How to Start a Nursing Career in Australia

A nurse holds up a red heart
Anthea Leong
July 15, 2022
1 min read
A nurse holds up a red heart

Nursing is seen as one of the most promising career options by a large number of people around the world. That’s likely the same reason why many people start a nursing career in Australia as well. Nursing is unlike those typical jobs that people choose to do in their day-to-day lives, such as retail or sitting behind a desk. Whilst it can mean long hours and shift work, it also means a sense of satisfaction and helping other people.

In this article, we are going to cover some of the factors that you should consider before becoming a nurse. We also cover pre-registration tasks, describe the in-demand nursing roles, and provide nursing career tips.

If you decide to choose nursing as a career, then you should know that it offers great opportunities to work both within Australia as well as overseas. It all depends on what you have chosen and your nursing preferences.

After reading this article, I trust that you will be able to decide by yourself whether you should start a nursing career in Australia, or if this career path is just not for you.

Some important factors to consider before making your final decision

It is the responsibility of the candidate to consider all the aspects of the profession that they are choosing for their career. This section describes some of the factors that anyone who is looking for a nursing career in Australia should consider.

nursing career in Australia
The nursing profession is undoubtedly a noble one - but what awaits you on the path to becoming a nurse?

Don’t opt for nursing as an alternative career

If you have a deeply ingrained passion for another career but found that you failed at it, then it is likely unwise for you to opt for nursing as a career. Choosing a nursing occupation is not typically something light or easy that can be practised as a backup job.

One should opt for it only when they are fully inclined towards it. Working as a nurse really requires commitment and tremendous attention.

A few mathematical skills are needed

You don’t need to be a genius in mathematics in order to be a nurse. However, the work that one has to do here requires quite some calculations. Anyone is going to find it difficult if they have trouble with those calculations, and are not good at least with basic mathematics.

Don’t take this decision out of emotional preference

Several recent studies have shown that those people who opt for nursing as a career only because they like to help people are more likely to face mental burnout. You should make sure that you are good at grasping things related to biology and other technical facts.

You will soon learn that nursing is not all just about helping others, and consists of far greater than just showing empathy to others.

Before you decide to enrol into nursing

Before you decide to enrol, I encourage you to become really familiar with relevant medical terminology. This sounds kind of obvious. However, the reason why I’m suggesting doing that before you make a decision is because it will give you an insight—at the very least, a small bit of it—into what you would need to learn, memorise, and be able to do, should you enrol and start a nursing career.

Upon going on their first practical experience, many nursing students may encounter a wide variety of patients. They then try to read and understand nursing notes as well as interpret doctors’ notes, which oftentimes ends up with them entering a panic after running into so much medical terminology.

My second suggestion is that you spend a few evenings or a weekend binging on as many YouTube videos about nursing as you can. These do not exactly have to be about the pros and cons of a nursing career. You might rather focus on videos that can reveal to you the content taught under nursing training, such as basic nursing skills and the like.

There are so many fantastic educational nursing videos that will really help with your nursing skills. You can find everything from how to check someone’s blood pressure through to how to do a comprehensive head-to-toe assessment of a patient.

You want to expose yourself to as much of that as possible because that will give you a far better insight into a nurse’s role and a nursing career, rather than the professional flashy recruitment type videos and articles.

So, what are different fields in a nursing career?

When someone is looking for a nursing career in Australia, they should be well aware of different fields. Having some knowledge about the various nursing careers available to you in Australia will help guide you to make well-informed choices when opting for specific areas of practice.

nursing career in Australia
Nurses specialising in different fields will have different kind of patients. A bedside manner is a must across the board!

The following handful of nursing roles are currently in-demand within Australia, so take the time to become familiar with these fields and the work that nurses have to do within them.

Aged care nursing in Australia

This is a type of nursing where you have to take care of aging people. You will need to understand the codes of practice in aged care and other relevant legislation. In most cases, aged care nurses are involved in most elements of day to day life of these patients, such as taking care of medication requirements, helping with washing and feeding, and many other vital elements to the lives of an aging population.

Mental health nursing in Australia

In this field, the nurses work to improve the health situation of people with depression or mental disease. There are two classifications in this field too. When you choose it as a career option, you can either work inside a general hospital or else be employed in external organisations dedicated to treating mental health issues. It all depends on which type of work environment you prefer.

