We may sometimes use terms you won't be familiar with. Find out here what they mean.
Types of registration
General scope of practice
A type of registration. A doctor who has completed the requirements of the Provisional General scope of practice can then be registered within the General scope of practice. Examples are doctors who have completed their first post-graduate year and may be in vocational training, and doctors who have not yet started, or have chosen not to do, vocational training.
"General scope of practice" does not mean the doctor is working in general practice. General Practice is a specialty area of practice. Doctors registered in the General scope of practice can work in any area of medicine. They are required to participate in an approved recertification programme to assist them in maintaining their competence.
Provisional General scope of practice
A type of registration. All doctors seeking registration in the General scope of practice, regardless of seniority, must work under supervision approved by us for at least 6 to 12 months to become familiar with New Zealand practice and culture.
During the supervised period, these doctors are registered within the Provisional General scope of practice and their performance is assessed by their supervisor approved by us, in collaboration with senior colleagues. They will be required to complete certain requirements to be eligible for registration within the General scope.
The only exception to this supervised period is for New Zealand and Australian graduates who have already completed their internship in Australia.
Provisional Vocational scope of practice
A type of registration. A doctor who has completed their formal vocational training overseas, and whose qualifications, training and experience are considered either equivalent to, or as satisfactory as, that of a New Zealand-trained specialist may obtain Provisional Vocational registration. They must work under supervision for at least 6 to 18 months and complete our requirements for registration in a vocational scope. Those requirements may include undertaking some form(s) of assessment.
Vocational scope of practice
A type of registration. A doctor who has completed their vocational training as a specialist and has appropriate qualifications and experience can be registered within a vocational scope of practice.
This form of registration recognises the doctor as a specialist and allows them to work independently in New Zealand. A doctor registered in a vocational scope must participate in an approved recertification programme to assist them in maintaining their competence.
A doctor suspended from practising by us or by the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal.
Holds a practising certificate/Practising
A register status. Indicates the doctor has a current practising certificate and is permitted to practise medicine in New Zealand.
A register status. Indicates a doctor has a current practising certificate and is permitted to practise medicine in New Zealand, but has advised us they are not currently practising.
A register status. Indicates a doctor does not hold a current practising certificate and is not practising medicine in New Zealand.
A - Accreditation to Australasian qualification
Accreditation of medical schools
We, jointly with the Australian Medical Council, review university medical school courses to ensure they give graduates the skills and knowledge required to practise medicine competently.
Accreditation of medical recertification programmes
Accreditation is the process used to approve the college recertification programmes that doctors participate in to ensure that they continue to be competent to practise within the scopes of practice in which they are registered.
An affidavit is a formal sworn / affirmed statement of fact by an official such as a lawyer or notary public.
Approved medical qualification
The approved medical qualification is a recognised primary medical qualification or postgraduate medical qualification, that we consider suitable for registration in some of the scopes of practice.
A qualification awarded by an Australasian or New Zealand medical college.
B - No results
C - Certificate of registration to credentialing
Certificate of registration
A letter confirming the registration status of a doctor who is registered with us or has been registered in the past.
Certificate of professional status (COPS)
A COPS confirms a doctor's registration and whether there are any current notifications, investigations, or disciplinary action. It is different from certificate of registration, as it provides details of current or recent practice-related investigations or concerns. These are sometimes known as "certificates of good standing".
A person who is legally able to certify and witness original documents such as a Justice of the Peace (JP).
Chief medical officer (CMO)
A doctor who is the liaison person between the clinical and administrative professions and the medical functions of the DHBs.
A systematic process used to assess, evaluate and improve the care and health of by objectively measuring performance against standards and if needed making recommendations for change.
Means any work undertaken by a doctor that relates to the care of an individual patient.
Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers' Rights (The Code)
The Code offers a number of rights to all patients and health consumers of health and disability services in New Zealand. It also places obligations on providers of those services.
A doctor might need to establish a collegial relationship with another doctor. Its purpose is to ensure that the doctor’s professional development plan (PDP) and continuing professional development (CPD) activities are appropriate for the area of medicine they are working in.
