Registered Nurses may be the most sought after healthcare position not only in Australia but also worldwide, as the demand for skilled and experienced RNs far outweighs the supply. This increasing demand for RNs is fuelled by multiple factors – among them being a sharp increase in the numbers of the ageing population, and a far greater need for chronic care and acute care management. If you are interested in a career as a Registered Nurse in Australia, then this is certainly the best time to step into this field.
Over the past decade, Australia’s health industry has achieved a reputation of world-class technology, medical innovation, high-quality professional competence and a robust research and development system. Registered nursing in Australia has become one of the most dynamic and evolving areas of nursing, and RNs are listed as one of 14 recognised healthcare professions (AHPRA 2016).
What does it mean to be an RN?
RNs work as part of a multidisciplinary team alongside other skilled professionals including doctors, surgeons, physiotherapists, specialty nurses, therapists and others to provide ongoing patient care. You will play a versatile role, and may be responsible for coordinating activities that promote patient wellness. Some of your duties would include observing and recording patient behaviour, performing diagnostic tests, administering medication and establishing treatment plans. You will also be required to prep patients for examinations, assist in operations and post-operative care, update and maintain medical records and help in the treatment of medical emergencies.
As an RN, you can choose to study further in a specialty that interests you; such as Aged Care, cardiac care, neonatology, or neurological care, or you could also choose to enter the Medical Administrative sector.
How do you become a Registered Nurse in Australia?
To become a Registered Nurse in Australia you need to complete a 3-year Bachelor of Nursing, which is available at most Australian universities. In order to apply, you have to be over 17 years of age or should have completed your HSC with an appropriate Universities Admission Index (UAI).
There are many universities that offer 3-years, full-time Bachelor of Nursing courses or the equivalent part-time Registered Nurse courses, and the specific curriculums can vary slightly between universities. All of these Registered Nurse courses will provide a blend of theory and nursing clinical experience in various settings, and give you experience working in medical and surgical wards, operating theatres, emergency departments, community care, intensive care units, mental health units, and aged care facilities, among others.
During the course of your studies, you can practice your clinical skills in simulation laboratories on specially constructed mannequins, under the guidance of experienced university educators. RN students are exposed to a broad range of clinical areas and settings— so that you can get a better chance to discover what area of nursing you like the best and can explore this field further.
After you complete your Registered Nurse course, you have to apply to the AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency) to practice as a Registered Nurse.
Further career pathways
As an RN, you will have any number of opportunities to further your career. You can choose to specialise in midwifery, cardiac care, child & family health, surgical nursing, emergency nursing, acute care, intensive care, aged care, mental health, rehabilitation or rural and remote community nursing in Australia. Once you have the required experience, you can also look into the option of moving into a senior management-based role, research or education.
Remunerations for RNs in Australia are among the best in the industry, which make Australia a preferred destination for internationally qualified nurses as well. Registered Nurses, on the average, earn an annual salary of AUD 54,000 with a starting salary of AUD 48,000. More experienced nurses can earn around AUD 72,500.
Working in this sector here also comes with the advantages of an enviable lifestyle, many opportunities for personal and professional growth, and a relatively stress-free work environment in a friendly and welcoming country. Little wonder, then, that healthcare professionals across the world are exploring the possibilities of migrating to this country, and taking up a career in nursing in Australia!