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An internationally qualified nurse with minimum of 600 hours of clinical work experience and requisite English Language proficiency can become a registered nurse in Australia.

Early 2020, to be precise, in March 2020, the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) transitioned to an Outcomes-Based Assessment (OBA) for internationally qualified Nurse who meet the AHPRA registration standards. With this new system, the bridging program has been now replaced by Outcomes-Based Assessment (OBA).

The OBA has replaced bridging programs, for example, IRON or Initial Registration of Overseas Nurses.

The OBA is a 2-stage assessment process: (i) a multiple-choice question (MCQ) exam and (ii) an objective structured clinic exam (OSCE). You will be required to pass the MCQ before moving to the OSCE.

Under the OBA for IQNM, IQNM must pass, in the following order:

Cognitive assessment component – this a computer-based multiple-choice questionnaire or MCQ; and

Behavioural component (OSCE) – this assesses the behavioural skills that reflect the IQNM’s knowledge and skills of an entry-level Australian nurse or midwife.

In addition to the OBA for IQNM, overseas trained nurses and midwives must also undertake an orientation program to help them familiarize themselves working in the Australian healthcare system. This program covers 3 parts:

  1. An online Self-check or assessment introducing IQNM to Australia and the Australian healthcare system;
  2. This orientation (for all IQNMs who are advised to continue with the assessment process) covers the diversity of the Australian culture and IQNM must complete it once they are registered with the NMBA.
  3. The IQNM’s employer will provide an orientation which is based on NMBA’s guidelines.

The OBA for IQNM whose qualifications do not meet all the required assessment criteria. They will be required to sit for the OBA or use another pathway, such as an NMBA approved program of study, to apply for their permanent resident visa.

A new model of assessment (steps)

1) Self-check

All IQNMs will need to submit their qualification information at Self-check. You will then be advised of the steps or assessment stages you must successfully complete before being eligible for registration.

There is no fee to use the Self-check.

After completing Self-check your qualification (eg. Bachelor of Science in Nursing) will be assessed whether it is substantially equivalent or based on similar competencies to an Australian approved qualification (eg. Bachelor of Nursing and you must demonstrate you are able to meet the mandatory registration standards).

You will be issued with a referral to the OBA if you have been assessed as holding relevant but not substantially equivalent qualifications and able to demonstrate you meet the mandatory registration standards. Thereafter you will be assessed whether you are eligible to apply for registration after you have completed Orientation Part 1.

You should note that you are only eligible for registration after you have successfully completed an OBA (by paying a registration and application fee of $300 and $175 respectively).

2) Orientation program

After Self-check and if you are asked to proceed in the IQNM assessment (by paying a fee of $640), you will need to complete the orientation program in order to be registered in Australia. There are 2 parts to the orientation program.

Part 1 is an online learning course introducing you to Australia and Australian healthcare.

Part 2 is a more thorough online introduction, It includes the content on the diversity of Australian culture. Part 2 must be completed once you are registered with NMBA. This is a mandatory requirement in order for you to be registered.

In addition to completing the orientation program, you must seek out and be part of the workplace induction and/or local orientation provided by an employer.

Costs to attend OBA course

Some private institutes offer 12 weeks NCLEX-MCQ Preparation course for $3,500. Most of these are online courses that do not require you to be in Australia. It is unlikely you will be refunded the fee paid if you failed to pass the actual MCQ exam.

Some private institutes offer 6 weeks OSCE Assessment preparation and simulation training course for $5,500. You will be required to be in Australia to attend the course. It is unlikely you will be refunded the fee paid if you failed to pass the OSCE assessment.

Core registration standards

With the exception of registered students and non-practising registrants, these standards apply to applicants for registration and currently registered nurses and midwives.

When a nurse/midwife first applies for registration, the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) requires the applicant to declare their criminal history in all countries, including Australia.

AHPRA on behalf of the NMBA must check an applicant’s criminal history during the registration process to ensure only those nurses and midwives who are suitable and safe to practice are granted registration in Australia.

Your practice hours will be recognised as meeting this standard if:

  • you hold or have held current and valid registration with a recognised nursing or midwifery regulatory authority (either in Australia or overseas), or
  • your role involves the application of nursing and/or midwifery knowledge and skills, or
  • you have carried out postgraduate education leading to an award or qualification that is relevant to the practice of nursing and/or midwifery.

Meeting the NMBA’s minimum requirements for recency of practise doesn’t automatically satisfy your professional and ethical responsibilities to ensure that you recognise and work within the limits of your competence and maintain adequate knowledge and skills to provide safe and effective care.

The National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) is a standardized test that the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) has introduced to determine if a candidate is ready to be licensed as an entry-level nurse in Australia. The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) is a computer-based exam and is provided in the computerized adaptive testing (CAT) format. The NCLEX-RN is delivered at dedicated Pearson VUE test centres in most countries around the world. The majority of NCLEX-RN items are multiple-choice but there are other formats as well. All item types are scored as either right or wrong and there is no partial credit. The NCLEX-RN is designed to test knowledge, skills and abilities essential to the safe and effective practice of nursing at the entry-level. Candidates will be given a short tutorial on how to use the computer before starting the exam. The NCLEX-RN can be anywhere from 75 to 265 items. Of these items, 15 are pre-test items that are not scored. Regardless of the number of items administered, the time limit for the exam is six hours.

OSCE for RNs is a preparatory course that enhances the candidate’s professional knowledge and practical skills to help them to prepare for both the modules of the Outcomes-Based Assessment (OBA) in Australia.

* This course does not lead to direct registration as a Nurse or Midwife in Australia. OSCE for RNs is a preparatory course that enhances the candidate’s professional knowledge and helps them to prepare for the Objective Structured Clinical Examination as a part of the Outcomes-Based Assessment (OBA) in Australia.

About the Program

OSCE is a specialized clinical examination preparatory course designed for Internationally Qualified Registered Nurses to successfully prepare for Objective Structured Clinical Exam (OSCE).

Course Structure

The structure of the program might change from institution to institution. Some of them offer 12 weeks of Objective Structured Clinical Exam (OSCE) / Simulation Training is provided on campus along with two non-awarded units. These units have been created to assist the students to formulate a strong understanding of the Australian Healthcare system.

This course includes OSCE training and model exams to help them get familiarized with the examination.


In short, English Language proficiency, then self-assessment followed by NCLEX-RN and subsequently OBA.