Comparable health system
A country that we have assessed as having a health system and structure comparable to that in New Zealand for the purposes of registration in the provisional general and General scopes of practice.
We define the standard of competence expected of a doctor as the knowledge, skills, attitudes and judgement to practise within his or her scope to a standard acceptable to reasonable peers.
Competence or conduct disclosure
Anything a doctor tells us about a criminal investigation, professional or work-related disciplinary proceeding, investigation by the Health and Disability Commissioner, or investigation by an employer or a professional body into the doctor's competence or conduct.
We recognise the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland as competent authorities for the purposes of registration in the provisional general and General scopes of practice.
Conditions on scope of practice
A condition is a legal requirement that a doctor must do something or cannot do something, or otherwise comply with other set requirements, as part of their medical practice.
Consultant (see also Specialist)
Titles commonly used by senior doctors, with a particular expertise or working in a specialist area of medicine. that is interchangeable and has certain special responsibilities.
Continuing medical education (CME)
Part of continuing professional development (CPD).
Continuing professional development (CPD)
CPD is a mechanism for doctors to cover the range of learning activities through which doctors maintain and develop the knowledge, skills and performance required for safe and appropriate practice in the relevant scope of practice. This occurs through a range of learning and reflection activities that form part of a recertification programme.
An individual who agrees to provide assistance and guidance to a doctor, relating to that doctor’s practice and relevant CPD.
A process used to assign specific clinical responsibilities to doctors on the basis of their training, qualifications, experience and current practice within an organisational context.
D - Disclosure to domains of competence
See competence or conduct disclosure, or health disclosure.
Domains of competence
The public and the profession expect doctors to be competent in the following areas: medical care, communication, collaboration, scholarship, professionalism. More information about domains of competence can be found in our publication, Good medical practice [PDF, 548 KB].
E - Educational programme
Educational programme to educational supervision
A programme ordered by Council to assist a doctor increase their competence in areas of practice where Council has found the doctor is not at the required standard.
Educational supervision is provided by a senior doctor practising in the same scope of practice as a doctor participating in a competence programme. The supervisor oversees the doctor’s educational activities and has a facilitative and supportive role.
A qualification awarded by Australasian and New Zealand medical colleges after a doctor completes a vocational training programme.
Functions required for the practice of medicine
Council defines these functions as:
• making safe judgements
• demonstrating the level of skill and knowledge required for safe practice
• not risking infecting patients with whom the doctor comes in contact
• behaving appropriately
• not acting in ways that impact adversely on patient safety.
Fit to practise/Fitness to practise
A doctor is considered not fit to practise if, because of a physical or mental condition, he or she is not able to perform the functions required for the practice of medicine.
G - Gazette Notice
Gazette Notice / New Zealand Gazette
An official document issued by the New Zealand government with any changes to scopes of practice or fees.
H - Health disclosure to house officer
Health disclosure (physical and mental)
Anything a doctor tells us about a physical or mental condition they may have. Disclosures will be reviewed by our health team to ensure that the doctor is fit to practise medicine.
Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act (HPCAA) 2003
The legislation that establishes the Council and sets its powers and functions. It is designed to protect the health and safety of the New Zealand public by ensuring that health practitioners including doctors are competent and fit to practice within their professions.
Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal
The Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal hears and determines disciplinary proceedings brought against all health practitioners including doctors.
House officer (Intern)
A doctor during their first two years of employment following their registration. Applies to graduates of Australian or New Zealand medical schools and graduates of NZREX clinical examination.
I - Individual supervision plans to International Medical Graduate (IMG)
Individual supervision plans
Supervision is a requirement of registration for all doctors in New Zealand who are registered in a provisional general scope, provisional vocational scope or special purpose scope. Other than PGY1 doctors, they are required to practise within an approved supervision plan.
Induction is the familiarisation of systems and processes of the worksite and the individual service of departments.
A PGY1 or PGY2 doctor who has graduated from an accredited New Zealand or Australian medical school or a doctor who has passed the NZREX Clinical. An intern is usually employed as a house officer and may be referred to as: an intern, a house surgeon, a house officer, a resident medical officer (RMO).
