10 years unless evidence of recent postgraduate study
  • Hold a current Annual Practicing Certificate (APC) with a minimum of one year practice experience
  • Demonstrate good standing with your Regulatory Authority – Nursing Council of New Zealand
  • Complete vulnerable children’s screening
  • Meet local DHB (now Te Whatu Ora) immunisation requirements
  • Successfully complete the selection process for the Bachelor of Midwifery programme at Otago Polytechnic | Te Pūkenga. Return to the Bachelor of Midwifery page and click the 'Entry' tab to see a full list of entry requirements. 

Please note: Any Registered Nurse who qualified with a Bachelor of Nursing in New Zealand more than 10 years ago, and hasn’t done any postgraduate study but has recorded other professional development that demonstrates engagement with study, is encouraged to assemble a portfolio and apply.


You will pay a smaller fee for your first-year equivalent, then standard fees for the Bachelor of Midwifery in years two and three. 

Return to the Bachelor of Midwifery page and click the 'Fees' tab for more detail. 

How to apply

  1. Return to the Bachelor of Midwifery page and click the blue 'Apply now' button.
  2. Select 'Dunedin' or 'Wellington' and choose the 'Registered Nurse - Midwifery Pathway' option before continuing with your application. 

Working while studying

You may choose to work part-time or on a casual basis as a Registered Nurse while undertaking the Bachelor of Midwifery. However, it is recommended that you do not work in maternity during this time to ensure clarity of Registered Nurse/tauira roles.

Contact us 

Want to chat through your options? Contact Christine Griffiths, Head of the School of Midwifery, by emailing christine.griffiths@op.ac.nz


Postgraduate specialties in midwifery

Postgraduate specialties in midwifery

Choose from a range of specialist topics with our online Postgraduate study programmes.

Contact us

If you want to know more about what we offer or you would like some guidance, we’re here to help. Feel free to chat to us directly about any questions you may have.