Credentialing - What you need to know

What is credentialing?

A process used to assign specific clinical responsibilities to health practitioners on the basis of their education. It commences on appointment and continues for the period of employment. 

A credential recognises the knowledge, skills and experience of a professional to perform agreed clinical activities within a designated environment. 

Is credentialing about qualifications?

No.  Education and training are part of the framework that supports credentialing.  Credentialing involves knowledge and skills and recognises continued learning, both formal and informal

Who can apply to be credentialed?

This credentialing programme is available to any registered nurse working in primary health, who has the knowledge, skills enhancement and experience to apply mental health and addiction assessment, referral and interventions in a primary care setting.  This program is available to both individuals and primary healthcare organisatons.  

If you have any questions about the programme (after having read the FAQ and other information on this site), please contact either your program co-ordinator or for individual applicants contact Lois Boyd  by email 

What does the nurse practising in a primary care setting, need to become credentialed?

The knowledge,skills and experience required for primary mental health care include:

How does credentialing fit with current professional development?

Participating in the credentialing program will assist RN's in primary care settings with ongoing professional development.

Credentialing activities can be included in a registered nurse’s professional development plan and included in recorded professional development hours.

How long will it take me to upskill and be eligible for a credential?

There is no fixed number of hours required, but rather nurses should focus training specifically to meet their needs and needs of their registered population.  A rough guide would be between 25 and 40 hours if you are working on this individually.  If you are part of a PHO group, there may be organised education days and a timeframe set by the organisation

Is there a cost to become credentialed?

There is currently a cost of $50 for the credentialing process which includes one year of Associate membership to Te Ao Maramatanga - New Zealand College of Mental Health Nurses  

Other associated costs to the PHO/primary care nurse may be release time to participate in training and training costs

Does this credentialing mean the RN will be a mental health nurse?

No. Credentialing means that an RN will have specific skills in basic mental health and addiction assessment and intervention, that will enhance their skill set in the primary setting.  This is not at the specialist level required for mental health nursing.

What are the benefits for an RN?

Credentialing enables an RN to have their clinical knowledge and skills in mental health and addiction recognised by Te Ao Maramatanga - New Zealand College of Mental Health Nurses.

As a credentialed nurse, they  know their skills in mental health and addiction meet college credentialing standards and that they are supported to maintain and extend those skills in their workplace.

Credentialed RNs will also be an associate member of the NZCMHN which extends their professional network and sources of up to date information to support best practice.

What do employers need to do?

Employers will be expected to support credentialed nurses in the development and maintenance of their knowledge and skills required to both achieve and maintain their credentialed status.  This can include:

Why do we need Mental Health Credentialing in Primary Care?

We know that people experiencing mental health and addiction problems are less likely to visit a primary care setting for their mental health or readily discuss their mental health concerns.  We also know that a lot of postive and proactive assistance, offered early on in a course of illness can be very effective and prevent future illness and disabilty.  .

The present system does not always offer nurses, employers a consistent standard of service or level of knowledge and skills required to respond to people who have mental health or substance use concerns.  The NZCMHN and the primary sector consider that is it in the interest of nurses and service users to have clarity and consistency about the level of knowledge and skills needed to offer a positive and proactive service to people experiencing mental health and addiction concerns.

Is this a ‘one off’ process? 

No.  Once an RN has been credentialed, they will need to be re-credentialed at regular intervals, every three years.  This is necessary to ensure their knowledge and skills in the credentialed clinical activities remain up to date and that their practice environment remains supportive in the safe use of the credentialed clinical activities in daily practice within a primary care setting.

Are mental health nurses included in the credentialing project?

No.  This project is not designed for RN's working in mental health settings.  

How does credentialing affect an RN’s scope of  practice?

Credentialing does not impact on the scope of practice or conditions for a registered nurse.  Rather, it recognises discrete clinical activity sets and supports the development and ongoing maintenance of the knowledge and skills required within a defined practice setting.  It fits within the scope of all registered nurses.

How do I apply?

Have a look at the link below for the Credentialing Application Guidelines.  Once you have met the criteria and assembled the information required, you can contact Lois Boyd, Director of the College Primary Mental Health and Addiction Credential Programme.  

How long is a credential valid for?

A credential awarded by Te Ao Māramatanga is valid for 3 years from the date of the award.  A successful applicant shall receive acknowledgement in the form of a certificate.  The certificate is designed with space on the back to place an updated 're-credentialing sticker' for every successful reapplication received.

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