How to get a job in nursing in Australia

How to get a job in nursing in Australia

Nursing in Australia

What's nursing in Australia like? Australia is a beautiful country, with everything from multicultural cities with great food and nightlife, to the jaw-dropping natural beauty of the outback, to some of the best beaches in the world. It also has an advanced economy, lots of employment opportunities, and a world-class health care system.

Australia is a popular tourist and immigration destination for good reason. So how can you work as a nurse in Australia? What's nursing like in Australia? How does it compare to places like the UK? It's a big move, but fortunately there's a clear path.

What's the healthcare system like in Australia?

Australia has a world-class universal healthcare system, but of course no system is perfect. It's helpful to compare nursing in Australia to a country with a similar healthcare system - the United Kingdom.

In Australia, the nurse to patient ratio varies, but in the state of Victoria (where Melbourne is located), Queensland (where Brisbane is located) and the Australian Capital Territory the minimum nurse to patient ratios in public hospitals for general medicine patients in the ward is 1:4 for morning and afternoon shift and up to 1:8 for night shift. Not all states have mandated patient to nurse ratios, but it seems most states want it.

Nurse:patient ratios in Australia are often 1:4 during day shifts.

In the UK, the NHS has resisted moves to have mandated nurse to patient ratios. So in general, your workload will not be as heavy in Australia. Of course, different hospitals and specialties have their own challenges, and may have larger than average caseloads. In rural areas, you may not have access to the resources and staff you would in a metropolitan hospital.

Private healthcare is more common in Australia, with many Australians taking out private health insurance so they have more choice of hospitals, doctors and shortened waiting times.

Australia generally has longer wait times for elective or non-emergency surgery, but better cancer and heart attack outcomes.

Requirements for nursing in Australia

Qualification assessment

To work as a nurse in Australia, you'll need a Bachelor of Nursing. Australia has required RNs to have a degree since the 90s.

If you've completed your education as a nurse outside of Australia, and you're migrating to Australia to work as a nurse or midwife, you'll need to have your qualifications assessed by the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council (ANMAC) to make sure they comply with Australian standards for nursing education.

Basically, if you have a degree in nursing from Canada, Hong Kong, Ireland, the United Kingdom or the United States (that is, an English-speaking country) and hold registration as a registered nurse in your home country, then you only need to apply for a Full Skills Assessment. It's not a face-to-face test, you'll need to submit your education documents, proof of registration as a nurse, proof you've worked as a nurse overseas, and identity documents. You do this online, pay the fee, and wait for the results. As long as you meet the criteria, you'll be approved.

If you're from New Zealand, the process is similar but shortened. It's called the Modified Skills Assessment.

If you don't meet the above criteria, your assessment may lead to you being asked to take a bridging course in an Australian university. This means even though you may have a number of years experience overseas, you will still need to complete further studies in Australia. The bridging courses could be 12 to 18 months, or shorter, depending on ANMAC's assessment. Since you would essentially be on a student visa in Australia, you will need to consider the financial commitments of studying abroad, such as education costs, food, housing, transport and so on.

In addition, if you're from a non-English speaking country, you'll need to pass an English competency test such as IELTS.

Professional registration

So you have completed all the steps needed with ANMAC. Does this mean you are registered nurse now? Almost.

ANMAC don't actually register nurses, they assess qualifications. With your approved qualification in hand, you can now apply to be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA), which is a part of the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). For the purposes of this post, NMBA and AHPRA are the same thing.

The application to AHPRA includes providing personal and professional details, such as the skills assessment outcome and English language proficiency test results (if necessary). You'll need to pay the registration fee.

Then, you'll need to wait a little. Applications can take a few months, so be patient.

Once you're approved, you're set to work as a registered nurse in Australia! Note, this registration needs to be reviewed annually.

Visas for nursing in Australia

If you are applying to work in Australia, you'll find there is a dizzying number of visa paths. It's outside the scope of this blog post to discuss all the visa details, so we'd recommend the simpler option - talk to us at Mediserve, we may be able to sponsor your visa.

