Updated May 2023
Download a PDF copy of the Fact sheet: Registered nurses with a sole qualification in mental health nursing, paediatric nursing and disability nursing (253 KB,PDF).
The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) undertakes functions as set by the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory (the National Law). The NMBA regulates the practice of nursing and midwifery in Australia, and one of its key roles is to protect the public. The NMBA does this by developing registration standards, professional codes, guidelines and standards for practice which together establish the requirements for the professional and safe practice of nurses and midwives in Australia.
This following information is applicable for registered nurses with a sole qualification in mental health, paediatric nursing or disability nursing.
Before the commencement of the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (the National Scheme), each state and territory used a different approach for the registration of nurses with a sole qualification in mental health nursing, paediatric nursing or disability nursing. As a result, registrants with a sole qualification in one of these three areas of nursing, transitioned differently into the National Scheme leading to variations in how registrant details were displayed on the national register.
In 2012, the NMBA introduced changes to notations to ensure that registered nurses with similar qualifications and expertise in mental health nursing, paediatric nursing or disability nursing hold the same registration type for consistency but the scope of their foundational education is clearly highlighted.
Registered nurses (RN) who have a sole qualification in mental health, disability or paediatric nursing do not have a qualification that is substantially equivalent to an NMBA-approved qualification leading to registration as a registered nurse.
Depending on their area of practice, RNs with one of these qualifications are registered with a notation stating that they are:
Qualifications solely in mental health, paediatric or disability nursing can only be obtained internationally, as there are no longer programs of study approved in Australia for nurses to gain these types of qualifications.
Notations are used by National Boards to describe and explain the scope of a practitioner’s practice by noting the limitations on practice. In this situation the NMBA use the notation to indicate limitations of the practitioner’s foundational education and therefore on their practice.
No, a notation is not an indication of any concern about your performance or ability as an RN. Notations are used to provide relevant information to employers and the public on an individual’s registration status, in these circumstances the area in which they are qualified.
If you hold general registration with a sole qualification notation, you will first need to complete an NMBA-approved program of study leading to general registration as a registered nurse before you can expand your scope of practice beyond the area of practice in which you hold the notation. Additionally, you will need to ensure that you have the appropriate education and experience to work in a different area of practice.
The NMBA expects that nurses and midwives recognise and work within their scope of practice which is determined by their foundational education, training, authorisation, competence, qualifications and experience, in accordance with local policy1.
1 Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia - Code of conduct for nurses 1 March 2018 - 2.2(e)
If you hold general registration with a sole qualification notation, you will first need to complete an NMBA-approved program of study leading to general registration as a registered nurse and apply to the NMBA to have the notation removed. You will then need complete an Application for removal of notation form APRN-40.
Additional information relating relevant to internationally qualified registered nurses (IQRNs) seeking registration with a sole qualification in mental health, paediatric or disability nursing can be found in the following fact sheet:.