Frequently Asked Questions

​​​What is the relationship between the PDRP and the annual practising certificates?  Can I be audited by Nursing Council if I am on a PDRP? 

A PDRP may be approved by Nursing Council as meeting the requirements for a practising certificate. The Regional PDRP was granted approval by Nursing Council of New Zealand in June 2006. Any nurse successful on this PDRP will not be audited by Council as s/he will will already be deemed "competent" by Nursing Council. 

The differences between PDRP and NCNZ audit are many. The PDRP exists to:

  • Advance professional development in nursing
  • Support nurses in demonstrating competency to the Nursing Council 
  • Fulfil obligations negotiated under the New Zealand Nurses Organisation Nurses’ MECA

Nursing Council is the statutory authority that governs the practice of nurses. The HPCA Act (2003) requires the Council to ensure the continuing competence of practitioners to protect public safety. Therefore competence evaluation is carried out through 5% random audit of nurses per annum. Council is legally obliged under the Act to monitor and audit competence. If the nurse audited has not provided sufficient evidence, Council will request that further evidence is supplied within a few weeks of notification before the annual practising certificate can be issued.

On the other hand, PDRP is an organisational programme that recognises and rewards the valuable contributions of our nurses to patient care outcomes. It offers support for nurses to demonstrate their level of practice on Competent, Proficient, Expert or Accomplished levels, in addition to providing exemption from Council’s audit processes. The competent level, therefore, is very closely aligned to Council’s audit processes with only minimal differences. 

In assessing competencies, feedback and encouragement is given to nurses submitting portfolios. If an applicant has not yet met the requirements of the level applied for, a supportive development plan is given. The goal of PDRP is to have nurses achieve and applicants regularly feedback how helpful the PDRP process has been. 

It is vital to feel valued and appreciated for the important work nurses do. The PDRP is an excellent tool to provide individualised direct feedback on their nursing practice.​

Is there capping of numbers at applications to Proficient and Expert levels?

No, it is open to all who can demonstrate the criteria for each level have been met.

Do I have to do this?  Is being on a PDRP compulsory?

No, however proving competency to Nursing Council is and this is certainly a productive way to do so. You will also receive individual feedback.

Will the "Competent" level on the PDRP eventually be compulsory?

The competent level requires that you demonstrate the requirements for an annual practising certificate and of your position description. There are two issues which need consideration in answering this question. The first is related to the competence requirements of the Nursing Council for retention of a practising certificate and the requirements of your organisation of you as an employee. The second is related to the PDRP.

Firstly, the requirements of the regulatory body, the Nursing Council of NZ, for a practising certificate and your obligations to your employer to fulfill your position description are compulsory. You cannot practice without a practising certificate and if you do not fulfill the requirements of your employment position then the employer will undertake a process to ensure that you meet them in the future. Both the Council’s and the employer’s requirements are said to be at competency to practice level.

Secondly, a PDRP establishes levels that differentiate beginning practice through to expert practice. The Regional PDRP complies with the national framework which identifies the number of levels for RN and for EN. The first level of a PDRP is specified as beginning practice, a transitional and familiarization level, with level 2 being named competent practice. The upper two levels for RN (proficient and expert) and the upper two levels for EN (proficient and accomplished level) which attract an additional payment in recognition of that extra endeavour within the MECA.

The RN Proficient/Expert and EN Proficient/Accomplished levels of the PDRP are voluntary. There is no compulsion to make application for these levels.  Nursing Council is notified of those successfully participating at Competent level and they are exempt from audit.

Nationally, some DHBs have policies that it is compulsory for all nurses to meet the competent requirements, whereas others say that participation in the programme is voluntary for all levels.

How are the assessors selected and trained?

Assessors are nurses nominated by their peers and endorsed by lline managers and/or Directors of Nursing. Assessors are trained to the NZ Qualifications Unit Standard for assessors by The Open Polytechnic of NZ. This training programme has been used by most DHBs nationally and has been found to be satisfactory. There is a moderation process to ensure consistency of assessor decisions.

How difficult is it to attain the "Expert" level of recognition and payment?

