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Study Nursing 🧑‍⚕️

Nursing is one of the most popular options for courses in Australia. But why? In this article, we’re going to go into the ins and outs of studying nursing and what life looks like after graduation.

But first things first, would you be suited to a career in nursing? These questions below should give you an idea if you would suit the nurse’s profile:

👉 Do you love caring for others?

👉 Would your friends describe you as empathetic?

👉 Do you work well under pressure?

👉 Can you keep your composure at the sight of blood or needles? 👉 Are you looking for a fulfilling career?

👉 Do you want a job that helps you to create a little positive in the world?

👉 Are you thorough and tend to pay attention to detail?

If you answered ‘yes’ to all of those questions, then nursing may be for you.

What is a nurse?

A nurse is defined as a person who is qualified to carry out collaborative care of sick persons and to promote general health and wellbeing. Day to day tasks vary broadly but generally include basic routine and medical procedures on sick persons as well as mental and physical care of patients.

A nurse oftentimes is the person who has the most contact with a patient and is responsible for routine procedures such as ‘obs’ (taking observations of the patients such as blood pressure, temperature etc.).

They are responsible for ensuring patients receive and take their medication and help patients who need assistance with mobility amongst many other tasks.

From our experience, if you read the above and decided that you could see yourself working as a nurse, the next question you would have is whether going into a career in nursing could lead you to a permanent stay in Australia. So, without further ado,

Is Nursing good for PR in Australia?

Registered Nursing has many opportunities for PR in Australia. Registered Nursing has been on the Medium and Long Term Occupation List for a long time and although no job is guaranteed to stay on the list, nursing is one of your safest bets as one of the most in-demand jobs in Australia.

You may have noticed that we used the term Registered Nurse specifically in relation to PR. So the next question I'm sure you’ll have is; are all nurses registered nurses? Well, the short answer is no. Some nurses are considered enrolled nurses as opposed to registered nurses.

These nurses do not have the same opportunities for PR as a registered nurse and are on the Short Term Skilled Occupation List.

That’s quite a big difference, so I’ll imagine your next question would be what’s the difference between these types of nurses anyway?

What’s the difference between an Enrolled Nurse and a Registered Nurse in Australia?

The difference between an Enrolled Nurse and a Registered Nurse is the type of duties they must carry out. An enrolled nurse is considered to have a lower level of responsibility than a Registered nurse in terms of the healthcare hierarchy. This is because enrolled nurses only need to complete a Diploma of nursing whereas Registered Nurses must complete 3 years of study at Bachelor level.

Usually enrolled nurses’ responsibilities are more operative in nature and will carry out tasks assigned to them from registered nurses and doctors, usually working under their supervision. Registered nurses’ responsibilities are more strategic in nature, with tasks such as designing patient care plans, undertaking comprehensive patient assessments and operating in critical and complex environments.

Right so we’ve covered what is nursing, whether it can lead to long term / permanent visas in Australia and whether you have the characteristics that you need to be a successful nurse. But what if you decide to move to a different country? Would your qualification still be useful? And is nursing an enjoyable career anyway? Let’s discuss..

Can I use my Australian Nursing Qualification in other countries?

Your Nursing Qualification (Diploma / Bachelor) from Australia is likely to be accepted in the UK, USA, Canada and many other countries (although it’s always important to check if an Australian Nursing Qualification will be accepted in your desired location). Nursing is a cross-border transferable skill and can take you all over the world.

Is being a Nurse a good job in Australia?

Nursing is a great job on the most part. Being a nurse is a wonderfully fulfilling career with strong future prospects. However, Nursing doesn’t just score top marks in job security, it also scores highly in job satisfaction; with nursing regularly ranking amongst one of the most rewarding and meaningful occupations.

It can be long hours and standing up all day which could be a downside for some. Nursing is often shift work which could mean that you have irregular working hours, however, the nursing profession varies wildly and you can always carve yourself out a career and working schedule that works for you. It is unlikely that being a nurse in a school for example would require you to work unsociable hours.

But then again, working unsociable hours is not all bad. Nurses enjoy time and a half if they work Saturdays and enjoy double pay for working Sundays or public holidays!

How much does it cost to study nursing as an international student in Australia?

The course fee to study Nursing varies from $24,000 to $148,000 AUD per course depending on; whether you are studying a Diploma / Bachelor, which institution you are studying at and the duration of the course. To break this down a little clearer, the following costs and course durations associated with nursing are below:

Diploma of Nursing

$24,000 - $36,000 per course (excluding material / enrolment fees). The Diploma of Nursing typically lasts 18-24 months.

Bachelor of Nursing

$84,000 - $148,000 per course (excluding material / enrollment fees). The Bachelor of Nursing typically lasts 3-4 years.

What’s the difference in qualification between Bachelor and Diploma of Nursing?

Apart from the cost and duration of the courses, the biggest difference between the Bachelor and Diploma of Nursing is in the outcome. Studying a Diploma of Nursing will qualify you as an Enrolled Nurse in Australia. Studying a Bachelor of Nursing will qualify you as a Registered Nurse in Australia.

What is covered in a Diploma of Nursing?

A Diploma of Nursing teaches you all the things you need to know to hit the [ward] running, with modules covering safe practice, care plans, legalities, patient care & communication and how to undertake health assessments. The Diploma of Nursing will qualify you as an Enrolled Nurse in Australia. In order to qualify as a Registered nurse, you will need to undertake a Bachelor of Nursing.

Note that on completion of your Diploma of Nursing, you will also have to apply to practice as an Enrolled Nurse with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA). This registration must be renewed annually in order to continue working as a nurse in Australia.

