How to Become a Qualified Nurse in Australia

Have you ever considered becoming a nurse? Typically, it’s an occupation people tend to skip for other, more lucrative jobs, like coder or programmer. What’s even more devastating is that many countries seem to be facing nursing shortages, including the UK, Canada, and Australia. However, since the pandemic, nursing schools in the US and worldwide have been seeing a massive surge in enrollment.

So, the demand is high, and the opportunities abound. It seems like the best possible time to become a nurse, with Australia being the most sought-after country for new recruits. This article will go over all of the necessary details regarding becoming a nurse in the Land Down Under. Hopefully, it will help you figure out what kind of career you’re after and whether or not it’s worth pursuing.

Before we move on, however, we should state that you can apply to be either a registered or an enrolled nurse in Australia. The differences between the two will be explained in the paragraphs that follow.

Becoming a Registered Nurse

Registered nurses tend to be senior workers with at least several years of experience in the business. They frequently handle administration and lead a team of junior nurses (enrolled nurses or nurse assistants). As a registered nurse, you can expect to become a team leader or a unit manager, depending on your specialization.

There are several steps you need to complete before becoming a registered nurse. Firstly, you will need to apply for a Bachelor's in nursing and take all the required vaccinations. The BA usually takes three years to complete, and you will more than likely be taking online classes or spending time on campus. As you do your studies, you will also need to apply for specific Checks, most notably a Police Check and a Working with Children Check. Furthermore, you will need to clock in 840 hours of practical clinical work.

Once you’ve acquired your BA in nursing, you will want to register with the AHPRA — the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency. With that done, you’re ready to work as a general registered nurse for a while before you can specialize in a specific field. Those can include:

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

Becoming an Enrolled Nurse

Enrolled nurses are a step below registered ones, at least in terms of employment and advancement. If a registered nurse runs the administration and leads teams of others, an enrolled nurse is in the proverbial trenches. These nurses tend to interact with the patients directly, providing comfort, safety, and good hygiene to each individual.

Applying to become an enrolled nurse is more or less similar to the one we described a paragraph earlier.

  1. You will need to apply for a diploma in nursing.
  2. You must get all the necessary vaccinations and checks as you go through classes and exams.
  3. The next step involves graduating with a diploma in nursing and registering with the AHPRA.
  4. Finally, you are ready to start nursing.

But that’s not where your career advancement needs to end. Since it takes around 20 months to get a diploma, you can actually work as a nurse and still study for a Bachelor’s degree in the meantime. That way, you can rack up the working hours and apply to become a registered nurse in the process.

Enrolled nurses have a wide variety of tasks. Most of the time, they will tend to the patients directly. That can involve measuring their blood pressure and pulse, reporting the results to the nurse or doctor in charge, and carrying out all of the tasks that the team leader provides. Of course, registered nurses tend to run these teams. And while some of them like to be directly involved with the team’s advancement, others are a bit more hands-off and let their enrolled nurses grow and learn on their own.

As you can see, both registered and enrolled nurses have to register with the AHPRA and renew their registration periodically. Usually, that renewal is done on a yearly basis.

Instructions for Non-Native Applicants

Foreign citizens can also become applicants for nursing in Australia. However, they have to fulfill a few important criteria first. They are as follows:

  • Provide valid proof of your identity
  • Be fluent or at least proficient in English
  • Meet the education standards of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council
  • If you have it, provide evidence of prior working engagements as a nurse in your native country
  • Demonstrate a fitness to practice in Australia

Benefits of Nursing in Australia

Excellent Working Conditions

The Australian health system is one of the best in the world. As a nurse, you will be working in a stable environment with all of the necessary tools and space to progress and advance.

Decent Salary

An average registered nursing salary in Australia is around A$ 64,000 a year, which is an incredible sum to consider. Top-tier nurses can even get more than double that amount in certain areas of the country, like New South Wales and Queensland. However, your salary size will vary depending on a few factors:

  • What state you are in
  • What city you are in
  • Which facility employs you
  • How long you’ve been a nurse
  • What educational background or practical experience you have
  • How you perform within the first month or so

Stable Careers

Nursing is one of the most stable working careers in Australia. As a nurse, you won’t have to worry about losing a job anytime soon. The shortage of health workers in Australia has actually been an issue since 2014, years before the outbreak of the pandemic.

Anyone Can Do It

Nursing does require a diploma or a BA. However, anyone can apply for it and get it, and they don’t even have to be a native Australian. In fact, many people from Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and other surrounding countries often seek out hospital employment in the Land Down Under precisely because of that.

Helping People on a Daily Basis

By far, the biggest benefit of being a nurse is the ability to be there for someone in need. More often than not, patients actually form long-term bonds and friendships with nurses, almost as often as with doctors. That feeling when you help a person overcome an illness or an injury is incredibly rewarding, and it will motivate you to keep going and advance further.

Nursing in Australia: A Few Words at the End

As you can see, becoming a nurse in Australia is not necessarily easy, but it also isn’t particularly complicated. All it takes is a bit of hard work and engagement, and before you know it, you will be helping doctors and surgeons save many lives.