This level is sufficiently difficult in order to indicate that the expert level is a level which shows skill and expertise and as such is to be valued. The criteria set is consistent with national standards in other DHB programmes and complies with the national framework for PDRPs as per the MECA settlement. Criteria at the expert level is challenging and has been selected to differentiate expertise.

How long does the process take?

The process should take no longer than ten weeks from the date of submission, however, there are occasions where it may take longer, in which case you are notified that this is the case.  There is organisational variance across the regions.

What if I'm not a member of NZNO?

This does not stop you from joining the PDRP.

What does it mean at "Expert" level engages in postgraduate education or equivalent?

This is no longer applicable.

What does "relevant training" mean at Accomplished level?

Part of the Accomplished Level requirements for Enrolled Nurses is that the applicant is required to show evidence of relevant training. The Regional PDRP Advisory Committee has defined this as training to incorporate professional development relevant to their area of practice. A good example of this is the post enrolment course, Certificate in Health Studies at CPIT in Christchurch for Enrolled Nurses. Some Enrolled Nurses have also accessed Level 4 education (and above) through other learning institutions both in NZ and overseas which more than meets these requirements for their portfolio. To show proof of completion of study course certificates and transcripts should be included as evidence in your portfolio. Any outdated material (over 3 years) must be presented with a statement of its relevance to your current practice.

How will I know which level of the PDRP I should submit under?

Read the criteria for the levels and decide which level your practice sits at. If you are not sure, you can discuss this with a trusted colleague, or a CNM.
Enter the PDRP at whatever level you feel you meet, remembering that you must show evidence required to meet that level.

Will an assessor be available from my area of practice?

The criteria are generic rather than specialty specific. Therefore evidence should be able to be verified by a trained Assessor. It is not necessary for the Assessor to have detailed specialty-specific knowledge. At the practice discussion for Expert/Accomplished level, you may wish to bring a support person.

If a colleague asks me to do a peer review, how will I know what information to give?

There is ongoing education around this process and a template is available that lists helpful phrases you may wish to view. Remember that under the new guidelines peer reviews are only necessary if the performance appraisal provides insufficient evidence or you do not have a nurse as a line manager.

Can extensions be given at expiry for resubmissions of PDRP portfolios?

Unfortunately it is not possible for the PDRP to grant extensions to expiry dates as Nursing Council requirements state assessment against the competencies must take place every three years for nurses. If you resubmit your portfolio prior to or on your expiration date, there should be no interruption in your level of practice payment. Only if the expiration date comes and goes without resubmission will the PDRP payment be removed.  If the nurse submits their portfolio before or on their three year anniversary date, there will be no interruption to any salary increase that may be associated with their PDRP level.

Is there study leave associated with submitting a portfolio?

Staff working on preparing their portfolio or maintaining their skill levels associated with PDRP may require additional time to undertake research or study associated with the PDRP depending on your Employee Agreement. This may be negotiated with your CNM or DoN. For DHB staff please refer to the DHB/NZNO MECA (or other agreement) which outlines additional leave requirements or discuss with your CNM. DHB staff may also check their intranet for study leave requirements.

How much reflection am I expected to do on my professional development?

Nursing Council of New Zealand has recently issued new requirements regarding reflection on professional development activities.

Evidence of professional development hours (a minimum of 60 hours in the last three years) must be verified by your employer or nurse educator. This must also include a summary of the actual hours, signed by your employer or educator to confirm your participation. This person is to include his or her name, designation, address and phone number. 

What can be included in our professional development hours?

  • The professional development (PD) needs to be in the context to your practice area
  • These educational activities may be within the work environment or an educational context
  • The level of PD should be appropriate to your scope of practice and work context
  • The 60 hours of PD in the three year period should include more professional learning than the mandotory or core training by your employer
  • Some of your PD must be relevant to your development as a nurse and your area of practice
  • Journal reading may be considered a PD activity if it takes place within a formal framework such as a journal club, a presentation to colleagues or to inform an educational or quality improvement process.
  • Meetings may be considered a PD activity if they have an educational focus and include appropriate documentation, e.g. minutes that clearly identify the education topic.
  • As indicated on the 'Reflection on Professional Development' template, your portfolio should include an explanation of what you have learnt from three key learning activites OR a short reflection for each course/activity attended.

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Page last reviewed: 12 May 2020