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Competency Assessment Programme (CAP) for Overseas Registered Nurses



Eight-nine 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 2021
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
  • You must provide the original written notification from the Nursing Council of the requirement to complete a Competency Assessment Programme before registration.
  • You must have a recognised degree in Nursing.
  • You must have at least two years' experience as a registered nurse, within the last five years.
  • You must be computer literate and have access to a laptop.
  • You must provide a Criminal Conviction History Report.
  • You must provide your immunity status - please see this document for 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

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. 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.

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. A written statement about your skills and experience (cover letter)
  5. Submit a curriculum vitae
  6. A health declaration
  7. Evidence of your immunisation status
  8. 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.)
  9. Contact details for two referees - (one employer and one senior work colleague.)
  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. 


While every effort is made to ensure that this sheet is accurate, Otago Polytechnic reserves the right to amend, alter or withdraw any of the contained information. The fees shown in this document are indicative ONLY. Both domestic and international fees are subject to change and are dependent on the development and implementation of Government policies. Please note that additional fees may from time to time be required for external examination, NZQA fees and/or additional material fees.

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