For nursing students, post-grad nurses, and those considering a career switch to the healthcare industry, entering the nursing profession can be an extremely rewarding path to take. Your days (or nights) will involve caring for those most in need, delivering medical treatment as well as emotional support to the sick, and alongside your organisational and management skills, you’ll help support both patients and other healthcare professionals alike.
However, as the healthcare industry has evolved, so too has the nursing profession, and today, there’s a broad range of different career paths to take. The one you choose will depend on your natural skills and aptitudes, as well as any other job experience you may have already acquired. Additionally, you’ll need to think about how long you want to study and what the future holds for your job choice.
So, if you’re considering why choose nursing as a career in Australia, explore this article to get the answers to the above questions and much more.
Different Types of Nursing Roles in Australia
Below is a list of common nursing roles in Australia, however, you can find more information on these specialties here.
- Registered Nurse (RN)
- Enrolled Nurse (EN
- Nurse Practitioner
- Mental Health Nurse
- Clinical Nurse
- Nurse Educator
- Aged Care Nurse
- Paediatric Nurse
- Oncology Nurse
- Emergency Room (ER) Nurse
- Community Health Nurse
- Neonatal Nurse
Step-By-Step Guide to Becoming a Nurse
For anyone considering becoming a nurse in Australia, there are certain prerequisites you will need to meet. In addition, you will need to choose your specific role as a nurse relatively early on, as well as enrol in an accredited nursing program. Below, we look at each of these in more detail.
1. Educational Prerequisites
To start your nursing career, you must meet the minimum educational requirements. These are pretty basic, however, if you have not completed these in school then there are evening courses that can help you achieve certification.
- Completion of high school with a focus on science and maths subjects.
- Proficiency in English language (for non-native speakers, a language proficiency test may be required).
2. Choose A Nursing Specialty
If you plan on a long career in nursing, and you want the freedom to advance in the industry as you wish, then choosing a speciality early on is a good idea. At this point, it’s important to consider personal interests, strengths, and long-term career goals. The easiest way to do this is to research various specialisations to understand the demands and rewards of the role, helping you make an informed choice.
3. Enrol In an Accredited Nursing Program
Once you have the educational prerequisite in place, and you have some idea of which direction you want your career to head in, then you can begin looking at accredited nursing programs in your area or further afield. Some of the top universities to consider include:
- University of Melbourne - School of Nursing
- Sydney Nursing School - University of Sydney
- Australian Catholic University - Faculty of Health Sciences
Licensing and Certification Required for Nursing
Once you have completed your studies and gained a BA or BSC in Nursing or a more specific role, you will also need to consider licensing and certification before you can start work. Here, we look at those requirements in detail.
Types of License & Certifications
The main certifications you will need are tied to two of Australia’s most respected healthcare institutions, and the include:
- Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) Registration
- Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) Certification
- National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).
However, depending on your role or the healthcare facilities in which you wish to work, you may also need or be asked to complete the following.
- Medication Endorsement
- Specialty Certifications
- Advanced Practice Nurse (APN) Certification
- Working with Children Check
- Police Clearance
- First Aid and CPR Certification
- Infection Control Training
- Basic Life Support (BLS) Certification
- Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) Certification
- Mental Health First Aid Certification
- Aged Care Certification
- Wound Care Certification
Steps to Obtain Nursing Registration
There are numerous steps to obtaining and maintaining registration for nursing practitioners. Depending on your specific circumstances, some or all of these steps will apply.
- Complete an accredited nursing program.
- Submit required documents and fees to the NMBA.
- Pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).
- Demonstrate English language proficiency if required.
- Complete any necessary bridging programs (for international nurses).
- Attain provisional registration if applicable.
- Engage in Continuing Professional Development (CPD) activities.
- Renew registration periodically with evidence of CPD and payment.
Licensing Requirements for International Nurses
Since nurses are always in high demand, Australia welcomes internationally trained nurses, recognizing the added value they can bring to the healthcare system. There are specific pathways and programs designed to facilitate their transition into the Australian healthcare workforce. These may include bridging programs, skills assessments, and supervised clinical placements.
To start with, internationally trained nurses will need:
- Evaluation of qualifications by the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council (ANMAC).
- English language proficiency tests (if applicable).
- Cultural competency training.
- Visa and working rights assessments.
Employment Opportunities for Nurses in Australia
As of 2020, the NSC identified a 6% shortage of nurses and midwifes in Australia, so it’s safe to say there are plenty of opportunities for new recruits. Below, we look at employment opportunities for new nurses in more detail.
Nursing Job Market in Australia
According to the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care, there will be increased demand for nurses over the coming years, with an extra 85,00 required by 2025 and 123,000 by 2030. Most in demand are Aged Care Nurses, Mental Health Nurses, and Neonatal Nurses.
Salary And Benefits for Nurses
Since there is such a broad range of different roles associated with the nursing profession, pinning down specific salaries is a challenge—particularly since different states will offer different salary ranges. However, for more information nursing salaries read our guide on nursing salaries in Australia here.
Challenges and Rewards of Nursing in Australia
As with any other profession, there are various challenges to overcome during your career. However, nursing in particular can balance these out with some unique rewards you won’t find in other professions.
- High workload and demanding shifts.
- Emotional and physical demands of patient care.
- Navigating complex healthcare systems.
- Making a positive impact on patients' lives.
- Continuous learning and professional development.
- Being part of a respected and essential profession.
Tips For Success As A Nurse In Australia
Finally, to help you successfully navigate your studies and your potential new profession, consider these tips
- Emotional Resilience — Develop emotional resilience to cope with the challenges and demands of nursing. Utilise healthy coping mechanisms and seek support when needed.
- Prioritise Self-Care — Ensure your own well-being to provide the best care to patients. ´
- Network and Collaborate — Build strong professional relationships with colleagues and mentors. Seek Mentorship: Learn from experienced nurses and seek guidance in your care
- Time Management — Efficiently manage your time to prioritise tasks and provide timely care. Prioritisation skills are essential in fast-paced healthcare environments.
- Critical Thinking — Develop strong critical thinking skills to assess situations, make sound decisions, and respond appropriately to changes in patient conditions.
- Advocacy for Patients — Advocate for the best interests of your patients, ensuring they receive the highest quality of care and their rights are respected.
- Continual Assessment — Regularly assess patients' physical, emotional, and psychological well-being. Monitor vital signs and be vigilant for any signs of deterioration.
- Continuing Education — Engage in ongoing professional development through workshops, seminars, and further education. Stay updated with the latest evidence-based practices.
- Legal and Ethical Awareness — Familiarise yourself with the legal and ethical guidelines governing nursing practice in Australia. Ensure compliance with professional standards and codes of conduct.
- Effective Communication — Develop strong communication skills to convey information clearly to patients, families, and colleagues. Listen actively and respond empathetically.