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Returning to Practice

Summary of return to practising register requirements

This information is for:
  • pharmacists on the register with a status of non-practising who want to return to a practising status. Note, Pharmacists who have retained their New Zealand registration while practising overseas will have a non-practising status.
  • pharmacists who were previously registered in New Zealand but are no longer on the NZ register and who now want to practise as a pharmacist in New Zealand. Note that "practising" refers to the pharmacist Scope of Practice.  
The Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 (HPCA) requires pharmacists to be registered and hold a current Annual Practising Certificate (APC) in order to be able to practise. Practising without being registered and holding an APC is an offence, even if practising under supervision.

The Registrar may issue an APC to a registered pharmacist upon receipt of the following:
  • Completion of the appropriate application forms
  • Payment of fees.
The information you will need to provide with the application includes -
  • details of your work history relating to your pharmacy practice in NZ and overseas
  • when you last practised in New Zealand
  • how you have maintained your competence in your area of practice
  • a record of any additional pharmacy qualifications and courses which are relevant to pharmacy practice
Depending on when and where you last practised as a pharmacist, you may be issued an APC with conditions.  Upon successful completion of all the returning to the practising register requirements an unconditional APC will be issued.

Before you apply for an Annual Practising Certificate (APC)

If you have been practising in other country(ies) since you were last registered in New Zealand you need to contact the Registration Authorities in all the countries you practised in to arrange for Letters of Good Standing to be sent to us. These must be received by the Pharmacy Council of New Zealand before your application can be processed.

The principal purpose of the HPCA Act 2003 is to protect the health and safety of members of the public by providing for mechanisms to ensure that pharmacists are competent and fit to practise the profession of pharmacy. While you may have previously been deemed competent to practise as a pharmacist in New Zealand, this may no longer be the case because of your circumstances. The Pharmacy Council of NZ will therefore require details of your practice and on-going continuing professional development since you last practised as a pharmacist.

If you were previously registered (with the Pharmacy Council of NZ or under the Pharmacy Act 1970) and are now considering reinstatement to the practising register, you should be aware that any conditions on your scope of practice at the time registration was cancelled would be part of the conditions on your scope of practice until such time as the conditions were varied or cancelled by the Pharmacy Council of NZ.

Practising under supervision

As part of the return to practice requirements, you may need to practise under the supervision of a New Zealand registered practising pharmacist. This pharmacist must meet the Pharmacy Council requirements for supervising pharmacists.

Supervision includes the monitoring and reporting on your performance whilst under supervision. After an initial period of direct supervision, the level of supervision should be determined by your supervising pharmacist in consultation with you. This must be at a level that ensures you are safe to practise whilst allowing you to gain experience in all relevant areas of practice. The level of supervision can be further reviewed and modified on an as-required basis.

Returning to practise in a role that does not involve direct-patient care

If you wish to return to a role that does not involve direct patient care, you do not need to complete supervision in a community or hospital pharmacy. However, you must also apply for a change in your scope to limit your practise to this role. This limitation will remain on your scope until you complete further requirements.

Explanation of Direct Patient Care

The scope of practice for pharmacists defines the activities that fall under the scope, and practice is wider than working directly with patients. 
For the purpose of returning to practise to provide services that do not involve ‘direct patient care', the option for a change in the authorisation of the scope, (and exemption from supervision in a community or hospital pharmacy), is generally not available for pharmacists that are managing direct patient care services or providing advice that directly influence patient care. 
If the Pharmacy Council authorises a change to the scope of practice of a pharmacist, limiting his/her practise to roles and services that do not involve direct patient care, this pharmacist is not permitted to:
  • Work in a pharmacy as a pharmacist, or work under supervision as a pharmacist, unless a condition of supervision is set by the Pharmacy Council
  • Work as a pharmacist on an occasional basis
  • Provide information related to medicines use to patients, their relatives, whānau or representative or health care providers, whether regulated or unregulated, in the course of providing patient care as a pharmacist, or
  • Be the manager of a pharmacy, or the pharmacy licence holder
The Registrar will consider making an exemption, on a case by case basis, where patient safety is not compromised and the intent of this statement is upheld.

Returning to Practice Requirements

A description of the categories for Returning to Practice and the requirements for each category are outlined in the Pharmacy Council Return to Practice Policy.

For further information and to request the Return to Practice forms, please contact the Registrations Officer.