Palliative care in Australia

Career opportunities in this field have increased over time in Australia. This is because a large portion of the Australian population is in the advanced age group. Nurses in this field typically take care of patients who have incurable diseases.

Palliative care nurses work towards improving the lifestyle of these patients. As the aging population increases, so likely too will the number of such patients as well as the demand for their nurses.

Plastic surgery in Australia

Nurses in a plastic surgery setting are involved in providing care to patients who have recently undergone cosmetic or reconstructive plastic surgery, which can range from small procedures to larger, elective operations.

Learning pathways to a nursing career in Australia

Now that you have acquired all the essential information about various considerations before making a decision as well as several of the more in-demand nursing fields in Australia, it is time to know about getting started. Having such information is very vital to those who are looking for a nursing career in Australia.

There are two ways you can get into this profession. One is by becoming a Registered Nurse while the other is by being an Enrolled Nurse. In this section, we will discuss both of these terms in more detail.

A Registered Nurse

A registered nurse (RN) is a nurse who has received adequate training to provide the best quality service to the patients in adverse situations. They are also ready to take on bigger responsibilities that are accorded team leaders, nursing unit managers and others in similar positions.

Here are the steps that you need to follow for becoming a registered nurse:

Enrolled Nurse

These nurses are the ones who work under the guidance of registered nurses. They perform basic tasks like measuring the blood pressure and monitoring their situation.

Enrolled nurses are found typically working as assistants in emergency situations. It depends entirely on their task as to whether they will work directly or indirectly under a Registered Nurse.

These are the requirements for becoming an Enrolled Nurse:

  • Successfully complete a Diploma of Nursing (Enrolled Nurse) program.
  • Apply to register with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia.
  • After that, you can either apply for a bachelor’s if you want to become a Registered Nurse, or you can continue as an Enrolled Nurse.

A few tips during your nursing training

Depending on what course you undertake, you have anywhere from 18 months to four years to complete your education. This can be a tough few years, so here are a few tips to help you manage this period.

nursing career in Australia
Learning is a never-ending process because there are always new things to be discovered. The same applies to nursing students too!

Keep watching videos

As I mentioned earlier in this article; watching educational videos can really help explain and reaffirm elements of what you learn when studying nursing. It can also help retain what you learn and continue to when in a nursing career.

Practice regular self-care

Being a student in nursing school is draining. It takes a lot out of you, being in clinical and attempting to absorb so much information at once. They come from all the machines, all the patients, the nurses, the doctors, the physical therapists. It can become overwhelming at times, and you may forget to take care of yourself.

You might forget to get a good night’s sleep, and end up waking up unable to concentrate on your task. All of these things are going to really start to play on you. Remember, if you don’t take care of yourself properly, you’re not going to be able to take care of others.

Nursing can be really stressful and sometimes it can consume so much of yourself that your health gets compromised. I suggest joining any wellness programs your healthcare workplace offers, as well as taking daily walks, going to the gym regularly and creating a regular habit of meditation or mindfulness.

Complete lots of practice questions

One of the hardest parts of nursing school is definitely the tests and the type of questions in them. The way to tackle this is by doing loads and loads of practice questions and exams.

Practising answering questions after you’ve studied the materials is really going to help you in preparation for various exams and tests. They will get you thinking about common nursing scenarios as well.

Continue to practice lifelong learning

Lifelong learning really means exactly that. You don’t finish University and know everything there is to know about nursing, or life, or any other career. When you graduate, that’s when you are basically ready to start really learning. You’ll absorb new things on the job, with more experiences, and through meeting multitudes of new people.

This is something you want to make a habit of as quickly as you can. Those who have a passion for learning on the job and a yearning to constantly improve are the ones who go on to build rewarding, successful nursing careers.

In Summary

I trust that you found this article helpful in providing you with enough actionable information to help you in making a decision about starting a nursing career in Australia. For those who undertake this work, it is a rewarding and beneficial career that sadly is often undervalued.

Make sure that you are fully aware and prepared before you begin your early years in the challenging yet rewarding role of nursing. Good luck!

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