The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare states that nurses and midwives made up around 57% of all healthcare workers in Australia in 2018. That means that nurses are the largest group of registered healthcare professionals in our country. So, while doctors will make decisions and perform important procedures, nurses are the ones that deal with patients the most.
We all know nurses to be a vital part of our community. But how much do we really know about this profession? What is it like working as a nurse? And more importantly, how can you become a nurse in Australia?
Let’s find out!
The Types of Nursing Roles in Australia
If you are thinking about pursuing a career as a nurse, keep in mind that there are a number of different areas and specialties you can choose from. For instance, you can work with elderly people, newborns, or in emergency rooms, among other options. However, each role has its own set of qualifications, specialty, and scope of practice.
Registered Nurse (RN)
To become an RN, you need to have a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing as well as more than 1000 hours of placement experience. RNs can give medication under the doctor’s supervision, take the patient’s vital signs, attend to wounds, assist with activities such as showering, toileting, and feeding, provide support and education to patients and their families, etc.
Enrolled Nurse (EN)
To work as an EN, you don’t need a bachelor’s degree, but you have to have at least a Diploma of Nursing, which will take you 12 to 24 months to acquire. ENs’ responsibilities include taking the patient’s vital signs and reporting changes, helping patients maintain personal hygiene, including showering, bathing, and dressing, etc.
Assistant in Nursing (AIN)
AINs are generally ENs or RNs that are currently in training and have less than a year to finish their education. AINs work alongside qualified nurses and under the direction of RNs. People in this position can help patients with their personal needs, observe and report any changes in their condition, assist in basic treatment, follow therapy plans, help with rehabilitation exercises, tend to simple wounds, etc.
Clinical Nurse (CN) / Specialist (CNS)
In most instances, a CN and CNS have the same roles, which include monitoring patients, deciding on appropriate treatment plans for individuals, identifying patients with serious health problems, examining those problems, and providing medical help, etc.
As you probably already know, a midwife provides medical care, help, and support during childbirth and afterward. If you carry this title, you can also offer antenatal care, act if there are any complications during labor, give advice regarding breastfeeding, etc.
Nurse Practitioner (NP) / Unit Manager
NPs are RNs who have a more advanced role and authority. Generally speaking, they do the same work as RNs with a few additional responsibilities like hiring and training new staff, prescribing medications, ordering tests, assisting during procedures, implementing interventions, etc.
How Much Do Nurses Earn?
When it comes to healthcare quality, Australia is among the top ten countries in the world. Therefore, it invests a lot in its healthcare professionals. But how much nurses earn will depend on location, experience, qualifications, etc. Still, the average nurse salary in Australia (for RNs) is around $64,000 a year.
What Is It Like Working as a Nurse
As a nurse, you will have to deal with patients and provide excellent care and support. Also, you should be prepared to communicate with and tolerate different kinds of personalities.
Although the Australian working week consists of 38 hours, nurses usually work 33 hours a week. However, they have to pull 12-hour shifts for three days in a row on many occasions. Additionally, shifts can start at any time.
You can expect to work on weekends and holidays, night shifts, and extra hours if you are just starting out. But as you gain seniority, you will begin to work more regular hours.
According to Australian law, nurses are entitled to paid holidays, such as Christmas, New Year, Easter, Boxing Day, etc.
How to Become a Nurse in Australia
As mentioned above, if you want to become an EN, you need to acquire a Diploma in Nursing. On the other hand, to be an RN, you have to have one of the following: Bachelor of Nursing, Bachelor of Science (majoring in Nursing), or Bachelor of Nursing (Advanced Studies).
Furthermore, all nurses must register at the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA). The permit lasts only a year, which means you need to reapply annually.
What if You Are a Foreigner?
If you have plans to move to Australia and work as a nurse, you need to go through the following steps.
1. Check with the NMBA and AHPRA
The NMBA we mentioned above and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) have requirements you should meet before you can work as a nurse. The criteria include:
- Proof of identity
- English language proficiency
- Meeting the nursing education standards
- Providing the evidence of professional practice
- Demonstrating you are fit to work in Australia
2. Submit Your Application
Once you have all the necessary documents, fill in and submit your application forms to NMBA and AHPRA, so you can get approved and registered.
3. Get a VISA
Don’t forget to check with your local embassy about how to acquire a visa (and which type you need) to work in Australia.
Being a nurse is a well-respected and noble calling. If you opt for such a career, you will have dynamic working days and you will be able to help many people. However, such a job can sometimes get downright scary, which is why it’s not for the faint-hearted. All in all, working as a nurse in Australia is a gratifying experience that will open up some amazing opportunities for you.