International medical graduate (IMG)
A doctor who obtained their primary medical qualification in a country other than New Zealand. Sometimes called an overseas-trained doctor.
J - No results
K - No results
L - No results
M - Medical college to medical register
A membership organisation for Fellows of that medical specialty or specialties, as well as the vocational training provider for the specialty or specialties.
Medical college interview (provisional vocational registration)
As part of an application for registration in a provisional vocational scope of practice, an interview that enables a medical college to obtain information on the doctor's qualifications, training and experience. Following the interview, the college provides us advice on whether an IMG’s qualifications, training and experience are either equivalent to, or as satisfactory as, those of a New Zealand vocationally-trained medical practitioner registered in the same vocational scope of practice.
Medical officer/Medical Officer of Specialist Scale (MOSS)/Staff Grade
A non-training position for a doctor who has not yet specialised or not yet gained a postgraduate qualification, or an international medical graduate who has a postgraduate qualification from overseas but is not eligible, from an employers’ perspective, for a consultant role because they do not meet the requirements for a vocational scope of practice.
Another doctor appointed by to Council due to discipline or health matters to help and support the doctor.
The medical register is a public register of all doctors currently registered to practise medicine. The information published in the register includes a doctor's name, qualifications, scope of practice and any conditions on their practice. The register also indicates whether a doctor holds a current practising certificate and can legally practise.
N - Non-clinical practice to NZREX Clinical
Any work undertaken by a doctor that does not relate to the care of an individual patient.
New Zealand Registration Examination (NZREX) Clinical
The NZREX Clinical assesses IMGs who are not eligible for any other registration pathway, to decide if they meet the standard to be registered in New Zealand.
O - Orientation to overseas-trained doctor
Orientation is an introduction and overview to medical practice and health systems in New Zealand, including cultural competence, an understanding of the Treaty of Waitangi, relevant organisations, and impact of legislation such as the Accident Compensation Corporation.
Overseas postgraduate medical qualification
An overseas postgraduate medical qualification is required for an overseas doctor to apply for registration in a provisional vocational scope of practice in New Zealand. The qualification must have been awarded at the end of a period of specialist training and be in a recognised vocational scope/area of medicine.
Overseas trained doctor (OTD)
See international medical graduate (IMG).
P - Patient advocates to propose to decline
Independent advocates or support people who help patients and health consumers to make sure that their rights are respected.
An evaluation of the performance of individuals or groups of practitioners by members of the same profession or team. It may be formal or informal and can include any occasion in which doctors are in learning situations about their own practice with other colleagues.
Peer review discussion group
A group of doctors who systematically review aspects of an individual doctor’s work to give guidance and feedback on the doctor’s performance.
We define performance as practising to a standard acceptable to reasonable peers and to the community. This includes making safe judgements, demonstrating the level of skill and knowledge required for safe practice, behaving appropriately and acting in a way that does not impact adversely on patient safety within all domains of medical practice.
This is an assessment ordered by us to determine whether a doctor has the necessary skills, judgement, attitude and knowledge to practise medicine in their scope of practice and meets the required standard of competence. Also known as a competence review or assessment.
Performance assessment committee (PAC)
A PAC consists of two doctors, usually from the same medical discipline and one lay member, and is set up by Council to carry out a performance assessment.
Postgraduate medical qualification
Is a specialist qualification, completed after a doctor is awarded their primary medical qualification, after completing specialist training in an area of medicine.
Practice of medicine
We define the practice of medicine as advertising, holding out to the public, or representing in any manner that a person is authorised to practise medicine in New Zealand, the signing of any medical certificate, the prescribing of medicines and the assessing, diagnosing, treating, reporting or giving advice in a medical capacity.
The practice of medicine goes wider than clinical medicine, and includes teaching, research, medical or health management, in hospitals, clinics, general practices and community and institutional contexts, whether paid or voluntary.
A doctor who is registered and working within a recognised vocational scope of practice or the General scope of practice is able to practise independently and unsupervised.
Practising certificate (PC)
Every doctor must hold a current practising certificate to practise medicine in New Zealand.
