How to become a nurse: Australian careers in nursing

Without the support and expertise of nurses, our health care system would cease to exist so a career in nursing is highly valued as well as being highly rewarding. As a nurse, you are a vital part of a patient’s life and health care experience, tending to the daily needs of your patients in a wide variety of healthcare settings. They administer medical treatments, provide information, provide support to patients and work closely with doctors to create effective care plans. Becoming a nurse doesn’t necessarily mean you will work in a hospital and there are a huge variety of opportunities in a nursing career with lots of different ways to become a nurse in Australia. The kind of work environment and role you are aiming for will determine the level of training and education you will need in order to achieve your career goals.

  • Task Career in focus: What a nurse does

    The tasks and responsibilities of a nurse will vary based on their specialisation and work environment and there a huge variety of jobs and roles you can work in as a nurse. Speaking generally, daily duties will likely include performing and supervising patient care tasks, administering medication and treatments, being able to use medical equipment, providing insight and interpretation of medical data, observing and reporting on the condition of their patients and providing information to patients and family members about medical conditions.

    Tasks:

    • Provide rehabilitative, curative and preventative treatments to patients
    • Monitor, assess and report on patient condition
    • Work closely with other medical professionals
    • Offer support and information to patients and their families
    • Use a variety of medical equipment
  • Skills Core qualities: Skills to succeed as a nurse

    A job in nursing will always see you in a challenging and exciting environment, providing you with a lifetime of satisfaction and reward. As a nurse, you are the frontline of patient care, coping with the different needs of the sick, injured or impaired. Nurses who have experience in the industry will tell you that you see all sorts of conditions and deal with all sorts of people, so it is important you can quickly read and assess a person and deal with patients who come from different circumstances, cultures and walks of life. You will need to show patience and compassion and have an efficient approach to completing tasks and a detail-oriented focus on your work. Nurses often work long hours on their feet and may be required to work shifts involving nights, weekends and public holidays.

     

    Skills/attributes
    • Caring and patient demeanour
    • Can perform tasks exactly as instructed
    • Good attention to detail
    • Problem solving skills
    • Communicates well with all people
  • Specialisations The field: Specialisations within nursing

    Nursing and health care is a huge industry, full of different career paths that allow you to tailor your studies and training to help you find fulfilment in your professional work. Below are some popular clinical nursing careers, though many more related roles exist in nursing management, research, policy and education:

    Enrolled Nurse

    An enrolled nurse (EN) are entry-level nursing positions that have completed their nursing qualification in the vocational education and their training is targeted towards putting their education to work with practical competency. Graduates can will need to work under the supervision of more senior nurses and often find work and experience as an Assistant in Nursing (AIN) or Personal Carer (PC) and use the EN qualification to further their healthcare career and expand their employment options.

    Registered Nurse

    A registered nurse (RN) completes a tertiary qualification, obtaining a Bachelor of Nursing degree and registering with NMBA on completion, working with limited or no supervision. They have a strong theoretical grounding, are able to assess and plan patient care directives and can pursue a greater range of roles within the healthcare industry.

    Emergency Nurse

    As an emergency nurse (also referred to as trauma nurse or critical care nurse), your job will see you working in hectic and chaotic situations like emergency rooms, triage centres and trauma units. Because of this stressful environment, you must be able to take initiative in quick decision-making, promptly prioritise actions and remain calm in emergency situations.

    Paediatric Nurse

    If you love to work with babies and children, you may be suited to the role of a paediatric nurse, working with infants, children and adolescents. You will deal with chronic and everyday health issues of children and will need to remain patient and warm to your younger patients. Patient assessment is a key aspect of this role, as infants and children are not able to provide information on their symptoms verbally. RNs who pursue paediatric work may choose to specialise further and focus on one aspect of paediatric care.

    Aged Care Nurse

    Because Australia has a growing older generation, working in aged care is important and as an aged care nurse, you will provide care for the elderly, which requires patience, respect and empathy. Those who excel in aged care may wish to pursue further specialisation in Gerontology or rehabilitation.

    Oncology Nurse

    Oncology specialises in the ongoing care and subsequent health issues that occur from cancer. As an oncology nurse, you will work closely with family members and not just the patients, providing education and support for cancer treatment, monitoring of general health during and after treatment and may administer chemotherapy drugs.

    Perioperative Nurse

    This specialisation helps those patients before they go into surgery and the recovery afterwards. Nurses can choose to specialise further within perioperative nursing, focussing on recovery, anaesthesia or preoperative patient assessment and education.

    Remote Area Nurse

    Nursing roles in remote areas are highly sought and although it may not be the first priority for you, experience in a remote area can give you unique experiences you may not experience in more residential areas. Generally, you are required to have 3 years experience in nursing practice before being considered for a posting but there are sometimes entry-level or graduate positions available, depending on your location. Postings may include work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, which can be highly educational and rewarding.

    Community Health Nurse

    If you’re passionate about helping out locals, a career as a community health nurses will provide you the opportunity to help your community through health education and treatment. This can involve working with families, schools and disadvantaged groups to promote healthy attitudes. Community health nurses must be comfortable communicating with people from a range of cultural and ethnic backgrounds and at times, requires you to work automatously in community centres.

  • Pathways

    Starting Out

    Join the nursing profession in an entry-level role with these vocational courses.

    Building Skills

    Pursue a career specialisation and study for career advancement.

    Developing Your Resume

    Pursue high-level employment options by undertaking an extensive qualification or specialisation.

    Industry Recognition

    Nurses in Australia are required to register with the Nursing and Midwifery Board after completing their professional accreditation. Find out more about the professional requirements of the nursing industry in the Resources section.

    Entering the Workforce

    Put your training to good use and get the best professional head start in your nursing career. Take a look at our sample resume and cover letter and put your best foot forward when you apply for nursing jobs.

    Job prospects in nursing: Working life as a nurse

    With our aging population, Australia is experiencing a shortage of nursing staff. Professional opportunities are available at all levels and accredited nurses are highly sought after. 

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