How to become a qualified nurse in Australia

Knowing how to become a qualified nurse in Australia following the best approach is worthwhile.

There are plenty of careers you can choose from in the Land Down Under. And while each of them can be lucrative and feel rewarding, few can enrich your life as positively as nursing.

How to become a qualified nurse in Australia

Working as a nurse, in Australia or anywhere else, puts you in a position where you can help countless people in need.

The nature of the job will have you face countless unique challenges, with different results. Furthermore, the position itself is in incredibly high demand. In fact, it has been in high demand since 2014.

Related: How to become a neonatal nurse

So, when you get your necessary degrees and qualifications, you can expect to get employment within a month or two. That’s far sooner than most careers out there.

So, if you are interested in a nursing career, you’re in luck. This article will help you learn what you need to become either a registered or an enrolled nurse in Australia. But before we move along, let’s first address the career choice itself.

Why Choose Nursing?

Interestingly, people don’t think there’s a lot to nursing, at least not when you compare it to being a doctor or a surgeon. But most nurses will list plenty of reasons as to why they chose this particular career path. Some of those are more obvious than others like the ability to help others and work in the medical field. And if you asked: ‘what do nurses earn in Australia,’ you would realize why a decent chunk of people choose to do this job.

how to become a qualified nurse in Australia

However, there are other reasons behind choosing a nursing career. For example, did you know that nurses, unlike doctors, have a somewhat more flexible work schedule? As a nurse, you can actually choose whether to work day or night shifts.

You can also choose whether you want to work a 9-to-5 weekly shift or work 12-hour shifts, but have more days off.

In addition, if you work as a nurse, you can actually advance your career. Seasoned employees can become nurse leaders, nurse anesthetists, nurse practitioners, or nurse educators. And let’s not forget the variety of workspaces.

A nurse doesn’t need to work only in hospitals. You can, in fact, be a school nurse, an emergency flight nurse, or even a nurse aboard a cruise liner. The possibilities are vast.

How to Become a Registered Nurse in Australia

In Australia, a registered nurse is essentially a health worker with the experience and authority needed to supervise other nurses.

These nurses often work in administration and are either team leaders or unit managers. In terms of patient care, registered nurses handle some of the more complex tasks and have more responsibilities than enrolled nurses.

In order to become a registered nurse in Australia, you will need to fulfill the following criteria:

  • Apply for a Bachelor in Nursing
  • Get all the necessary adult vaccinations
  • Apply for both a Police Check and a Working with Children Check
  • Study for your Bachelor in Nursing degree
  • Register with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA)
  • Work for a few years as a general registered nurse before choosing a field to specialize in

A Bachelor in Nursing in Australia usually requires 3 years to complete. Most of the time you will be on campus or studying via online classes, depending on the situation.

Furthermore, you will need to complete about 840 hours of practical clinical experience. In other words, you will spend time in various healthcare facilities under professional placements.

While working as a general registered nurse, you can advance further in a specific field, such as pediatrics, cardiology, emergency nursing, aged care, or even psychiatry.

In addition, you will have access to a wide range of employment opportunities that don’t necessarily include healthcare facilities, such as cruise ships and flight nursing.

How to Become an Enrolled Nurse in Australia

Enrolled nurses are a level below registered ones. However, they are by no means any less important. In fact, their work is crucial, since they work directly with patients on a daily basis.

Most of the nurses that work in hospitals, welfare organizations, and senior homes are enrolled, nurses.

Of course, if you want to progress in the field and work in a position that pays higher, you can always continue your studies and become a registered nurse.

As an enrolled nurse, your job is to provide comfort, safety, and good hygiene to the patients. For instance, you can observe them, measure their blood pressure and pulse, and then report any changes to both the registered nurse in charge and the doctors.

Oftentimes, you will be a part of a team working with other enrolled nurses under direct supervision from a registered nurse. However, some enrolled nurses work with less direct involvement from their team leaders.

Most of the steps to becoming an enrolled nurse are similar to those of becoming a registered one. They include the following:

  • Apply for a Diploma in Nursing
  • Get the vaccinations and the Checks
  • Study for the Diploma
  • Register with AHPRA

After obtaining your Diploma, you can start work right away as an enrolled nurse. However, since the Diploma requires no more than 20 months, you can continue with your studies and acquire a Bachelor’s in Nursing.

In terms of your AHPRA registration, no matter what type of nurse you are, you will have to renew it on a yearly basis.

Foreign Applicants

Let’s say that you are not a native Australian, but would like to apply for a nurse position. What exactly would you need and how could you acquire it?

Well, depending on your level of education and/or experience, you will have to satisfy one of the five following criteria:

Nursing in Australia: Bottom Line

Nursing is a noble career path that many people aspire to, especially in 2021. If you follow all of the instructions carefully, you can start working as a nurse relatively quickly and advance within just a few years.

The job itself is far from easy, but knowing that you helped save lives is a rewarding, satisfying experience and an excellent motivator to progress.


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