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How to Become a Nurse and Advance Your Career in Australia

Written by CB Community

Nursing has been a popular career choice in Australia since 2014. Tens of thousands of applicants found work in this field in the Land Down Under, and thousands more advanced.

There was even a spike in demand for Australian nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic, and while the pandemic itself is slowing down, the demand for nurses keeps growing.

So, why is nursing so popular? And if it’s such a viable career choice, how can you become a nurse in Australia and progress further in the field?

Well, this article is here to help you find out!

Different Types of Nurses

Broadly speaking, in Australia, there are two different types of nurses:

  • Registered nurse
  • Enrolled nurse

And while the processes of becoming either registered or enrolled nurses are similar in many ways, they do have quite a few differences, which we will list below.

How to Become a Registered Nurse

Think of registered nurses as team leaders or nurses with an upgrade. Health employees with this title tend to act as unit managers and lead entire teams of enrolled nurses.

In addition, they also frequently handle administration. In short, they are the first level of nursing progress in Australia.

So, how does one become a registered nurse? Well, they need to fulfill the following criteria first:

Once you’re a registered nurse, you can work for a few years. During those years, the title you will have will be “General Registered Nurse.”

And, when you get enough experience, you can choose a specific field in nursing and specialize in it.

Normally, you would need around three years to complete a Bachelor’s in Nursing at an Australian university. The majority of that time will be spent in class.

In addition, you will need to complete around 840 hours of practical nursing experience. Most likely, you will be visiting different healthcare facilities and doing regular nurse work, either alone or as a part of a team.

Registered nurses can choose a specialized field as they advance, and some of those fields include:

  • Cardiology
  • Pediatrics
  • Aged care
  • Emergency nursing
  • Psychiatry

Interestingly enough, registered nurses also get business opportunities not many healthcare professionals do, such as working as flight nurses or on cruise ships.

How to Become an Enrolled Nurse

Enrolled nurses are a level below registered ones. They are the nurses that mostly get to work directly with patients.

As an enrolled nurse, you can get a job in a hospital, a senior home, or a welfare organization.

Enrolled nurses need to provide the patients with safety, comfort, and good hygiene. They also observe them, take their temperature and blood pressure, and notify doctors of any changes in the patients’ conditions.

Alternatively, they can also inform the registered nurse in charge.

Most often, at least in Australian hospitals, enrolled nurses work as part of a team, supervised by a registered nurse or even a doctor.

Depending on who’s in charge, you will work as a tight-knit group or have more leeway to work independently.

In terms of what steps you need to take to become an enrolled nurse, they are more or less similar to the steps for becoming registered nurses:

  • Apply for a diploma in nursing
  • Get all the necessary vaccinations and checks listed earlier
  • Study for the Diploma
  • Register with the AHPRA and start working.

AHPRA registration is extremely important for both types of nurses. So, keep in mind that you will have to renew this document annually.

Once you get your Diploma in Nursing, you can start working immediately. The Diploma usually requires around 20 months to acquire.

Of course, you can always continue your studies as you work to obtain a Bachelor’s degree and become a registered nurse somewhere down the line.

What to Do If You’re a Non-Citizen Applicant

Right now, there are around 400,000 nurses in Australia, of which 33% are non-native Australians. That only shows you just how huge of a demand nursing is in this country.

So, as a foreign applicant, what exactly do you need to do to become a nurse, registered or enrolled?

Normally, depending on your level of education and experience, you would need to satisfy one of these five criteria:

  • Provide some sort of valid proof of identity
  • Be somewhat proficient in the English language (any variety will do, but Australian English is a bonus)
  • Meet the standards of ANMAC
  • Provide any evidence of your previous work as a nurse
  • Demonstrate that you are fit to practice nursing in Australia.

What Can You Expect from a Nursing Career

Most people who go after this type of career in Australia focus on the nursing salaries, which can be quite big depending on your position.

However, a huge payday is merely one of many things you can expect as a nurse of any position or rank.

First and foremost, you can manage your time somewhat easily. The job is so flexible that you can choose standard 9-to-5 shifts or pack several 12-hour shifts in a row and take the rest of the days off.

Next, nearly all nurses can expect to get a job within a month, if not weeks after graduating. The demand is so high that you won’t have to worry about potential job opportunities.

Then there’s the variety that comes with the job. Nurses don’t necessarily do the same job every day, nor do they always stay in the same working environment.

As a hospital employee, you might do regular grunt work one day and help handle a crisis only a day later.

Plus, if you’re progressing or studying for a Bachelor’s degree, you might end up in a different facility every other week. The job is interesting and unpredictable enough to keep things interesting.

Finally, there’s the satisfaction of a job well done. Patients will see you as a friend, someone who cared for them when they were at their worst, and doctors will respect you for all of your hard work.

After all, nursing is a respectable profession that one should be proud of.

Nursing Careers in Australia Summed Up

Nursing is not easy, no matter where you do it. However, it is incredibly rewarding in nearly every sense of the word.

So, if you aim for a career in Australia, think about making nursing your first choice.

About the author

CB Community

Passionate members of the College Basics community that include students, essay writers, consultants and beyond. Please note, while community content has passed our editorial guidelines, we do not endorse any product or service contained in these articles which may also include links for which College Basics is compensated.