What is covered in a Bachelor of Nursing?

A Bachelor’s Degree is higher on the AQF (Australian Qualifications Framework) and is a much more all-encompassing course than the Diploma, equipping you with the skills to be able to provide care to people with acute, chronic and complex health conditions. You will learn how to apply concepts and theory in nursing to a wide range of circumstances in practice. You will learn the nuances in how your care may change based on your patient’s Socio-economic background as well as on the current legal and ethical influences in your state and country and how these may impact your care. Most importantly, the Bachelor of Nursing will provide you with the knowledge and ability to comfortably accept responsibility for more complex client management.

The Bachelor of Nursing will also include many opportunities to practice your skills with both simulated working environments as well as a mandatory work placement where you get to experience life as a nurse and start to build up your work experience. The work experience will take place at a variety of hospitals, aged care and community facilities, offering you the chance to experience all different types of working environments.

The Bachelor or Nursing will qualify you as a Registered Nurse, however you will also need to apply to practice as a Registered Nurse with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA). This registration must be renewed annually in order to continue working as a nurse in Australia.

What are the requirements for studying nursing as an international student in Australia?

To study both the Diploma of Nursing or the Bachelor of Nursing as an international student, you will need to meet the following requirements:

  • Adequate English language (IELTS Band 7 or higher in all subsets)

  • Completion of Year 12 studies or equivalent (HSC)

  • Fulfill NMBA requirements

  • Some schools will also require you to do an entrance test to test your maths skills etc.

  • Some Universities that offer the Bachelor of Nursing may also require you to have studied prerequisite subjects (typically science or maths)

  • Funds to cover your tuition and the cost of living in Australia (Proof of funds may also be required depending on your home country)

  • National criminal record clearance check from Australia in order to practice

  • National Criminal Record Clearance check from your home country & any country you have resided in

  • A completed Immunisation card according to the Health Department of your state (e.g. NSW Health). These typically include:

    • Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis

    • Hepatitis B

    • Measles, Mumps and Rubella (Rubella is also known as German measles)

    • Varicella (Chicken Pox or Shingles)

    • PLUS you need to be screened for Tuberculosis if born in a high risk country(e.g. India or China)

    • Government approved COVID-19 Vaccine

  • Working with Children Student Declaration (WCC)

    • If you are a student you do not need to pay the fee

Is it hard to become a nurse in Australia / Is it hard to get a job as a nurse in Australia?

In general, it is not difficult to become a nurse in Australia, if you enjoy the nursing profession. The answer to this question varies depending on whether you mean is it difficult to complete the degree, to find a job on completion or to work as a nurse in Australia in particular.

The hardest part of becoming a nurse is the study involved. Studying for your qualification can be very demanding, and rightly so! Once qualified and registered, nurses take peoples’ lives into their hands!

A qualification in nursing will usually incorporate a placement as part of the course. This means that you get real-world experience in the profession and can leave your institution with some experience. It also offers an opportunity to network and make connections which can help you to find a job when you finish your studies.

At the moment, registered nurses are in demand and are on the Medium-Long Term Skilled Occupation List, which means that Australia is finding it difficult to find enough Australians to meet its demand for nurses and therefore is looking to fill the spaces with qualified non-nationals. Lucky for you, this makes it easier for international visa holders to gain work as a registered nurse.

Is nursing a good career in Australia?

Nursing is a great career, with so many options to adjust your work schedule and climb the ladder. If you do not enjoy working unsociable hours, you can apply to become a school nurse or a trainer. If you want to increase your hourly wage, you can apply for unsociable shift work hours at a hospital. You can also specialise to adjust the work intensity / hourly wage you prefer. A neonatal nurse for example is a high stress position but is also one of the best paid.

Nursing is associated with a caring nature and is considered a good career choice to most cultures. Working on the front line will help you to get access to and put you front of the queue for COVID booster vaccines.

Do nurses get paid well in Australia?

Enrolled nurses get paid between $60-75,000 AUD per year. Meanwhile, the average income of a Registered nurse is around $79,094 per year or $40.56 per hour. Pay will vary depending on factors including; Your band & experience, the local health district, the type of organisation you work for (e.g. private v. public hospital, care home, community nurse, school nurse etc), how many hours per week you work and how much of those hours are considered ‘unsociable’.

Working on Saturdays will earn you time and a half, whilst working Sundays will see you getting double pay!

What are the highest paying Nursing Jobs in Australia?

Nurses’ salaries vary wildly depending on the field and experience. The highest paying nursing jobs in Australia according to Indeed are listed below with their National Average Salary in Brackets:

  1. Director of Nursing ($132,341)

  2. Nurse Practitioner ($123,501)

  3. Clinical nurse manager ($110,090)

  4. Certified registered nurse anaesthetist ($104,000)

  5. Clinical nurse specialist ($103,550)

  6. Pain management nurse ($99,282

  7. Clinical Nurse Educator ($97,872)

  8. Pediatric nurse ($86,710)

  9. Neonatal intensive care unit nurse ($84,004)

  10. Registered mental health nurse ($81,224)

What fields can you specialise in as a nurse?

Once you’ve built a few years’ worth of experience as a nurse, you can choose to specialise in a certain field of nursing. Specialising usually (but not always) leads to higher wage brackets and more responsibilities. You will find a specialist nurse in almost every medical field. Example areas of nursing specialisations include (but are by no means a comprehensive list):

  • medical nursing

  • aged care

  • mental health

  • aboriginal health

  • rural and remote nursing

  • surgical nursing

  • oncology nursing

  • neonatal nursing

  • cardiac nurse

  • certified registered nurse anaesthetist

  • critical care nurse

  • geriatric nursing

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