Fact sheet: Provisional registration information for nurses and midwives

Download a PDF copy of this Fact sheet: Provisional registration: Information for nurses and midwives (PDF, 289KB).

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 standards, codes and guidelines which together establish the requirements for the professional and safe practice of nurses and midwives in Australia.

This fact sheet addresses common queries that you might have about provisional registration, and the requirements for previously registered nurses and/or midwives applying for this type of registration. It should be read in combination with the Policy for re-entry to practice for nurses and midwives.

Provisional registration is granted to eligible practitioners to enable them to complete a period of supervised practice or an NMBA approved re-entry to practice program. The requirements are set out in restrictions applied to the registration.

Nurses and/or midwives holding provisional registration for supervised practice must comply with the requirements and responsibilities specified in the NMBA Supervision guidelines for nursing and midwifery. When the requirements of the supervised practice or re-entry to practice program restrictions have been met, the practitioner is eligible to apply for general registration.

The provisional registration period is for 12 months and starts when the NMBA makes the decision. Renewal occurs on the anniversary of the initial registration date, noting that provisional registration may not be renewed more than twice.

This type of registration is for those who have not practised as a nurse or midwife for between five and 10 years and

  • have previously held registration in Australia, and
  • do not hold current registration, and
  • are now seeking to re-enter practice.

If you hold general or non-practising registration or have not practiced for a period of 10 years or more, please refer to the NMBA Policy: Re-entry to practice for nurses and midwives for further guidance.

The Application for provisional registration for re-entry to practice – APRO-40 is available from the NMBA website.

The application form and required documentation collect information about your qualifications, work and registration history, continuing professional development activities, and length of time away from practising in the profession/s. The information collected is used to determine whether you require any additional training, periods of supervision or other requirements to meet eligibility for general registration.

The NMBA considers two types of applicants who have not practised for between five and 10 years:

  • those who provide documentary evidence to confirm competence and knowledge and need to consolidate and confirm existing knowledge through supervised practice, and
  • those who are unable to demonstrate that they have maintained competence and current knowledge and should be directed to complete a re-entry to practice program.

All applications are assessed on their merits by the NMBA, who must be satisfied that you are safe and competent to practise the profession/s in Australia. Examples of evidence that should be provided with your application are in Table 1.

Table 1: Evidence examples 

 Evidence required  Examples and cues
Initial and subsequent qualifications
  • Documentary evidence of the qualification that entitled you to initial registration in your profession. This may have been completed at university, through a registered training authority such as TAFE, or you may have completed hospital-based training.
  • Documentary evidence of any additional qualifications gained that have relevance to your nursing and/or midwifery practice. This may be post-graduate study in your area of practice. 
  • Any other formal qualifications that developed your professional skills and knowledge.
Continuing professional development and connection to the profession
  • Documentary evidence of professional development courses, study, conferences or reading that demonstrates maintenance, improvement and broadening of knowledge, expertise and competence. This could be presented as a portfolio of evidence and may include ongoing memberships with professional organisations or colleges, where ongoing learning and/or an active role can be evidenced.
Extent of nursing and/or midwifery work/practice
(paid or unpaid/voluntary)
  • Statement/s of service from each employer/s that includes the position held, the number of hours worked (full-time/part-time), and how the roles/s involved the application of nursing and/or midwifery practice. The statements of service must:
    • be on the employer’s letterhead
    • contain your name
    • the position/role held
    • contain details of service including:
      • the date that you commenced and finished working in the position
      • whether the work was full-time, part-time or a combination. If any of the work has been part-time, provide details of full-time equivalent worked.
  • Detail of your role, particularly where the title of the position does not include ‘nurse’ or ‘midwife’.
  • A position description can be useful to demonstrate that the role involved the use of nursing and/or midwifery knowledge.
  • Submit the standards for practice mapping template, to demonstrate how you have met the nursing and/or midwifery standards for practice since your last nursing or midwifery position.

The timeframe for the assessment is determined by the completeness of your application and the complexity of the assessment. While your application is being assessed, it will progress through several stages:

  • Stage 1: Your application will be reviewed, and further information may be requested. Only when your application is complete will it progress to the next stage of assessment. 
  • Stage 2: Your application will be assessed and may need review by a Professional Officer for Nursing and Midwifery. Please note further documents may be requested at this stage. 
  • Stage 3: Your application will be forwarded to the next available meeting of the relevant Board/Committee. Please note that meetings may only take place once a month and deadlines for sending applications to the meetings are a few weeks prior to the meeting. 
  • Stage 4: Within 30 days of the Board/Committee meeting, you will be advised of the proposed outcome. 
  • Stage 5: You may choose to accept the proposed outcome, and your application will be progressed, or 
  • Stage 6: You may choose, within 30 days from the date of the notice, to provide a submission (a response) to the proposal. If you make a submission about the proposed outcome, your submission will be reconsidered by the Board/Committee for a final decision.

Your application for provisional registration must be approved prior to commencing practice and for the duration of your supervised placement or re-entry to practice program.

The NMBA will let you know the level of supervision, commencing at Level 1 – direct supervision, progressing to Level 2 – indirect supervision (see definitions). It is a requirement that you work under the supervision of your principal supervisor or, in their absence, your secondary supervisor (as per the supervision agreement). In the absence of any approved supervisor, you must cease practice.

