How To Be A Registered Nurse In Kenya

Before you can be employed as a nurse in Kenya, you need to be registered by the Nursing Council of Kenya (NCK). The NCK is a constitutional body tasked with ensuring that all practising nurses in Kenya meet certain qualification criteria.

You can be a registered nurse in Kenya despite having been trained outside Kenya. The procedure for registration is different depending on whether you were trained locally or abroad.

This article will cover both scenarios, starting with local training and then foreign training.

How to Register as a Kenyan Nurse With Local Training

If you are in Kenya, here is how to be a registered nurse:

  1. Successfully undergo an NCK-accredited course
  2. Sit for the NCK licensure exam
  3. Satisfy internship requirements
  4. Apply for a license and certificate of registration

The following is a detailed description of each step.

1.   Successfully Undergo an NCK-accredited Course

To qualify to be a nurse in Kenya, you have to first be trained. The NCK is mandated to ensure that you undergo appropriate training. They do this by reviewing the nursing programs offered by different institutions and approving them if they meet the standards of quality.

It is your responsibility as a student to ensure that you undertake a nursing course that has been approved by the NCK. The NCK maintains a list of accredited nursing programs, which any member of the public can access.

2.   Sit for the NCK Licensure Exam

After you have successfully undertaken your nursing course, you have two things to worry about: your internship and your licensure exam. Degree students can do their internship either before or after they sit for the licensure exam.

Diploma and certificate students, for example those in KMTC, usually sit for their licensure exams after their final course exams. Once they pass the final qualifying exam (FQE), they receive a message from the NCK with a link to register for the NCK licensure exam.

In the past, the NCK exam was offline, administered in regional exam centres. Recently, the NCK introduced an online version of the exam. To get a sense of the online exams, including the type of questions, watch this video by Loise Oduor, a Kenyan nurse.

You are allowed a maximum of 4 resits.

3.   Satisfy Internship Requirements

The NCK states that students should complete their internship after passing the licensure exams. It also gives the following internship requirements for different situations.

Internship Requirements for a Registered Nurse Who is Upgrading

If you are a registered nurse who previously held a certificate or diploma and has upgraded to a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing, you might not need to go for an internship – depending on your designation.

If you are already a Kenya Registered Community Health Nurse (KRCHN), you can apply for registration directly, without having to go for an internship.

If your current designation is Registered Nurse (RN), you will need to go for a self-sponsored internship in midwifery and community health nursing for 27 weeks.

Internship Requirements for Basic BScN

If you have a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing and wish to be registered in Kenya, you need to complete a 1 year internship. It can either be self-sponsored or sponsored by the Ministry of Health.

4.   Apply for a License and Certificate of Registration

After you have undertaken an NCK-accredited nursing course, passed the NCK licensure exam, and satisfied internship requirements, you can apply to be a registered nurse in Kenya.

To apply, you need your NCK licensure exam results slip. You also need to pay for the license and for registration. The licensing fee is Ksh 1,000.

If your application is approved, you should expect instant licensure. The NCK will issue you with a certificate of registration after 2 weeks.

As a matter of policy, you are required to physically present yourself to NCK offices to collect the certificate. During the visit, you will be required to provide proof of identification.

How to Register as a Kenyan Nurse Trained Outside Kenya (TOK)

If you are a nurse with foreign training, you can still apply for registration and licensing in Kenya.

Here’s the process you have to follow:

  1. Make a Trained Outside Kenya (TOK) application to the NCK.
  2. Apply and sit for the NCK licensure exam.
  3. Undergo 12 – 24 weeks of clinical orientation.
  4. Apply for registration and licensure.

Below is a detailed description of each step.

1.   Make a Trained Outside Kenya (TOK) Application to the NCK

The first thing you need to do is officially notify the NCK of your intent to be registered as a nurse who was trained outside Kenya.

Conditions That a Nurse Trained Outside Kenya Must Meet to be Registered by the NCK

Once you are in contact with them, they will ask you for documentation to facilitate them in ascertaining the following:

  • That you met the minimum NCK entry criteria for the nursing course you undertook abroad
  • That you completed the nursing/midwifery program you enrolled in abroad
  • That you were registered and licensed in the foreign country

The NCK will ask you for the original license and registration certificate and proceed to verify them with the relevant institution in the country of training.

2.   Apply and Sit for the NCK Licensure Exam

Once the NCK has made all the necessary verifications with your country of training and determined that you are a properly trained nurse, you will be cleared to sit for the NCK licensure exam.

From this point, your application is similar to the process that Kenyan trained nurses undergo. You will need to pass the exam to move to the next stage.

3.   Undergo 12 – 24 Weeks of Clinical Orientation

Passing the licensure exam proves that you meet the minimum knowledge requirements to be a nurse in Kenya. However, you still need to be familiarized with the standard nursing procedures in Kenya. This is equivalent to the internship that Kenyan-trained nurses have to go through to be certified.

After doing 12 – 24 weeks of internship successfully, you can now be licensed.

4.   Apply for Registration and Licensure

You can now make an official application to be a registered nurse in Kenya. The NCK will verify that you have successfully undertaken every necessary step. You will be required to pay a licensing fee of Ksh 2,000 if you are Kenyan and $50 if you are not Kenyan.

If your application is successful, you can expect instant licensure and a certificate of registration within 2 weeks.

Nursing Council of Kenya (NCK) Contacts 

Head Office: NCK Plaza, Kabarnet Rd off Ngong Rd

Phone: +254 20 7854665/9, +254721920567, +254733924669


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Timothy Gachahi