How to Become Registered Nurse in Australia

There is a rising demand for Registered Nurses in Australia, primarily because of an ageing population and the need for professional acute care and critical care management. Hence if you desire to become a registered nurse in Australia, now is the best time to be so. The health care sector in the country has seen world class technologies being introduced as well as large scale ongoing research and development. This has rubbed off on the nursing vocation too and Registered Nurses (RN) are one of the 14 recognised health care professions (AHPRA 2016) in the country.

What does it mean for you to become a registered nurse? It is a taxing job that will require you to spend long hours on your feet. You have to work in close coordination with doctors, surgeons, physiotherapists, other specialised nurses and any other professional to provide and promote patient wellness. Your job responsibilities will include recording patient ailment data, administering medication, performing diagnostic tests and chalking out treatment plans in consultation with doctors. A RN might also be needed to prepare patients for operations and assist in operations and post operative care.

The first step to becoming a registered nurse in Australia is to go through a registered nurse course that is recognised by the health care controlling authorities of the country. A 3 year Bachelor of Nursing is conducted at many Australian Universities in different States. The basic requisite for admission to these courses is completion of HSC with a relevant Universities Admission Index (UAI) and being above 17 years of age. You can also opt for an equivalent part-time course with the curriculum here differing slightly from full time courses at Universities. One of the leading institutions offering various nursing programmes is Australian Centre of Further Education (ACFE).

These courses focus heavily on hands-on practical training. Hence you will be working in simulation labs or in real life settings related to aged care facilities, mental health units, intensive care units and operating theatres and emergency departments in hospitals and clinics in the State that you are studying in. This will be of great help when you complete the course and get a job in a similar environment. Further, by being exposed to various aspects of health care during training, you can easily decide what is apt for you and the specific field that you would like to work in future.

After you are through with the degree or diploma course in nursing, you have to apply and get approval from AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency) to work as a Registered Nurse in Australia. You can start off with one of the many available specialisations but once you get a few years of experience under your belt, you can decide on senior management based roles and even research and academics, all of which fall among the highest paid professions in the country. Salaries start from around AUD 48,000 and can go up to AUD 72,500 per annum. The average for a registered nurse is around AUD 54,000.

The lucrative job opportunities offered in Australia draw in a large number of practising nurses from all over the world who want to earn more than what they are doing in their countries. APHRA has laid down a few requirements that all applicants have to necessarily follow.

  • English Language Proficiency – Overseas nurses must have compulsorily taken the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) with the following scores – Overall 7.0, Sub scores of Speaking 7.0, Writing 7.0, Listening 7.0 and Reading 7.0. Such a test score is often waived for applicants from New Zealand, United Kingdom, Ireland, the USA and Canada.
  • Educational Qualifications – Overseas nurses should have completed studies in an institute with curriculum approved by the Australian State Nursing Board. This might be a Bachelors Degree or Diploma with NSW accepting only a Bachelors Degree. However, many institutes offer the IRON (Initial Registration for Overseas Nurses) course which brings students up to the standards as laid down by APHRA thereby making them eligible to work as registered nurses in Australia.
  • Undertake Assessment Programme – All applicants have to undertake a Competency Based Assessment Program (CBAP) which includes practical assessments in an Acute Care Australian Hospital and various theoretical and practical evaluations. This is in keeping with courses accredited by the specific State Nurses Board. Nurses from the UK, Ireland, New Zealand, USA and Canada are exempt from CBAP.

These are some of the ways in which domestic and overseas applications can become registered nurses in Australia.