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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury



Nursing roles and responsibilities are always changing to make sure that people get high-quality care and better health. The kind of job a nurse does depends on their level of training, qualifications and expertise.

What nurses do

Registered nurse

Most nurses in New Zealand are registered nurses (RNs). They work independently as well as with other medical professionals. They:

Practice nurse

Practice nurses are registered nurses who work in your general practice or health centre. They work in your community to plan nursing care, deliver treatment and provide you and your whānau (family) with health education.

Clinical nurse specialist

Clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) are expert nurses with special skills and knowledge in one clinical area. They usually have many years of experience and are often the main person you'll talk to. They provide:

Clinical nurse specialists can prescribe some medications for conditions in their clinical area.

Nurse practitioner

Nurse practitioners are highly skilled registered nurses with advanced education and clinical training. Nurse practitioners work both in hospitals and the community. You may see a nurse practitioner instead of a GP. A nurse practitioner can refer you to a specialist and consult with a GP if necessary.

Nurse practitioners can prescribe some medications.

This video by the Ministry of Health’s acting Chief Nursing Officer Dr Jill Clendon tells you more about what a nurse practitioner does.

District nurse

District nurses (DNs) are registered nurses who work in the community. They:

Plunket nurse

Plunket nurses are registered nurses with extra professional qualifications who work in your community. They work with whānau with children from birth up to the age of five to promote health and prevent illnesses.

Public health nurse

Public health nurses are based in the community. They have a broad range of roles supporting children, young people and their whānau. They visit schools and homes, providing support, education and connection to the health system. They're also involved in community vaccination programmes.

School nurse

School nurses provide on-site and free healthcare to students in secondary schools. They're experienced in all areas of youth health including emotional wellbeing, physical and sexual health.

Enrolled nurse

Enrolled nurses (ENs) work in your community, homes and hospitals. They're supervised by a registered nurse or nurse practitioner. They:


Anyone working as a nurse in New Zealand must:

To renew their certificate every year, a nurse must prove:

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed June 2021.


Page reference: 620107

Review key: HISNY-105442