Hospital procedures are impacted by Covid-19. Find out more here.

Hospital procedures are impacted by Covid-19. Find out more here.

Registered Nurse to Anaesthetic Assistant

Right: Tania from Southern Cross Gillies Hospital

The Southern Cross RN-AA qualification

The Southern Cross
RN-AA qualification

The RN-AA programme was launched by Southern Cross Healthcare in 2018 in response to a critical shortage of Anaesthetic Technicians. The objective was to develop registered nurses, whose scope of practice and skill set dovetailed well into the anaesthetic assistant role. It was important to support our Anaesthetic Technician teams in this way, by helping to relieve the increasing demands on them in their day-to-day work.

Utilising nurse capability and capacity enables hospitals to mitigate the risk of a patient’s surgery being postponed at short notice. The RN-AA programme supports development of an agile workforce where multi-skilled perioperative nurses who work in anaesthetic, scrub, PACU roles, can be deployed into whichever role ensures surgical lists run smoothly and patients continue to receive the best possible care.

An overview of the RN-AA Training Programme

Over 130 nurses have completed or are currently completing the Southern Cross Healthcare RN-AA qualification.
Over 130 nurses have completed or are currently completing the Southern Cross Healthcare RN-AA qualification.
  • The programme recognises the value and flexibility that registered nurses’ broad clinical experience brings to the perioperative workforce.
  • It has been developed to ensure nurses prior skill and knowledge is valued and built upon as they progress through the training.
  • The programme actively promotes patient centred care alongside technical capability to ensure the Anaesthetist has a competent and safe assistant supporting them.
  • This training programme is available to all nurses registered with the New Zealand Nursing Council across both public and private sectors.
  • Nurses do not have to be Southern Cross Healthcare employees but will need the support of their employing hospital.

The programme aligns to, and recognises, the Australia and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA) Professional Standard 08 ‘Guidelines on the assistant to the anaesthetist’. The programme has also been given strong support by both ANZCA and the New Zealand Society of Anaesthetists (NZSA).

If you would like to be sent the Southern Cross Healthcare Registered Nurse Assistant to the Anaesthetist Programme Specification, please email us.

You may also find these FAQs helpful

Request more information

Hospital benefits from the 
RN-AA Programme

  • The Anaesthetic Assistant role falls under nursing practice, allowing nurses to train without registration barriers. Registration with the NZ Nursing Council is all that's needed.
  • Multi-skilled nurses, covering anaesthetic, scrub, and PACU roles, offer flexibility across perioperative services, supporting patient care promptly.
  • The RN-AA training framework seamlessly integrates into any hospital setting, whether public or private, adapting to various sizes. Employers can customise training while upholding high standards, as per our Service Agreement.
  • Our programme isn't tied to a tertiary education provider, enabling training to start year-round, addressing workforce shortages promptly with minimal service disruption. It accommodates part-time options and unforeseen breaks, catering to diverse learning styles.
  • Designed as an all-inclusive package, our programme ensures nurses become competent Anaesthetic Assistants. Support from Southern Cross Healthcare simplifies delivery, with nurses being supernumerary initially, gradually transitioning to independent practice.
  • Training is hands-on, led by experienced Anaesthetic Technicians and RN-AAs, ensuring quality education.
  • While owned by Southern Cross Healthcare, the programme is locally delivered, adaptable to facility needs, with ongoing support outlined in our Service Agreement.
  • We continually update the programme content to align with best practices and evolving guidelines, ensuring its relevance and effectiveness.

The RN-AA study programme

The RN-AA programme is workplace facilitated and a competency-based education initiative. Clinical training is supported by relevant theory delivered by distance learning. To apply, nurses must have experience in theatre, PACU, HDU, ED, or a surgical ward, and be employed in a hospital committed to support your training.

The RN-AA programme has a flexible start date which means nurses can start training at a time that best suits the employee and employer.

The RN-AA programme is offered to all New Zealand registered nurses in either the private or public sector. If you are employed in a Southern Cross hospital all programme fees will be covered by Southern Cross Healthcare.

No matter your nursing experience, we have a study programme to help 
you gain the necessary qualification to work as an Anaesthetic Nurse in 
New Zealand.

If you are a Registered Nurse

If you are a New Zealand registered nurse wanting to train to be an Anaesthetic Assistant, and have no prior experience, refer to the following links:

Southern Cross RN-AA Programme overview (pdf)

Southern Cross RN-AA Full Programme timeline (pdf)

Already in the Anaesthetic Assistant role

If you are already working in the Anaesthetic Assistant role as a nurse, but with no formal qualification in this specialty or are an internationally qualified nurse (IQN) currently working in the role but wanting to work as an Anaesthetic Assistant in New Zealand, refer to the following links:

Southern Cross RN-AA Programme overview (pdf)

Southern Cross RN-AA Bridging Programme timeline (pdf)

Request more information

Please complete the following to get more information about the
Southern Cross RN-AA programme or enrol.