Nursing is one of the most in-demand professions in Australia. Currently, the country is home to nurses from all over the world. Various projections show a further increase in demand over the next few years.
There are many reasons one might want to work as a nurse in Australia. One is job security. Australia’s population is aging, which means that the country is always on the lookout for foreign health workers to fill its hospitals. It won’t be too hard to find open positions, especially if you have a specialization. Another reason is the pay. On average, nurses make around 73,000 Australian Dollars or about 54,000 USD. Living in Australia also means you get to enjoy its sunny beaches and laid-back culture.
Because Australia is actively seeking foreign nurses, the process for becoming a registered nurse there is relatively transparent. Registered nurses can apply for visas prior to securing employment. The Australian government classified nursing as a skilled profession, which makes it a lot easier to get a visa. Australians are also generally accepting of foreigners, so you shouldn’t have too many problems adapting. Let us take a look at the steps to becoming a nurse in Australia!
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Steps to Becoming a Nurse in Australia
1. Get a Nursing Education
Nurses in Australia are required to have at least a bachelor’s degree in the field. In most cases, you’ll need to have studied for a minimum of three years. Foreign degrees are assessed on a case-to-case basis and in conjunction with other factors like employment history. However, a degree from certain countries simplifies the process of getting registered.
If you studied in a country like the US, the UK, New Zealand, Hong Kong, etc., your degree is likely to be transferrable to the Australian system. However, even if your education is deemed insufficient on its own to practice nursing in the country, it’s still possible to become a registered nurse. More on this later.
Of course, the most straightforward step is to study nursing in Australia. Most undergraduate programs there take three years to complete as opposed to the standard four, which gives you a head start. The country is home to several well-regarded universities. Aspiring nurses should consider the University of Melbourne, the University of Sydney, and the University of Technology Sydney. If you have an undergraduate degree in another field, you may be eligible for a nursing master’s degree in Australia.
2. Take an English Proficiency Test
As is the case with most countries, the next step to becoming a nurse in Australia is to take an English proficiency test. You’ll need to demonstrate your proficiency in the local language, in this case English. You can choose to take the IELTS, OET, PTE Academic, or the TOEFL Internet-Based Test. It’s possible to take different tests to satisfy the requirements (e.g., speaking, writing, listening), but you’ll need to take all of them within two years of applying to be registered.
Of course, if you’re from a country where the native language is English like the US or the UK, you are exempt from this requirement.
3. Have Your Skills Assessed
The next step to becoming a nurse in Australia is to measure your skils. The bodies that regulate the nursing profession in Australia are the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency, or AHPRA, and the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, or the NMBA. These organizations are responsible for determining whether foreign nurses are of the required standard to work there.
To become a registered nurse, you’ll need to submit documents to both the AHPRA and the NMBA. This includes your education, previous work experience, English language proficiency, previous criminal record, etc. It’s best to check the websites of both organizations for a full list of requirements.
Whether you’re immediately granted Registered Nurse status is highly dependent on where you’re from. Often, rather than being registered outright, you’ll be recommended to take a bridging program or an outcome-based assessment. Whether or not you get recommended is also highly dependent on your work experience. If you’ve been employed as a nurse for at least two years, you have a good chance.
4. Take a Bridging Program and/or Outcome Based Assessment (Not Always Required)
Traditionally, Australia has used bridging programs to make sure that skilled foreigners are trained in the Australian way of doing things. That is one of the most important steps to becoming a nurse in the country. For nurses, you can find a list of accredited bridging programs on the NMBA’s website.
The Australian government is slowly phasing out the bridging program for nurses in favor of an outcome-based assessment, or OBA. This involves passing the NCLEX-RN and the OSCE. The former is a written test on the different aspects of nursing, while the latter is a practical exam where you’ll be assessed on how well you can carry out relevant tasks under time pressure.
As previously mentioned, this requirement is often waived if you received your education in certain countries. There is no defined list of these, but the US, the UK, and other Commonwealth countries are often your best bets as their programs are comparable to those in Australia.
5. Gain Legal Permission to Work in Australia
After becoming a registered nurse in Australia, the final step is to apply for a work visa with the Australian Department of Home Affairs. There are a number of options available to nurses. If you haven’t found a job yet but would like to move to Australia, you can apply for a 189 Skilled Independent Visa, 190 Skilled Nominated Visa, or a 491 Skilled Regional Provisional Visa. Depending on the type of visa, you may need to be sponsored by an Australian state’s government.
If you’ve already secured employment, your company can sponsor you for a 482 Temporary Skill Shortage Visa or a 186 Employer Nomination Scheme Visa.
I hope that this article on the Steps to Become a Nurse in Australia was helpful. For more information, visit the Australia Scholarships Page.