How to become an assistant in nursing: Australian careers in nursing

Being an Assistant in Nursing (AIN) is a vital role to registered and enrolled nurses by assisting them with patient care. An AIN gets to learn from other nurses and delivers support and assistance to both patients, registered nurses (RN) and enrolled nurses (EN), ensuring the daily needs of patients are being met. An AIN is able to spend more time with the patients and acts as a bridge between patient and nurse by relaying patient enquires to the RN, ensuring patient data is recorded on relevant charts and reporting patient condition to the RN as required. The level of nursing to which you aspire will determine the training and education you will need in order to achieve your career goals.

  • Task Career in focus: What an assistant in nursing does

    Working in a healthcare system usually means you will work on a shift system in a hospital or health care environment. Because you are working in healthcare, you will need to be able to multi-task, quickly prioritise and be able to make good judgement calls. As an AIN, your daily tasks would vary according to your circumstances but some things you would find yourself doing is; assisting patients with meals and assisting with feeding as needed; helping with basic hygiene like changing sheets or helping those who are unable to clean themselves; answering patient buzzers as needed; re-application of anti-embolic stockings; and reporting any abnormalities or changes in the patient’s condition to the RN. You will also deal with the patient’s family so it is important you can remain empathetic but diplomatic.

    Tasks:

    • Implementing infection control standards
    • Making up post-operative beds
    • Cleaning washbowls, urinals, and bedpans
    • Attend to simple dressings as directed
    • Assist in settling patients for sleep and rest periods
  • Skills Core qualities: Skills to succeed as an assistant in nursing

    For those who love a challenge and enjoy helping others, a career as an AIN can be very satisfying. As an Assistant in Nursing, you need to communicate to a wide-range of different people, from patients and their families, to senior medical staff on a day-to-day basis and must be able to communicate effectively on health issues. It goes without saying that nursing is not a profession for the squeamish and to maintain high ethical standards of the healthcare sector, you will need to be discreet and respectful of people when dealing with sensitive or embarrassing issues. Shift work, including nights, weekends and holidays, may be involved and you must be able to cope with the physical demands of the job.

    Skills/attributes
    • Patience and empathy
    • Ability to follow instructions
    • Observant and active
    • Respond quickly to situations and requests
    • Ability to accurately document information
  • Specialisations The field: Specialisations within nursing

    Becoming an AIN is usually the first step many nurses choose to begin their career, gaining valuable experience in health care and learning under more experienced nurses before pursuing further study to qualify as an enrolled or registered nurse and take on greater responsibilities. It’s also a great way to trial a career in health care system, to see if nursing is the job for you. Below are some of the available pathways that can follow an entry-level position as an assistant in nursing.

    Aged Care Worker

    Aged care is a growing industry and provides a great deal of employment for assistants in nursing, as many elderly patients require around the clock care and help with basic daily tasks. A position in aged care requires AINs who can be patient, sensitive and respectful, providing them with an incredibly rewarding and enriching experience.

    Enrolled Nurse

    An enrolled nurse (EN) has completed a 2-year nursing diploma in the vocational education sector. This involves a lot of hands-on training aimed at promoting core competencies in nursing. ENs are required to work under the supervision of a registered nurse.

    Registered Nurse

    To become a registered nurse (RN), you must complete a 3-year Bachelor of Nursing degree, registering with the nursing board on graduation. Most RNs will pursue a specialisation after gaining experience in a variety of clinical and health care settings. 

  • Pathways The right track: Find study options for becoming an assistant in nursing

    There are opportunities for employment in the nursing industry at every level, from entry-level jobs requiring vocational training to specialised study for those pursuing high-level roles within the healthcare system.

    Starting Out

    These vocational courses will allow you to join the nursing profession at an entry-level role, such as Enrolled Nurse. Entry-level positions all require supervision from senior health care staff.

    Building Skills

    Skill building will help you go the next step in your health care career. Qualify as a Registered Nurse or pursue a career specialisation.

    Developing Your Resume

    After completing these study options in a particular nursing field, these study options will enable you to pursue high-level employment options that often require extensive qualification or specialisation.

    Industry Recognition

    Assistants in Nursing in Australia are governed by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia. Licencing requirements vary are different in each state so find out more about the different requirements in the Resources section.

    Entering the Workforce

    After graduation it’s important you are able to put your hard-earned education into practise as soon as possible. Take a look at our sample resume and cover letter for health care applications and put your best foot forward when you apply jobs.

    Job prospects in nursing: Working life as an assistant in nursing

    Nursing is a growing industry to work for and because of our ageing population, Australia is currently in a nurse shortage. Professional opportunities are available at all levels and accredited assistants in nursing are in high demand. 

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