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Accreditation of medical schools

The Council together with the Australian Medical Council reviews university medical school courses to ensure their graduates have the skills and knowledge required to practise medicine competently.

Accreditation/College recertification programmes

Accreditation is the process used to approve College recertification programmes, 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 Council considers suitable for registration in some of the scopes of practice.

Approved practice setting (APS)

An employer or service may choose to meet the standards to be come recognised as an approved practice setting (APS) for the purposes of employing and supervising IMGs.

Australasian qualification

This means a qualification that is awarded from an Australasian or New Zealand Medical College.

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Certificate of registration

The Certificate of registration is a letter confirming the registration status of a doctor who is currently or has been registered with Council.

Certificates of good standing (CGS)

A CGS confirms a doctor's registration and tells us of whether or not there have been any complaints, investigations, or disciplinary action in the time of the doctor's registration. It is not the same as a certificate/letter of registration.

Certifying official

A certifying official is a person who is legally able to certify and witness original documents such as a Justice of the peace.

Chief Medical Advisor (CMA)/Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Medical Advisor, Chief Medical Officer, Medical Director

A doctor who is the liaison person between the clinical and administrative professions and the medical functions of the DHBs.

Clinical audit

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.

Clinical Practice

A doctor is engaged in clinical practice if they assess, diagnose, give advice, treat or make reports, whether face to face of otherwise, with a patient, or with a group of patients or a population.

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.

Collegial relationship

A collegial relationship ensures a doctor is not professionally isolated and the colleague is expected to help the doctor to establish a continuing professional development programme (CPD).

Comparable health system

A term used to cover the list of 22 countries that Council has assessed has having a health systems and structures comparable to that in New Zealand.


The Council defines 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 and to the community.

Competence disclosure

Anything you tell us about a guilty finding in any criminal proceeding, a current disciplinary proceeding before the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal, a current enquiry into your competence or health by your employer or a professional body or a current complaint investigation the Health and Disability Commissioner, of your employer or a professional body will be reviewed by the Council.

Competent authority

The Council recognises the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland as competent authorities for the purposes of general registration.

Conditions on scope of practice

A condition is a legal requirement that a doctor does something or does not do something as part of their medical practice.

Conduct disclosure

Anything a doctor tells us about a guilty finding in any criminal proceeding, a current disciplinary proceeding before the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal, a current enquiry into their competence or health by their employer or a professional body or a current complaint investigation the Health and Disability Commissioner, will be reviewed by the Council.


A title that is interchangeable and has certain special responsibilities. On practising certificates and for levels of registration Council uses the term specialist. (The title consultant is defined differently by doctors).

Continuing medical education (CME)

Educational activities undertaken to maintain competence, ensure medical skills and knowledge are up to date, and improve clinical effectiveness also known as continuing professional development (CPD) or maintenance of professional standards (MOPS).

Continuing professional development (CPD)

CPD is involvement in clinical audit, peer review and continuing medical education, aimed at ensuring a doctor is competent to practise medicine.

CPD associate or educational supervision

Educational supervision is provided by a CPD associate who is a senior doctor practising in the same scope of practice as a doctor participating in an educational programme.


Is a process used to assign specific clinical responsibilities to health professionals on the basis of their training, qualifications, experience and current practice within an organisational context.

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All relevant information that a doctor needs to tell us about any criminal conviction, disciplinary or competence action.

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.

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Educational programme

Where a doctor is found to not be practising at the required standard of competence, the Council can order an educational programme.

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Fellowship qualification

A qualification awarded by most specialist Australasian and New Zealand colleges after a period of basic and advanced specialist or vocational training.

Functions required for the practice of medicine

A doctor is not fit to practise if, because of a mental or physical condition, they are not able to perform the functions required for the practice of medicine.

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Gazette Notice / New Zealand Gazette

An official document issued by the New Zealand government with any changes to scopes of practice or fees.

General practitioner

A doctor whose practise consists of providing ongoing care covering a variety of medical problems in patients of all ages, often including referral to specialists.

General scope of practice

A doctor who has completed a required period of practice in the Provisional General scope of practice will be registered within the General scope of practice.

All doctors who are registered in the General scope of practice must meet recertification requirements set by Council.

The principal recertification programme for General scope registrants requires enrolment in the 'inpractice' programme, administered by bpacnz. The recertification programme requirements include that doctors establish a professional collegial relationship with another doctor who is registered within the same or related vocational scope.

Limited exceptions to the requirement to enrol in the bpacnz recertification programme exist for General scope doctors who:

- are enrolled as a registrar and participating in a Council-accredited medical college vocational training programme. (these doctors will have an established relationship with a supervisor):

- have had their scope limited by the Medical Council to non-clinical practice.

General Practice

General Practice is an academic and scientific discipline with its own educational content, research, evidence base and clinical activity, and a clinical speciality orientated to primary care. It is personal, family, and community orientated comprehensive primary care that includes diagnosis, continues over time, is anticipatory as well as responsive.

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Health disclosure (physical and mental).

Anything a doctor tells us about a physical or mental condition they may have will be reviewed by our health manager to ensure that they are fit to practise medicine.

Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act (HPCAA) 2003

Legislation 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 year of employment after graduation.

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Individual supervision plans

Supervision is a condition of registration for all new doctors in New Zealand who are registered in a provisional general scope, provisional vocational scope or special purpose scope are required to have an individual supervision plan.


Induction is the familiarisation of systems and processes of the worksite and the individual service of departments.


A doctor in their first year out of medical school also known as first year house officer/surgeon, junior house officer, resident doctor, RMO, PGY1 and PGY2.

International Medical Graduate (IMG)

A doctor who obtained their primary medical qualification in a country other than New Zealand, also sometimes called an overseas trained doctor.