Table 2 provides an overview of the documents and reporting requirements for supervised practice.

Table 2: Timelines and requirements  
 Timeline  Requirements
1. Prior to commencing practice

Submit to AHPRA

2. Following receipt of approval for supervision arrangements

Within 14 days of commencing practice

3. Reporting requirements 

After a minimum of 75 hours of direct supervision:

  • Submit first Supervisor’s formative report/s 
  • Submit ongoing formative reports until progression to indirect supervision is indicated
  • When achieved, submit formative report confirming progression to indirect supervision.1

Within 14 days of achieving competence against the relevant Standards for practice and meeting the requirements of the restrictions:

The practitioner is eligible to lodge an application for general registration.

Inform the NMBA within 7 days:

1Where the supervisor’s formative evaluation report is that the nurse or midwife’s performance warrants a change in the level of supervision, this can occur without waiting for acknowledgement from AHPRA.

For re-entry to practice and prior to commencing a re-entry to practice program, an acceptance letter from the approved re-entry to practice program provider must be submitted to AHPRA.

A nurse and/or midwife holding provisional registration must:

  • meet the requirements of the Registration standard: Continuing professional development
  • not practice the profession unless appropriate professional indemnity insurance arrangements are in place
  • participate in a prescribed program of supervised practice as set out in the Supervision guidelines for nursing and midwifery or as determined by the NMBA, and
  • undertake an examination or assessment approved by the NMBA, when required by the NMBA.

Connection to the profession: demonstrated with evidence of professional development courses, study, conferences or reading that demonstrates maintenance, improvement and broadening of knowledge, expertise and competence. This may include on-going memberships with professional organisations or colleges, where ongoing learning and/or an active role can be evidenced.

Recency of practice: a health practitioner has maintained an adequate connection with, and recent practice in, the profession since qualifying or obtaining registration.

Re-entry to practice program: a program of study accredited by the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council (ANMAC) and approved by the NMBA as preparation for nurses and midwives for re-entry to the register. This may be after a lapse in practice and/or removal from the register for a period exceeding the requirement in the Registration standard: Recency of practice. It contains both a theoretical and a clinical experience component.

Supervised practice: a period of practice under supervision. It is a formal process of professional support and learning which allows a nurse and/or midwife (supervisee) to develop knowledge and competence, assume responsibility for their own practice and enhance public protection and safety. Supervision may be direct or indirect according to the nature of context under which the practice is being supervised. It is the responsibility of the nurse/midwife to arrange a placement that meets the requirements of the NMBA for re-entry to practice, including that:

  • the practice setting must give the maximum opportunity to demonstrate the full spectrum of the respective standards for practice
  • the supervisor meets the minimum requirements listed in the Supervision guidelines for nurses and midwives
  • the nurse/midwife will not engage with an employment agency for supervised practice, and
  • the NMBA does not allow for supervision in private practice (where a nurse or midwife is working as sole practitioner, in partnership or in self-employed models or working on their own account).   

Levels of supervision

 Level  Summary Specifications Proposed reporting frequency for level2  Example of possible use for level of supervision3

Direct supervision

The supervisor takes direct and principal responsibility for the nursing or midwifery care provided (e.g. assessment and/or treatment of individual patients/clients)

The supervisor must be physically present at the workplace, observing at all times when the supervisee is providing clinical care, according to the supervised practice plan.

Supervision by telephone is indirect and not permitted.

The supervisee must consult with the supervisor about the nursing or midwifery care before delivering the care.

Report after initial 75 hours, and then at three-monthly interval/s, while the supervisee is on Level 1 supervision
Before progressing to level 2 supervision.

As the highest level of supervision, this level may be used:

  • to determine the level of competence of the nurse and/or midwife and inform further levels of supervision under a supervised practice plan, or
  • in a supervised practice plan arising from a health, conduct or performance matter.

Indirect supervision

The supervisor and supervisee share the responsibility for individual patients.

The supervisor is easily contactable and is available to observe and discuss the nursing or midwifery care the supervisee is delivering.

According to the supervised practice plan, the supervisor must be physically present at the workplace (unit/clinic/ward) for the majority of time when the supervisee is providing clinical care.

The supervisee must inform the supervisor at agreed intervals about the management of each patient; this may be after delivering care.

If the approved supervisor is temporarily absent during any day, then the supervisor must make appropriate arrangements for alternative supervision, to provide temporary oversight.

Ideally a secondary supervisor on the supervisee’s supervision agreement will provide such temporary supervision.

Reports after an initial one-month period, and then at three-monthly intervals, unless set out otherwise in the Supervised practice plan (or restrictions of registration).

This level may be used:

  • for provisional registration for teaching when clinical practice is also being undertaken
  • for provisional registration for postgraduate training or supervised practice
  • in a supervised practice plan arising from a health, conduct or performance matter.

2 This refers to the usual reporting frequency for re-entry to practice but may be modified by the supervised practice plan. The NMBA or the supervisor may, at any time, exercise its discretion to ask to for/provide a report.
3 This lists the typical use of a supervision level. The NMBA may, at any time, exercise its discretion to determine the supervision level.

Page reviewed 11/02/2019