Nursing In New Zealand

The skills shortage of Nurses in New Zealand is heading for crisis, due to an ageing workforce, graduates heading overseas, and a global nursing shortage with increased demand for nurses expected now and in the future. Therefore New Zealand is desperately looking to attract overseas qualified Nurses.

Nursing in New Zealand can provide new and exciting challenges for those wishing to relocate. There are wide and varied options and a wealth of career development opportunities as New Zealand offers a range of nursing practice specialities.

Areas of need include:

  • Critical Care eg. ICU/HDU/CCU
  • Operating Theatres
  • Midwifery
  • Mental health
  • Rehabilitation
  • Community/District Care
  • Aged care
  • Child health /Paediatrics

Positions include:

  • Telemedicine or telehealth
  • Management
  • Nurse educators
  • Registered General Nurses/Practitioners/Researchers
  • Clinical Nurse Managers

Nursing Council of New Zealand Registration Requirements

It is strongly recommended that you do NOT make plans to move to New Zealand until you have completed the registration process. Registration is a strict requirement from an employment and immigration standpoint. The registration process can be difficult and require you to obtain specific documents to lodge a complete application, therefore it is advisable to obtain professional assistance with this necessary requirement. Failure to lodge a complete application will result in processing delays and in some cases refusal. Processing times can vary considerably and in some cases the registration process can take up to 6 months.

The Nursing Council of New Zealand (NCNZ) governs the practice of nurses throughout New Zealand. Registered Nurses who have gained their registration in their home country need to apply to the NCNZ before being able to practice as a Registered Nurse. Applicants for registration are required to provide evidence that:

  • they have an equivalent international nursing qualification
  • are competent to practise within their scope of practice
  • are fit for registration, which includes the ability to communicate effectively in English for the purpose of practising nursing

As from 1 January 2009 all internationally qualified Nurses, including those from English speaking countries, will be required to complete an English language test prior to applying for New Zealand nursing registration.

Nurses and the Skilled Migrant Category

Once you have secured registration from the NCNZ it is advised that you seek professional New Zealand immigration advice to look into your visa eligibility and lodge an Expression of Interest (EOI) under the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) immediately. By lodging your EOI you have started the process of obtaining permanent residency, which is the more preferred visa option for you and your family by providing the security of outright permanent residency.

There are various Nursing professions listed on the New Zealand Long Term Skills Shortages List (LTSSL). Provided you meet criteria under the SMC and the qualification requirements on the LTSSL, permanent residency can be secured without an offer of employment. Though if you do have an employment offer your visa application will be fast tracked and therefore a temporary visa may not be required.

If you obtain an offer of employment and you employer wants you to start immediately, it is advised that you apply for either a temporary work visa or temporary work to residence visa, given that these applications can be processed very quickly. These visas will allow you to obtain work rights in New Zealand quickly and therefore commence employment. However, it is advised that you simultaneously lodge an EOI under the SMC and once this is processed this will override your temporary visa resulting in permanent residence. To ensure your long term future in New Zealand it is crucially important for you and your family to have the security of permanent residency.

A snapshot of the type of Nursing Positions Available

Below are examples of some of Nursing opportunities available in New Zealand.

Operating Theatre Scrub RGNs – North and South Island (City)

  • Must have current NZ Nurses registration
  • Have at least 2 years post graduation experience in the Operating Theatre
  • Post graduation certificate is desirable, but not essential
  • Be able to work unsupervised and deputise for senior staff in their absence
  • Have experience to deal with an array of cases with the main focus scrubbing for:
  • Orthopaedics/Cardiac/Paediatrics/Gynaecology/Plastics/Urology/Gastro/ENT

Recovery RGNs – North and South Island (City)

  • Hold current NZ Nurses Registration
  • Have at least 2 years post graduation experience in the Recovery department
  • Post graduation certificate desirable, but not essential
  • Be able to work independently and also within a team effectively
  • Have experience in caring for the post operative patient in a variety of speciality disciplines.

Anaesthetic RGNs/Anaesthetic Technician s- North and South Island

  • Hold current NZ Nurses registration or NZAT registration
  • Have at least 2 years post graduation experience in the Operating Theatre department
  • Post graduation certificate desirable, but not essential
  • Be able to work independently and also within a team effectively
  • Have experience in caring for the pre and post operative patient in varied anaesthetic procedures

Midwives – North and South Island

  • To hold current NZ Nurses registration as a Midwife
  • To have at least 2 years post graduation experience
  • To be able to work autonomously and also be able to work well within a team.
  • Post graduation certificates are desirable, but not essential
  • To effectively provide support for the pre-conception, intra-partum, antenatal and post natal periods of pregnancy
  • Provide care and management of pregnancy and birth
  • Providing advice on nutrition, childcare and family planning

Studying Nursing in New Zealand

New Zealand qualified Nurses are highly desirable on the international market, this is demonstrated by other countries actively recruiting qualified Nurses from New Zealand. If you are not yet a Registered Nurse and are looking at training to become one, why not study Nursing in New Zealand? In order to become a registered nurse in New Zealand you need to complete a three year Bachelor of Nursing degree.

Obtaining a New Zealand student visa to complete a Bachelor of Nursing should lead to permanent residency and an abundance of career opportunities. If you are interested in studying Nursing you will need to apply to one of the many Schools of Nursing in New Zealand.

If you are a registered nurse or thinking of studying nursing, New Zealand needs you and therefore it is advisable that you obtain as much information about the Nursing profession, registration, immigration requirements and most importantly the opportunities that may exist for you.

New Zealand is truly an amazing country. The people are friendly, the weather is superb and the lifestyle is unbeatable with a perfect pace for you and your family and plenty of career opportunities in the Nursing profession.

Borey is a qualified New Zealand Solicitor and Principal of Migration Associates, a New Zealand specialist visa company with an office in the UK and Ainslie Barry is a Registered Nurse with a Post Graduate Certificate in Perioperative Nursing and Director of HCI Recruitment, a New Zealand and Australian health / medical recruitment company, with an office in the UK.