How to become a registered nurse: Australian careers in health

Registered nurses are a key part of the healthcare system in Australia. They provide care, advice and support to patients and their loved ones – often as the first point of contact in hospitals, health centres, schools and other facilities. Nurses must have a sound knowledge of health conditions, their treatments and day-to-day care processes. These skills are learnt through completion of a Bachelor Degree that gives them theoretical knowledge and practical experience in the field. All aspiring registered nurses must complete a Bachelor of Nursing.

  • Task Career in focus: What a registered nurse does

    The role of a registered nurse can vary from day to day. Their highest priority is providing care to those who require it – they determine the needs of their patients and help to organise care plans. As registered nurses are in contact with patients regularly, they also assist by answering any questions they or their families might have. Although their role is very practical, RN’s are also required to maintain accurate records, manage junior staff (usually enrolled nurses) and scheduling further appointments or treatments if necessary. 

    Tasks:

    • Assess and coordinate patient needs
    • Provide care for patients
    • Supervise junior health care staff
    • Keep patient records
    • Liaise with other medical professionals
  • Skills Core qualities: Skills to succeed as a registered nurse

    Like all nurses, registered nurses must be able to effectively communicate and build trust. This is achieved through excellent communication skills and a firm understand of health care issues and treatment options. It is essential that they are able to work with any type of patient who walks in the door – age, gender, ethnicity, culture and so forth. People working in health care can encounter some rather stressful situations, so nurses must be able to handle the pressure. 

    Skills/attributes
    • Empathetic
    • Multi-tasker
    • Excellent communication skills
    • High level of health care knowledge
  • Specialisations The field: Specialisations within nursing

    There is a wide range of specialisations available to nurses, as nurses are needed in almost every facet of healthcare. While some nurses choose to work in a certain environment, others prefer to work in lots of different areas to ensure that they are always learning and widening their knowledge base.

    Specialised Registered Nurse

    Over time, many registered nurses develop a favourite area to work in. This may also be known as their “speciality”. Some examples of specialties include disability, maternity, mental health, surgery, and public health services to name just a few. By working in a specific area of health care, nurses are fully focused and able to gain more understanding than they would if they were working across a number of specialties.  

    Nurse Practitioner

    Nurse practitioners are registered nurses who complete further study to increase their understanding of health care issues and treatments. They are able to prescribe medicine and organise medical tests, tasks that would otherwise have to be undertaken by a doctor.

    Healthcare Manager

    Registered nurses can become excellent healthcare managers, because they arguably have a first-hand understanding of how the health care system works in Australia. Some examples of health care manager roles include running a doctor’s surgery, heading a hospital department, or running a public health education service. Some tasks involved include budget and staff management, advertising and promotions, as well as asset and contract management – so it can be helpful to undertake further study for these positions.

  • Pathways The right track: Find study options for becoming a registered nurse

    To become a registered nurse you must complete a Bachelor of Nursing, either directly or after completing a Diploma of Nursing.
     

    Starting Out

    It can be daunting to jump full speed ahead into an industry without knowing much about it. Try undertaking a short course or diploma to find out more about working as a nurse. 

    Building Skills

    The most valued asset a nurse can have is experience. If you’re a student, look for placement or volunteer opportunities wherever you can. It is also important for nurses to stay on top of any advances or changes in the industry so they can update their skills accordingly.

    Developing Your Resume

    Not all nurses want to be nurses forever – some wish to move into health care management roles. If this is the case, a diploma or degree in management will be the best way to gain the knowledge you need to manage in the healthcare industry. Some nurses also choose to pursue a specialisation that requires further study, such as a postgraduate degree. 

    Industry Recognition

    As a nurse in Australia you must be register with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia.

    Entering the Workforce

    Get a great start to your nursing career by putting together an excellent resume and cover letter. Check out our samples for some inspiration. 

    Job Prospects in Nursing: Working life as a registered nurse

    The nursing industry is expected to experience reasonable growth in the future. Nurses are required almost everywhere that there are people, so there is usually a decent amount of opportunities available. The job also pays slightly above average.

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