Working as an internationally qualified migrant nurse in New Zealand is a fulfilling and rewarding career that offers a fantastic opportunity to play a vital role in helping New Zealand's health system thrive.
To become a Registered Nurse in New Zealand, all internationally qualified nurses (IQNs) must meet the competency requirements of the Nursing Council of New Zealand. To make this process as streamlined as possible, many international nurses must complete a Competence Assessment Programme (CAP).
At NZJS, we aim to make your journey to live and work as an internationally qualified migrant nurse in New Zealand as easy as possible.
Specifically created for Internationally Qualified Nurses, this blog gives you an overview of CAP, insights in what exactly CAP is, how it works and where you can find the best CAP courses for nurses in New Zealand.
What is a Competence Assessment Programme (CAP)?
The Competence Assessment Programme (CAP) is a necessary step in your journey to become a Registered Nurse in New Zealand. The CAP course offers a comprehensive introduction to New Zealand nursing practices. These courses are specifically designed for Internationally Qualified Nurses who want to work in New Zealand and Kiwi nurses returning to the workforce.
During the CAP course you will establish the knowledge and skills required to practice as a nurse in New Zealand. CAP covers both the theoretical understanding of nursing in New Zealand and the practical application of standard nursing protocols.
In addition to the skills and knowledge required to practice as an Internationally Qualified Nurse in New Zealand, you will also learn about New Zealand's unique heritage and relationship with local Iwi. This learning allows migrant nurses to practice in a manner that upholds equitable health outcomes for patients and their families in a culturally sensitive way.
What are the CAP New Zealand nurse requirements
Before enrolling in a CAP course in New Zealand, Internationally Qualified Nurses must meet the initial Nursing Council of New Zealand (NCNZ) criteria. You must then provide documented proof in the form of a letter to apply for enrollment in a CAP course.
You do not require an offer of employment before applying to the nursing council for a CAP letter of recommendation unless you intend on applying for government funding to help with the cost of your CAP course.
To successfully apply to NCNZ, you must prove that you have:
- At least two years, or 2,500 hours, of nursing practice during the last five years
- Your credentials as a qualified nurse verified and authenticated by the Credentials Verification Service (CGFNS)
- Meet the NCNZ English Language Competence policy requirements or apply for a language waiver. (IELTS is the preferred English assessment)
We have created a comprehensive guide to becoming an internationally qualified nurse in New Zealand. You can access this guide on our nurse information page here:
What is the CAP structure for internationally qualified nurses?
The Competence Assessment Programme (CAP) for Internationally Qualified Nurses runs for approximately 8-12 weeks, depending on your provider. The course is split into two main components: theoretical learning and clinical practice placement. Some providers also offer simulated practice.
Theoretical Component: The theoretical component of CAP allows you to meet selected Registered Nurse competencies that are required to work as a nurse in New Zealand. CAP theory includes topics such as reflective practice for professional learning, skills for client management, pharmacology, biculturalism in New Zealand, culturally safe practice, and leadership in nursing.
Clinical Practicum: The clinical practicum starts after the theoretical component is completed. You will be required to work in a healthcare setting under supervision for up to six weeks. During this time you will familiarise yourself with nursing practices in New Zealand. This means you can successfully demonstrate that you meet the Nursing Council Registered Nurse requirements and apply to work as a Registered Nurse in New Zealand.
New pre-registration requirement for IQNs
From July 2023, in addition to CAP, all Internationally Qualified Nurses must complete two eLearning modules. These modules provide essential information to equip you with the knowledge required for culturally safe nursing practice in New Zealand.
When all of your required learnings are successfully completed, you will receive a Certificate of Completion that you must provide to the Nursing Council of New Zealand before you can apply for Registration.
CAP Programme Fees and Associated Costs
CAP tuition fees range between $8,000 and $13,000 (as of July 2023). Some courses charge an additional fee for items such as textbooks, uniforms and any other course related costs that may be required.
During your CAP course, you will also need to account for your living expenses, such as accommodation, food, and transport during the course. Many providers offer homestay or private accommodation options while you are completing your CAP.
CAP Funding for Internationally Qualified Nurses
Although the course is self-funded, on completion, you can apply for a government grant that reimburses most of the cost. Some employers may also offer to pay for the CAP course and provide an allowance during your study period.
The maximum that can be reimbursed is NZ$10,000 and funding is prioritised for Internationally Qualified Nurses who will be working full-time in a patient-facing role.
If you want to apply for funding, you must have confirmation from NCNZ that you need to complete a CAP course. You must also provide confirmation of your CAP course provider and your Cap course start date.
What happens after I complete my CAP course?
After completing your CAP course and the two online learning modules, you must then Register with the Nursing Council of New Zealand (NCNZ). Once registered you can begin working as a nurse in New Zealand.
