UCOL is concerned about the future of its international nursing students if a proposed change to how they are registered in New Zealand goes ahead.
The Nursing Council has put out a document for consultation on a change that makes it harder for international nursing students to gain New Zealand registration.
Qualified nurses who move to New Zealand have to complete a one-year bachelor in nursing for registration degree before they can be recognised as a registered nurse.
The council wants to change the criteria for registering international nurses by comparing them to New Zealand-trained nurses. Some come from countries with different education or health systems.
Palmerston North's UCOL polytechnic and institute of technology is one of the few tertiary institutions in New Zealand that runs the programme for international nurses.
UCOL deputy chief executive Clare Crawley said it empathised with the students who were having difficulties registering. It knew of 10 international nurses having difficulty getting registration, she said.
"We are concerned by the Nursing Council's proposed changes," Mrs Crawley said. "The consultation document proposes that internationally qualified nurses complete at least two years' post-registration clinical experience. This is in addition to any clinical training done as part of their overseas qualification. This is not imposed on New Zealand qualified nurses."
Mrs Crawley said it was preparing a submission to the council on its consultation document.
Nursing Council chief executive Carolyn Reed said no decision had been made about whether the change would go ahead.
"The Nursing Council has specific requirements around the amount of credit that can be given for clinical practice," she said.
"This is to ensure that New Zealand graduates are fit for purpose in the New Zealand healthcare context and New Zealand citizens can be reassured that the nurses meet the required standards for safe practice."
Each registration application is considered individually.
"The council's role is to set the standard required for all nurses to register in New Zealand (both New Zealand graduate and internationally qualified nurses). The standard is the same for all nurses. This gives the public the assurance that the nurses offering them care are safe and competent."
Massey University Professor of Nurses Jenny Carryer said the council had to ensure it was registering people who were up to scratch.
"No-one would thank the Nursing Council for registering people who don't meet exactly the same rigorous standards as everyone else who registers," she said.
"The real issue here is the people who have come in with an expectation. That's pretty heartbreaking for those people."
Prof Carryer said the change would not affect Massey University's nursing programmes which offers an undergraduate and postgraduate bachelor of nursing degree.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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