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Letter of standing

Where it is not possible to issue a certificate of good standing because there is an investigation or proceeding about the fitness to practise of a doctor, a letter of standing may be provided instead, confirming that the doctor is registered in New Zealand.

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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 is not eligible for a consultant role due to the Council


Another doctor appointed by to Council due to discipline or health matters to help and support the doctor.

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Name variation

This is a change in name as a result of a marriage, divorce or separation or deed poll.

New Zealand medical register

The medical register is a public register kept of all doctors currently registered in New Zealand that details a doctor's name, qualifications, scope of practice and any conditions on their practising certificate.

Non-clinical practice

A doctor is practising non-clinical medicine if he or she is not engaged in clinical practice.

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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 ACC.

Overseas postgraduate medical qualification

An overseas postgraduate medical qualification must be awarded at the end of a period of specialist training and be in a recognised vocational scope/area of medicine in order for a doctor to apply for registration in New Zealand.

Overseas trained doctors (OTD) also known as international medical graduates (IMG)

A term to describe doctors who obtained their primary medical qualification in a country other than New Zealand, these doctors are now called international medical graduates.

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Patient advocates

Independent advocates or support people who help patients and health consumers to make sure that their rights are respected.

Peer review

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 a individual doctor’s work to give guidance and feedback on the doctor’s performance.


The Council defines 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.

Performance assessment

This is an assessment ordered by Council 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.

Performance assessment committee (PAC)

A PAC consists of doctors, usually from the same medical discipline and one lay member who carry out a performance assessment.

Postgraduate medical qualification

Is a specialist qualification, completed after a doctor is awarded their undergraduate qualification such as Bachelor of Medicine Bachelor of Surgery which needs to be in a recognised vocational scope of practice.

Practice of medicine

The Council defines 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.

Practise independently

A doctor who is registered and working within a recognised vocational scope of practice and participating in an approved recertification programme is able to practise independently and unsupervised.

Practising Certificate (PC) or Licence

Every doctor must hold a current certificate to practice medicine in New Zealand

Prescribed qualification

A prescribed qualification is an approved medical qualification or a combination of overseas and New Zealand qualifications, training and experience that a doctor must have to be registered and practise in New Zealand.

Primary care

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 training at a University.

Propose to decline

Under the HPCAA, if Council finds a registration application is not suitable to proceed it declined the application and gives the doctor an opportunity to respond to the reasons why we wish to decline the application.

Provisional general scope of practice

All new registrants are registered within a provisional general scope of practice and must work under supervision for at least their first 6-12 months in New Zealand to assess and confirm the doctors competence.

Provisional vocational scope of practice

Doctors who have completed their vocational training and have a postgraduate qualification who are not already registered in New Zealand must work under supervision within a provisional vocational scope of practice for at least 12 months.

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Qualifications, training and experience

Relates to vocational applications 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 postgraduate medical qualification for vocational registration.

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).

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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 doctors 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. RMO's or resident doctors may also be known as junior doctors in some countries.

Registration interview

Any doctor who has been approved or is eligible for registration needs to have a registration interview to confirm their identity, original documents, practice intentions, pay practising certificate fees, and show certificate(s) of good standing.


Recertification is the process used to ensure doctors are competent to practise within the scope in which they are registered.

Registrar/Specialist Trainee/Resident

A resident doctor who has been employed before the appointment of registrar as a House Officer /Senior House Officer for at least two years. Depending on experience, a doctor may be eligible to work as a registrar in their third year post graduation.


Registration is a term used to describe the process where doctors apply to be added to the New Zealand medical register.

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Special purpose scope of practice

This is a short term form or registration. to allow a doctor to teach, undertake training, research, help in a pandemic or disaster or work as a locum tenens in a specialist role.

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

Statutory declaration

Statutory declarations in front of a certifying official are used to confirm the identity, nationality, marital status of a doctor.

Supervision reports

All doctors registered in a provisional general, provisional vocational or special purpose scope of practice must submit quarterly supervision reports to Council confirming the IMG's competence in all domains of competence.


There are three types of supervision for doctors:

Educational supervision

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.

Disciplinary supervision

Supervision is provided by a senior doctor appointed by Council who is practising in the same branch of medicine as a doctor who has conditions on their practice as a result of a disciplinary hearing. The supervisor monitor’s the doctors to ensure the conditions are being complied.

Supervision of doctors on provisional general or provisional vocational registration

Supervision is a condition 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.


A doctor suspended from practising by the Council or the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal.

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The New Zealand Registration Examination (NZREX) Clinical

The NZREX Clinical assesses IMGs whose primary medical qualifications are not recognised in by the Council before they enter any form of clinical practice to ensure they are competent to practise.

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Vocational Education and Advisory Bodies (VEAB)

A VEAB is a specialist college, society or association that advises Council on matters of registration within a vocational scope of practice.

Vocational Education and Advisory Body vocational registration interview

An interview that enables a VEAB to obtain more information on the doctor's qualification, training and experience and provides advice to Council on whether an international medical graduate holds 'a prescribed qualification' for vocational registration.

Vocational practice Assessment (VPA)

The vocational practice assessment (VPA) is a means of assessing competence and applies specifically to IMGs that it considers eligible for registration within a provisional vocational scope of practice (assessment pathway).

Vocational practice assessment assessors

Two assessors who perform the VPA are selected by Council with input from the branch advisory body.

Vocational scope of practice

A doctor who has completed his or her vocational training as a consultant and has appropriate qualifications and experience can be registered within a vocational scope of practice.

A doctor registered in a vocational scope must participate in an approved continuing professional development programme to maintain competence and be recertified each year.

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