Timeframe for Internationally Qualified Nurse assessments
You can apply for your assessment online. Due to an increase in IQN applications, it can take approximately 20 working days to be assigned to a case manager. It then takes approximately 45 days for the assessment to be completed. Those who already have an offer of employment after their CAP course may be prioritised.
CAP COURSES FOR NURSES IN NEW ZEALAND
CAP programmes for internally qualified nurses in New Zealand are offered in various regions across New Zealand by Council-accredited providers. These providers include District Health Boards (DHBs), Schools of Nursing, Tertiary Education Institutions and other aged-care health service providers.
Whilst some providers, like aged-care facilities and DHBs, have in-house training, it is good to be aware that you may be placed in various DHBs or health sector settings around New Zealand to complete your clinical practice.
CAP course providers for nurses in New Zealand
Below is a list of certified New Zealand CAP Course providers for Internationally Qualified Nurses. The information has been separated into North and South Island regions.
NORTHLAND POLYTECHNIC | TE PŪKENGA, WHANGAREI - AUCKLAND
Situated in the North of the North Island, NorthTec offers two CAP intakes in Auckland per year and one CAP intake in Whangarei. This flexible course consists of 2 weeks of theory and up to 6 weeks of clinical practice. Students must attend classes for two compulsory days in the 2-week theory component.
Auckland CAP intake: 14 Aug 2023, 23 Oct 2023
Whangārei CAP intake: 16 Oct 2023
International Fee for CAP course: NZ$10,815
ELIZABETH KNOX HOME + HOSPITAL, AUCKLAND
Elizabeth Knox Home + Hospital
Based in the Auckland suburb of Epsom, Elizabeth Knox Home + Hospital specialises in elder healthcare and younger people with physical disabilities.
Knox offers an intensive seven-week programme to help you become a registered IQN in New Zealand while supporting your transition to nursing practice. You will spend two weeks on theoretical learning and five weeks in a clinical placement at Elizabeth Knox Home & Hospital and its affiliate clinical placement providers.
CAP intake: Knox has three intakes per year in March, July and October
International Fee for CAP course: NZ$10,000
WESLEY INSTITUTE OF NURSING EDUCATION, AUCKLAND
Wesley Institute of Nursing Education
As part of the Oceania Group, Wesley Institute offers six Competency Assessment Programmes annually. All clinical placements are NZNC-approved healthcare facilities in both the North (Auckland) and South Island (Hawke's Bay, Christchurch) of NZ. The main training venue for CAP, and where theory week in week one is completed, is based in Auckland.
CAP intake: Jan, March, April (2024)
International Fee for CAP course: NZ$8,900 + Administration fee of $ 345.00
MANUKAU INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY (MIT) | TE PŪKENGA, AUCKLAND
Manukau Institute of Technology
Located in Auckland's south, MITCAP course has four intakes per year. This full-time course consists of 12 weeks, with the theory portion taking place during weekdays. The practical component features shift work across seven days.
CAP intake: January, March, May, September
International Fee for CAP course: NZ$11,100 (approximately)
WINTEC | TE PŪKENGA, HAMILTON
Located in Hamilton, Wintec's main campus offers three CAP course intakes per year. This full-time CAP course takes approximately 9-12 weeks to complete. It involves up to 10 days of classroom and self-directed learning and five to ten weeks of supervised clinical placements.
CAP intake: August 2023, October 2023, January 2024
International Fee for CAP course: NZ$9,498
WESTERN INSITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY AT TARANAKI (WITT) | TE PŪKENGA
Located in Taranaki, WITT offers an intensive CAP programme that consists of three weeks of theory and six weeks of clinical practice. Applications at WITT are accepted subject to the availability of suitable clinical placements.
CAP intake: July 2023, August 2023, October 2023
International Fee for CAP course: NZ$13,000
AVATAR INSTITUTE OF LEARNING, NEW PLYMOUTH
Avatar Institute of Learning
Based in New Plymouth, on the North Island's west coast, the Avatar Institute of Learning Competence Assessment Programme is delivered over eight weeks of full-time learning. Students will have three weeks of theoretical learning and five weeks of fully supervised practicum in a clinical setting.
There are four intakes per year in June, August and October. The next available intake for international students is:
CAP Intake: 15th January – 8th March 2024
International Fee for CAP course: NZ$10,250
TOI OHOMAI INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY | TE PŪKENGA, ROTORUA
Toi Ohomai Institute Of Technology
Location in Rotorua on New Zealand's North Island, the Toi Ohomai Institute Of Technology offers its CAP course on their Mokoia Campus. The course takes approximately 12 weeks full-time, and whilst it is usually delivered in 9 weeks, an extra three weeks is available for students who require more practice to show evidence of competency.
