First Aid

Why do I have to do a First Aid Course?

The Pharmacy Council requires that all pharmacists entering the Practising Register hold a current First Aid Certificate in NZQA standards 6400, 6401 and 6402 from an approved provider.

Following initial registration, pharmacists working in a primary care setting who have direct patient contact Competency O1.2: Provide Healthcare (Domain O.1, Competence Standards for the Pharmacy Profession) are required to maintain their First Aid Certification.

More information is available from the Pharmacy Council:

Who has to do a First Aid course?

Initial entry to the Practising Register

Everyone entering the NZ Practising Register for the first time (eg Intern registering in the Pharmacist Scope, Non REQR overseas pharmacists working in NZ in the pharmacist scope for the first time) must hold a hold a current First Aid Certificate in NZQA standards 6400, 6401 and 6402 from an approved provider.

After initial registration:

Do you work in primary care setting with direct patient contact?If not, then there are no further first aid requirements until you return to patient facing primacy care.

If you do (e.g. all community pharmacists and some others) then Competency O1.2: Provide Healthcare (Domain O.1, Competence Standards for the Pharmacy Profession) is relevant: “O1.2.7: Provides emergency first aid where necessary, in line with professional role and expertise.”

Which First Aid course do I have to do, and how often?

Initial entry to the Practising Register

Comprehensive First Aid including all of NZQA standards 64006401 & 6402, or recognised equivalent.

After initial registration:

You need to decide what level of first aid certification you require in your place of work. For pharmacists who are not designated workplace first aid providers, CPR is the key first aid skill that needs to be continually kept up to date. The minimum required is competence in CPR by completing a refresher course (equivalent to NZ Resuscitation Council (NZRC) Level 2 - Note -ANZCOR guidelines for Basic Life Support replace NZRC guidelines Level 2 from 2017 OR NZQA 6402) through an NZQA-approved provider once every three years.

You may choose to maintain competency at a level higher than the Council requires, but you should base your decision on careful self-reflection and assessment of your own and your community's requirements.

If you have not done a refresher course in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) equivalent to NZRC Level 2 within three years of your last certificate, then you must renew your full first aid requirements.

Some examples are:
  • Designated Workplace first aider - NZQA standards 6400, 6401 and 6402 from an approved provider every two years
    Note: Pharmacists who are designated workplace first aid providers must comply with Worksafe NZ requirements regarding first aid competency.
  • Suburban community pharmacist practising next to a medical centre - a minimum of NZRC Basic Life Support or NZQA 6402, every three years.
  • Community pharmacist in a remote or rural setting – maintaining a full (6400, 6401 & 6402) certificate may be appropriate or even higher eg NZRC CORE level 3 or 4 ( CORE Immediate- Adult and Child) every two years
  • Pharmacist Vaccinator -refer to Ministry of Health Immunisation Handbook, Appendix 4.2 for additional resuscitation requirements.

I am a vaccinator - which first aid courses do I need to keep up to date?

Vaccinator first aid requirements are set in Appendix 4.2 of the Immunisation Handbook 2020:

1. infant, child and adult CPR, including mouth-to-mouth, mouth-to-mask and the management of choking

2. administration of IM adrenaline for treatment of anaphylaxis

3. use of an automated external defibrillator

4. one and two-person bag valve mask ventilation and mouth-to-mask technique.

This used to be NZRC CORE Immediate but is not necessarily so now. The use of oxygen, sizing of airways, insertion of intravenous lines and the preparation of emergency medications (except for intramuscular adrenaline) are not skills specifically required of a vaccinator.  (CORE Immediate includes use of oxygen and sizing of airways that are no longer required by IMAC)

As this already includes CPR you do not need to do a separate CPR refresher for Council to meet the general minimum resuscitation first aid requirements outlined above.You do not need to also do 6402. However, if you have determined that your individual work and personal requirements require additional advanced first aid skills eg you are the designated workplace first aider, or work in an environment where you require first aid skills higher that basic resuscitation, then.  in this case, you will also need to maintain at least your comprehensive first aid certificate as well as the higher level of resuscitation required for vaccinators.

Check your pharmacist vaccinator status is still current - check the  Pharmacist Vaccination Service Guidelines (page 8)

How often do I have to do a First Aid course?

You must have a full first aid certificate for entry into the profession (either as an Intern, as a Returning to Practice pharmacist, or if you are a non-REQR overseas pharmacist).

Following this, as a minimum requirement for pharmacists working in settings with direct patient contact, Council only requires you to update your CPR skills once every three years (if Behaviour O1.2.7 from Domain O1 is relevant to your practice, then NZRC Basic Life Support or NZQA Unit Standard 6402, undertaken every THREE years.

Your first aid provider may say that your certificate will expire if it is not renewed every two years. The Pharmacy Council only requires you to update your CPR skills once every three years. 

Refer your first aid provider to the Pharmacy Council First Aid Flow Chart and Qs & As

If you need a full certificate for personal reasons e.g. for a sports team or diving or the location you are working at (e.g. remote), you will still need to complete a refresher course every two years as per the Red Cross, St John or other provider requirements.

This means that, if you are working in Competency O1.2 you have to renew your CPR certificate WITHIN THREE YEARS UNLESS you decide that you should retain competence in NZQA 6400, 6401, 6402, in which case your First Aid certificate is due for renewal WITHIN TWO YEARS.

Where can I find suitable First Aid courses?

The NZQA website publishes a list of Education organisations with consent to assess unit standards 6400, 6401 and 6402. Find it on the First Aid page of the New Zealand Qualification Authority’s website.

The New Zealand Resuscitation Council trains resuscitation instructors, who independently provide their courses. We therefore are unable to recommend specific providers. Independent providers will come up in a web search. If you are still unsure, contact NZRC.

Examples of suitable first aid courses:

Comprehensive First Ad courses (equivalent to NZQA 6400,6401 and 6402)

Refresher courses for Comprehensive First Aid courses (must be done every TWO years)

St Johns - First Aid Level 2 Refresher
Red Cross  - App (online) - Comprehensive First Aid refresherComprehensive First Aid refresher

Resuscitation only (equivalent to NZQA 6402)

Although First Aid providers require that this be done every three years, the Pharmacy Council only require that this be done every THREE years. If you have any difficulties, refer them to the Pharmacy Council First Aid statement.

Courses for Vaccinators

There are many other courses in other areas.  These suggestions are just a starting point for you.

pharmacist requirement

First Aid (NZQA standards 6400, 6401 & 6402)

This is the minimum for designated workplace first aiders


Refresher course (NZQA 6400, 6401 & 6402 if first aid training completed less than two years ago.

If comprehensive certificate required - (Full certificate (as above) needs to be redone if more than two years since the last one)


Resuscitation only - ONLY if comprehensive certificate NOT required

Resuscitation Level 2 NZ Resuscitation Council - Note - ANZCOR guidelines for Basic Life Support replace NZRC guidelines Level 2 from 2017 OR NZQA Unit Standard 6402,

NB: Full certificate (6400, 6401 & 6402) as above needs to be redone If more than three years since the last CPR refresher.

NOT suitable for vaccinators 


As required in Appendix 4.2 of the Immunisation Handbook

The number of points allocated for this Level 4 course is higher as it contains a significant amount of new learning above the level of general resuscitation.


All vaccinators must demonstrate/validate their resuscitation certification every two years