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College of Nursing explains costly re-entry course

college of nursing
Photo: The College of Nursing
The College of Nursing’s Assessment of Competence course has been inundated with applications from nurses wanting to return to the profession this year.

The course has been so popular the College has more than doubled course placements to meet demand and extra staff are being contracted to cover the workload.

The re-entry course has made headlines in the past few months after the NSW Nurses’ Association and the Australian Nursing Federation raised concerns the $10,000 course fee was prohibiting New South Wales’ unregistered nurses, who have been out of the profession for five to 10 years, from returning to the workforce.

The College has moved to address the concerns, issuing a statement about the course.

In it, it states the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency assesses
each re-entry case individually, taking into account how recently a nurse has practised, before referring some nurses on to the course.

“These are not refresher courses, they are programs designed to assess the competence of the individual to practise safe and contemporary nursing in today’s increasingly complex and demanding clinical environments,” it states.

“AHPRA’s primary purpose is to protect the public and takes its role in ensuring safe and competent health practitioners are registered to practise, very seriously.”

Participants wanting to enrol in the course must have a current letter of referral from the Nurses and Midwives Board of Australia.

The College states the 300-hour course is equally divided into a face-to-face theory component and professional experience placement, with the $10,000 fee due to professional indemnity insurance for the professional experience component coupled with the cost of the two-day one-on-one assessment of competence, carried out by the College’s clinical facilitators.

And it states the cost is comparable with other Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council (ANMAC) accredited programs across the country.

The course is conducted at the College’s registered training facility at Burwood in NSW but the College states opportunities are available for people living outside Sydney to apply for practical placements closer to home.

The course is the only one run in NSW but there are other options for nurses wishing to return to the workforce, including scholarships, interstate studies and hospital placements.

For more information on the next Assessment of Competency course contact The College of Nursing’s student services centre on 02 9745 7500 or 1800 265 5343 or email


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