CAP Intake: October 2023
International Fee for CAP course: NZ$10,448
UNIVERSAL COLLEGE OF LEARNING | TE PŪKENGA (UCOL)
LOWER NORTH ISLAND
UCOL offers their CAP course in three different locations around the lower North Island. These are New Plymouth, Whanganui and Masterton. This CAP course is 12 weeks with approximately 20 hours of class time, including 3-4 hours of online classes. UCOL is advising that applicants may need to wait 12-18 months for an available place.
Palmerston North: 21 Aug 2023, 02 Oct 2023
Whanganui: 2024 dates TBC
Masterton: 21 Aug 2023, 02 Oct 2023
International Fee for CAP course: NZ$10,500.
EASTERN INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY (EIT) | TE PŪKENGA, HAWKE’S BAY
Located in Hawke’s Bay on the lower east coast of the North Island, the Eastern Institute of Technology offers CAP comprising two weeks of theory and five weeks of clinical placement. The course takes place Monday to Friday, with some optional tutorials that can be attended after class.
CAP intake: Three intakes per year: January, June and October
International Fee for CAP course: NZ$8,200
LONSDALE EDUCATION CENTRE, FOXTON - MANAWATŪ-WHANGANUI
Londsdale Education Centre
Located in Foxton on the North Island's west coast, Lonsdale Education Centre offers its CAP course in two parts. The theory portion of CAP can be completed via an online eLearning platform and can be completed before you travel to New Zealand.
You must pass the theoretical component before enrolling for a clinical practice placement where you will be placed in Aged Residential Care, a Private hospital, or a District Health Board. The practical component takes approximately four weeks to complete.
Cap Intake: Anytime via the online portal
International Fee for CAP course:
Theory NZ$3,300 NZD +GST
Practical: NZ $4,700 + GST
ENLIVEN CENTRAL, LEVIN - MANAWATŪ-WHANGANUI
Located in Levin, in the Horowhenua District on the North Island's west coast Enliven has five annual intakes. Specialising in Aged Care, Enliven offer a supportive environment with onsite accommodation (for an additional cost) the two-week theory portion of the course.
Cap Intake: January, March, June, August and October
International Fee for CAP course: NZ$11,000
WHITIREIA | TE PŪKENGA, PORIRUA – WELLINGTON
Located in Porirua in the Wellington region, Whitireia offers a 7-8 week CAP course for Internationally Qualified Nurses.
Cap Intake: October 2023
International Fee for CAP course: NZ$11,000* indicative
ARA INSTITUTE OF CANTERBURY | TE PŪKENGA, CHRISTCHURCH
Ara Institute of Canterbury
Located in Christchurch, the Ara Institute offers two CAP intakes per year in their Christchurch and Timaru campuses. The intensive programme comprises of three weeks theory and six weeks of clinical practice.
*Intake is full until 2024
International Fee for CAP course: NZ$9,500
ROSEBANK LIFECARE, ASHBURTON
Rosebank Lifecare is a certified Aged Care Facility based in Ashburton in the Canterbury region of the South Island. Rosebank's facilities allow CAP students to complete the required theory and clinical hours onsite. They have a dedicated CAP Coordinator and an onsite training/education suite.
Cap Intake: Rosebank offers four intakes per year:
24 Jul to 22 Sept 2023 (CLOSED)
24th October to 9th December 2023
29th January to 22nd March 2024
6th May to 28th June 2024
International Fee for CAP course: NZD$11,000
NELSON MARLBOROUGH INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY (NMIT) | TE PŪKENGA NELSON
Located in Nelson, in the Marlborough region of the South Island, NMIT offers CAP courses for nurses in NZ. The CAP course runs for 12 weeks with 150 total student learning hours and a maximum of 300 clinical practice hours.
*No intakes at present
International Fee for CAP course: NZ$10,045 plus $90 Student Services Levy
OTAGO POLYTECHNIC | TE PŪKENGA, DUNEDIN
Located in Dunedin on the South Island, Otago Polytechnic offers intakes for their CAP course for nurses in NZ four times yearly. Their CAP programme includes ten days of theory plus 240 hours, or six weeks of clinical practice. The estimated timeframe to complete your CAP course is 8-9 weeks.
Cap Intake: Jan, April, July, September
International Fee for CAP course: NZ$9,264
How NZJS can help
With over 20 years of experience helping Internationally Qualified Nurses live and work in New Zealand, NZJS offers knowledge and support to make the transition as easy as possible. If you are an IQN looking for your dream nursing job in New Zealand, NZJS can help. For more information on CAP and how we can assist you in your journey to becoming a Registered nurse, register your interest today.
For more information on working as a Nurse in New Zealand, head to our Nurses Page. On this page you can access our comprehensive guide to the process, pay rates and cost to becoming a registered Nurse in New Zealand.