Visa sponsorship

Mediserve has the ability to provide temporary sponsorship. There's a few things we need to know though, such as:

  • do you have nurse work experience (a minimum of 1-2 years)?
  • is the position in a nursing area of need, such as emergency, or midwifery? Due to shortages, even general medical/surgical nurses are being sponsored because of the skill shortage.
  • are you flexible to work around Australia where the need is greatest?
  • are you highly professional, and do you have strong character and professional references?

If you meet the above criteria, we may be able to help sponsor you.

Employment Opportunities

So you've decided you want to move to Australia and work as a nurse - what's the employment situation for nurses in Australia? What job opportunities are available?

Nursing is a fantastic career in Australia, with job opportunities available in both the public and private sectors. Nurses can work in hospitals, aged care facilities, GP clinics or specialist practices. There is a high demand for nurses in Australia, particularly in regional areas.

Overall, there are plenty of job opportunities available for nurses in Australia - especially those with experience and specialty qualifications. Increasing demand for healthcare services means that new positions often become available quickly; making it easy to find employment if you’re looking to start your Australian career as a nurse soon!

Common roles for nursing in Australia

Some of the common nursing roles in Australia include:

  1. Registered Nurse (RN): RNs provide direct patient care and work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, aged care facilities, and community health centers.
  2. Enrolled Nurse (EN): ENs work under the supervision of RNs and assist with patient care and administration tasks. They may work in similar settings as RNs.
  3. Nurse Practitioner (NP): NPs have advanced training and can diagnose and treat patients, prescribe medication, and refer patients to other healthcare professionals. They may work in primary care or specialty clinics.
  4. Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS): CNSs have advanced training in a particular area of nursing, such as oncology, pediatrics, or critical care. They provide expert advice and support to other nurses and may work in hospitals or clinics.
  5. Nurse Educator: Nurse Educators teach and train other nurses and nursing students in academic or clinical settings.
  6. Nurse Researcher: Nurse Researchers conduct research studies to improve patient care and outcomes.

Rural and remote nursing in Australia

What's it like to work as a nurse in remote and rural areas of Australia? Nurses can explore the beauty of the country while getting paid, work closely with smaller communities, and broaden their professional experience with new challenges. Rural and remote nursing positions are available throughout Australia, and Mediserve offers assistance with transportation, accommodation, and other perks. We're flexible and supportive!

Nurse salary in Australia

As for your pay packet, Australian nurses earn an average of around $80,000 per year (a little lower for new graduates, and much higher for experienced and specialised nurses). That's around £45,000 as of March 2023. UK nurses earn around £33,000 per year. In addition, Mediserve Nursing Agency offers additional benefits such as flexible working hours and lots of member perks for discounts with our corporate partners.

Continuing Professional Development

Since nursing in Australia is a regulated profession with professional development standards, nurses have many opportunities to learn and develop new skills. Nurses and midwives in Australia are expected to undertake a minimum number of continuing professional development (CPD) hours related to their area of expertise. Examples include:

  • Continuing Professional Development (CPD) - conferences, workshops, and seminars, online courses and webinars.
  • Postgraduate study - nurses can undertake postgraduate studies to specialise in areas such as aged care, mental health, and critical care.
  • Clinical placements - nurses can undertake clinical placements in areas outside of their usual work environment to broaden their skills and experience.
  • Mentorship and coaching - nurses can receive mentorship and coaching from more experienced colleagues to improve their skills and knowledge.
  • Leadership and management training - training in leadership and management enable nurses to develop their skills in these areas.

Nursing in Australia - Get Started Now!

Working as a nurse in Australia could change your life - with a world-class healthcare system, plenty of employment opportunities, and standard of living that is the envy of most countries. While the eligibility requirements and visa application process may seem daunting, there are clear pathways for nurses to obtain the necessary qualifications and registration to practice in Australia, and Mediserve may be able to sponsor you.

Register for job alerts with Mediserve so you can stay in the loop, and take the first step towards a successful career in nursing in Australia. With its diverse landscapes and cultures, Australia offers a unique experience for nurses seeking to broaden their horizons and make a positive impact on patients' lives. Let Mediserve help you get your dream career!