New entry to specialist practice: mental health and addiction nursing

This programme is for new graduate and registered nurses entering mental health and addiction nursing. The programme combines theory, supported clinical experience, clinical preceptorship and supervision.

Nurses on the new entry to specialist practice (NESP): mental health and addiction nursing programme develop their professional practice and mental health and addiction nursing skills. Nurses receive a Postgraduate Certificate in Mental Health and Addiction Nursing.

Supporting NGO nurses to access and complete the programme

Each year Skills Matter reserves a number of funded positions nationally for nurses employed as a nurse by NGOs. These are located on a regional basis in the first instance.

The programme is highly structured and new graduate nurses need a good level of support from employers. To help NGOs understand the level of support required, we’ve outlined the programme requirements and recommendations for best practice. If you are from a primary health organisation these recommendations also apply to you but we suggest you contact us or a local programme provider to discuss your situation.

How to apply

New graduates nurses wishing to apply for a position at a DHB must apply through the Advanced Choice of Employment scheme

Eligibility and entry requirements

New graduates or nurses new to mental health and addiction, employed by a DHB or NGO mental health and addiction service, or in a mental health role in a PHO, can apply for this programme.

  • Applicants must be a New Zealand citizen or hold a residency permit.
  • Applicants must meet the requirements of the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 (HPCA Act) and have a current Nursing Council of New Zealand Practising Certificate.
  • Applicants must be supported by their DHB or organisation to take part in the programme.
  • Existing nurses new to mental health will normally be working full-time or at least 0.6 full time equivalent (24 hours a week) within publicly funded mental health and addiction services.
  • New graduate nurses must be working a minimum of 0.7 full time equivalent (28 hours a week).
  • Participants must meet the training provider's criteria for eligibility to study at this level.

Programme details

The NESP: mental health and addiction nursing programme involves days or blocks of classroom teaching, online and self-directed learning, workplace learning within the clinical setting, clinical preceptorship and supervision.

For more information on the programme content and entry criteria refer to the programme service specifications.

Programme providers

University of Auckland
DHB regions: Northland, Auckland, Counties Manukau, Waikato, Lakes, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, Tairawhiti, South Canterbury and Southern

Whitireia Community Polytechnic  
DHB regions: Wairarapa, Hutt Valley, Capital and Coast, Hawke's Bay, Mid Central, Whanganui and Nelson/Marlborough

Waitemata DHB
DHB region: Waitemata

Canterbury DHB   
DHB region: Canterbury and West Coast

Support available 

Skills Matter funding covers all course fees. Nurses on the programme receive:

  • a minimum 20 hours professional supervision over the year with an experienced practitioner
  • access to a preceptor at all times, provided by the employer
  • time away from the clinical setting (in addition to rostered days off) to attend formal learning.  

Some travel and accommodation assistance is available for nurses who work 100km or more away from the nearest Skills Matter funded provider. However this might not meet all of the nurse’s travel and accommodation costs and this should be considered before applying.

Academic advice

Jane Barrington, University of Auckland

Peter Blake, Waitemata District Health Board
Nurse educator, phone 09 487 1419 or 021 1498 174

Wendy Trimmer, Whitireia Community Polytechnic
Academic leader, phone 04 237 3100 ext 3209

Gail Houston, Canterbury District Health Board
Nurse educator/programme coordinator, phone 03 337 7969 ext 33717 or 027 229 8241