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Meeting the requirements

Processing of applications for overseas-qualified nurses has now begun.

Despite some initial teething problems, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency say applications for registration are now being routinely processed.

The agency came under fire in its first months for long delays in the registration process, changes in English requirements for international students and overseas-qualified nurses and for supplying conflicting and inaccurate, advice.

One group that has experienced the lengthiest delays has been the overseas-qualified nurses. AHPRA said now that a nationally consistent framework for assessing applications from this group had been developed, processing of applications had begun.

To ensure no applicant is disadvantaged, the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) has decided to recognise a transition period from 1 July to 13 September 2010. This spans the period between the start of Australia’s national registration and accreditation scheme and the implementation on 14 September 2010 of the board’s new assessment framework.

For applications received and not processed before 13 September, 2010, the board will honour the assessment frameworks adopted by the previous state or territory nursing and midwifery registration boards. Any qualification accepted by any one of these boards will be accepted by the NMBA in all Australian jurisdictions.

Nurses and midwives qualified in the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, the United States of America, Canada, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore who have a degree or a diploma and further education and who are registered as a first level nurse in these countries are deemed to have the equivalent qualification as a practitioner qualified in Australia.

Specifically, this means nurses and midwives who have successfully completed a
minimum six semester (or equivalent) bachelor degree or associate degree (or higher) in general nursing at a university in one of these countries, who also has professional licensure as a registered nurse in the country of education, will be considered to meet the requirement for equivalence to an Australian degree completed at an Australian university.

Nurses and midwives from these countries who have a diploma of higher education or advanced diploma at a university or equivalent institution, together with professional licensure as a registered nurse and further professional or postgraduate education, also meet the standard for registration as a registered nurse with the NMBA.

Those with only a diploma qualification from these countries will require assessment of their further education and work experience to determine if they are equivalent to an Australian qualified practitioner.

Nurses and midwives with qualifications from countries not listed above will require individual assessment to determine whether the qualification is equivalent and therefore will be recognised by the board.

To be registered to practise, regardless of the country of qualification, all practitioners must meet the board’s registration standards – English language skills, recency of practice, professional indemnity insurance, criminal history checks and continuing professional development.

While applications may now be processing, one nurse told Nursing Review APHRA was still providing confusing advice.

“Each time I call I get a different answer. Do I meet the requirements or not? It’s very stressful and frustrating,” she said.

“We are told that Australia welcomes overseas nurses, but this is not being shown.”

A spokesperson for AHPRA said nurses and students should regularly check the website www.nursingmidwiferyboard.gov.au for regular updates.

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