How to become a Nurse

Male nurse

Nurses are highly sought after in the healthcare profession in Australia. Currently there are more than 360,000 nurses and midwives working in Australia, across various parts of the profession – hospitals, private practice, home care, aged care, rural postings and agency nursing.

The demand for nurses is growing, in Sydney, and in fact all around Australia. Worldwide, nurses are always needed too, so nursing can be a great career if you want to combine it with travel, or extended periods of living and working abroad.

Earlier this year, ABC news reported that New South Wales is on the cusp of a nursing crisis, with south-west Sydney in particular set to face a “catastrophic” shortage of staff.

Data that the ABC retrieved through the Freedom of Information Act, suggested that by 2030 82,000 full-time registered nurses and midwives will be needed across the state, only 74,000 will be available — a gap of 8,000 workers.

In Australia, the demand for Registered Nurses (RNs) is fuelled by multiple factors, amongst these are Australia’s aging population and a far greater need for chronic care and acute care management.

If you are interested in a career as a Registered Nurse, then this is certainly the best time to step into this field.

Australia’s health industry has a strong commitment to embracing technology, medical innovation, high-quality professional competence and a robust research and development system. As such, nursing has become one of the most dynamic and evolving roles of the health care profession.

What is a Registered Nurse?

Registered Nurses work as part of a multi-disciplinary health care team alongside other skilled professionals including doctors, surgeons, physiotherapists, specialty nurses, therapists and others to provide ongoing patient care.

They play a versatile role in patient care.

On the job as a RN

Many standard RN duties include observing patient behaviour/response/ and keeping detailed records. RNs also perform some diagnostic tests, administer medication and assist with devising and implementing treatment plans. Sometimes, RNs are required to prepare patients for examinations, assist in operations as well as post-operative care, update and maintain medical records and help in the treatment of medical emergencies.

RNs have a vital role in ensuring the comfort, safety and wellness of patients and need good communication skills. RNs need to be organised and have a high level of attention to detail as well as good observational skills.

Being an RN is not for the feint-hearted – Nurses deal with trauma, bodily fluids like blood and vomit. And they need to be able to cope in high-pressured environments that require fast decision making. That said, it is also extremely rewarding. And, as a career, it opens many opportunities for those who choose to do more study, and then go onto specialise in fields that interest them. Specialties include:

  • Rehabilitation
  • Intensive Care
  • Paediatrics
  • Aged Care
  • Community Health
  • Surgical Nursing
  • Aboriginal Health
  • Oncology
  • Mental Health
  • Medical Nursing
  • Midwifery
  • Health administration
  • Education
  • Research

How do I become an RN?

In Australia, RNs complete a 3-year university degree, a Bachelor of Nursing, which is offered through most Australian universities. All courses offer a balance between theory work and clinical experience in various settings to provide nursing students with real on-the-job experience working in hospital wards as well as some of the specialty areas mentioned above. This experience will give you exposure to other areas apart from general nursing and may help you decide on a specialty early on in your career. However, many nurses graduate and do a few years of work before they actually decide on a specialty area.

And then once your Bachelor of Nursing is complete and you have obtained your degree, you need to apply to AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency) to practice as a Registered Nurse.

What is an Enrolled Nurse (EN)?

An Enrolled Nurse doesn’t have the same qualifications as a Registered Nurse, and therefore, on the job their duties are a little different. For people not accepted into Nursing at University, taking the path to a become an EN can be an acceptable compromise, or simply just a different pathway into the same career.

Enrolled Nurses will have completed the Diploma of Nursing.  This course is offered through TAFE .

On the job as an EN

The EN works alongside the RN at all times and is required to work under the supervision of the RN. However, being an EN is also incredibly rewarding because there is patient contact involved and some administrative tasks too. Each day is different as the RN and the EN work together to deliver the best possible patient care.

If you are seeking work as either an RN or EN, contact us.


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