Nurse Practitioners

This page contains a range of information about nurse practitioners and is relevant to nurse practitioners, nurses, students, medical practitioners, other health professionals and consumers.

Page last updated: 07 December 2012

A nurse practitioner is a registered nurse educated and authorised to function autonomously and collaboratively in an advanced and extended clinical role.
(Australian Nursing and Midwifery Advisory Council).

The term 'nurse practitioner' should not be confused with the term 'practice nurse'. A practice nurse is an enrolled nurse or a registered nurse (including nurse practitioners) who is employed by, or whose services are otherwise retained by, a general practice.

What do I need to do to become a nurse practitioner?
What do I need to do to register myself as a nurse practitioner?
Is there any assistance available to study to become a nurse practitioner?
How do I find employment as a nurse practitioner?
What does health reform mean for nurse practitioners?
How do I know if a nurse practitioner is registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia?

What do I need to do to become a nurse practitioner?

To work as a nurse practitioner in Australia you must be endorsed as a nurse practitioner by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia.

To be eligible for this endorsement, you must be able to demonstrate all the following:

  1. general registration as a registered nurse with no restrictions on practice;
  2. advanced nursing practice in a clinical leadership role in the area of practice in which you intend to practise as a nurse practitioner, within the past five years, complemented by research, education and management;
  3. competence in the competency standards for nurse practitioners approved by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia; and
  4. completion of the requisite qualification determined by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia.

A list of courses approved to provide the qualification required to be endorsed as a nurse practitioner is located at the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia website

What do I need to do to register myself as a nurse practitioner?

Registration for nurse practitioners is the responsibility of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia. The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia replaced the previous state and territory nursing and midwifery boards on 1 July 2010 as part of the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme for health professions.

The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia operates as an independent authority and their functions include:

  • overseeing the registration of practitioners;
  • development of professional standards, codes and guidelines;
  • handling of notifications and complaints in relation to the profession;
  • assessing overseas trained practitioners who wish to practice in Australia; and
  • approving accreditation standards and courses of study.
  • Registration requirements for nurse practitioners can be found at the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia website.

Is there any assistance available to study to become a nurse practitioner?

The Nursing and Allied Health Scholarship and Support Scheme is an Australian Government initiative supporting students who are commencing, or intending to commence, an accredited nursing course at an Australian university or registered training organisation that provides them with the ability to register with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia. This includes scholarships for registered nurses to undertake a Masters Degree in nurse practitioner studies.

The Supporting a Professional Aged Care Workforce program provides scholarships for registered nurses in the aged care sector while studying courses leading to endorsement as a nurse practitioner. These scholarships provide financial assistance of up to $15,000 a year up to a maximum of $30,000.

Information about these scholarships, including eligible courses, value of scholarships and application dates can be found at Australian College of Nursing website:

How do I find employment as a nurse practitioner?

Currently, the majority of nurse practitioners are employed by state and territory governments in acute care settings. The process to employ a nurse practitioner in the public sector varies across states and territories. To seek employment in the public sector, you will need to contact the relevant state or territory health department.

Nurse practitioners may also be employed in a private setting, either as an employee or in their own practice. With the implementation of nurse practitioner access to the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), it is anticipated that nurse practitioners will play a greater role in the future primary health care system. Nurse practitioners have the opportunity to develop innovative practice models that can be tailored to meet individual and local needs.

What does health reform mean for nurse practitioners?

The Australian Government recognises the vital role nurse practitioners play in the nation's health and hospitals system. This role has been recognised within the Government's health reform agenda. Under the health reforms, nurse practitioners will have an even greater role in delivering patient care. The Government is investing national initiatives that will increase the number of nurse practitioners and ensure they receive the training and support they need.

As part of health reforms, nurse practitioners will be working in hospitals with higher performance standards to support and contribute to:

  • a four-hour National Access Target for emergency departments;
  • an increased numbers of sub-acute care beds; and
  • reduced waiting times for elective surgery.

The 2009-10 Budget also included funding to allow eligible nurse practitioners’ access to the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). This initiative aims to support improved access to primary health care services and promotes multidisciplinary team-based approaches to health care. The funding also supports a greater role for nurse practitioners in non-acute settings, including the areas of primary care, aged care and in rural and remote Australia.

Information on how nurse practitioners and midwives can apply for access to the MBS and PBS is located on the Medicare Australia website.

Further information on nurse practitioners' and midwives' access to the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS).

Further information on nurse practitioners' and midwives' access to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

How do I know if a nurse practitioner is registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia?

The Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency maintains a publicly accessible national register of nurses registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, including any conditions or restrictions on professional practice.

The register also identifies if the health practitioner has an endorsement to practice as a nurse practitioner. This register can be found at:
Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency website.



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