A prescribed qualification is the specific registration criteria that someone must fulfil in order to be registered in a scope of practice via a registration pathway. It could be a medical qualification, passing of an examination, specific experience, or a combination of these.
Provides patients with their first point of contact with health services and medical care usually in a medical centre setting.
Primary medical qualification
The basic medical qualification awarded after a set period of education and training at a university medical school.
Propose to decline
Under the HPCAA, if we find an application for registration is not suitable to proceed we propose to decline the application. This gives the doctor an opportunity to respond to the reasons why we wish to decline the application.
Q - Qualifications, training and experience to quality assurance activity
Qualifications, training and experience
Relates to applications in a provisional vocational scope of practice from doctors who do not hold the approved postgraduate qualification. The combination of qualifications, training and experience are assessed to see if the combination is equivalent to or as satisfactory as a New Zealand vocationally-trained doctor registered in the same vocational scope of practice.
Quality assurance activity
Is an activity undertaken to improve the practices or competence of one or more doctors by assessing the health services performed by those doctors (whenever those services are, or were, performed).
R - Risk of serious harm to registration
Risk of serious harm
Is when an individual patient may be seriously harmed by a doctor or the doctor may pose a continued threat to more than one patient and as such the harm is collectively considered 'serious'.
Risk of harm
Is a pattern of practice over a period of time or single incident that suggests the doctor's practice of medicine may not meet the required standard of competence.
Resident medical officer (RMO) / Resident doctor
A term that covers house officers and registrars. RMOs or resident doctors may also be known as junior doctors in some countries.
Any doctor who has been approved or is eligible for registration needs to have a registration meeting to confirm their identity, their disclosures and declarations , and practising intentions.
Recertification is the process used to ensure doctors are competent to practise within the scope in which they are registered and practising.
Typically refers to the level of post a doctor holds when participating in a vocational training programme. Depending on experience, a doctor may be eligible to work as a registrar in their third year post graduation.
Alternatively, this may refer to Council’s Registrar, the individual appointed by Council under the HPCAA to carry out and implement the statutory decision-making of Council.
Registration is a term used to describe the process where doctors apply to be added to the New Zealand medical register.
S - Senior house officer to supervision
Senior house officer
A doctor who has already completed one year of employment post-graduation.
Scope of practice
All practising doctors in New Zealand are registered in one or more scopes of practice.
Statutory declarations made in front of a certifying official are used to confirm the identity, nationality, marital status of a doctor.
All doctors registered in a provisional general, provisional vocational or special purpose scope of practice (other than PGY1s) must submit three-monthly supervision reports to us.
Supervision of international medical graduates
Supervision is a requirement of registration for all new doctors in New Zealand. It enables the doctor's performance to be assessed to ensure the health and safety public while the doctor becomes familiar with the New Zealand health system and required standard of practice.
T - Training provider
The HPCAA 2003 uses the term ‘education institutions’ for organisations or training providers that may be accredited to provide education and training for a health practitioner. Council prefers the term ‘training provider’ to ensure consistency across the medical profession. When referring to:
- prevocational medical training, the MCNZ uses ‘prevocational medical training provider’ and
- vocational medical training, the MCNZ use ‘vocational medical training provider’ (previously referred to as vocational education and advisory bodies (VEABSs), or a ‘recertification training provider’ or an ‘outsourced medical training provider’.
U - No results
V - VEAB to VPA assessor
Vocational Education and Advisory Body (VEAB)
A VEAB is a specialist college, society or association. Refer to medical college or training provider.
Vocational practice assessment (VPA)
A vocational practice assessment (VPA) is a means of assessing competence. Typically, international medical graduates practising on the provisional vocational assessment pathway, who have not undertaken comparable examinations in their own training programme. are required to undergo a VPA before they are eligible to apply for registration within the relevant vocational scope of practice.
Vocational practice assessment assessors
Two assessors who perform the VPA are selected by us with input from the relevant medical college.
Vocational scope of practice
A doctor who has completed his or her vocational training as a specialist and has appropriate qualifications and experience can be registered within a vocational scope of practice.