How to apply and become an Australia nurse.

A highlight of Nursing in Australia:

  1. The career path
  2. The take home nursing salaries monthly
  3. The Australia nursing working conditions
  4. How to apply for Australia nursing
  5. FAQs

In a nutshell, if you’re a foreign nurse who wants to work in Australia, you must have/be:

  • 36 months of paid clinical experience for the past five years
  • Educational equivalence that meets the standards of APHRA
  • Pass an English Proficiency Test (IELTS/OET/PTE/TOEFL)
  • Pass the MCQ or OSCE exams
  • Professional references

Section A: The career path

In Australia, there will be over 500,000 registered nurses by 2023. Among them, foreign nurses make about 30%. That amounts to about 118,000 migrant nurses who settled in Australia. More foreign nurses are expected to work and reside in Australia in the upcoming years. Review of Australian Nursing

In Australia, a nurse’s professional path possibilities include Registered Nurse, Enrolled Nurse, Nursing Assistant, and Nursing Practitioner. Although the educational requirements for each career vary, applying to Australia generally follows a similar procedure. What you should know about the many career paths and positions that nurses can pursue is provided here.

1. Registered Nurse

The Nursed and Midwives Board grants licences to Registered Nurses (RNs). An RN also carries a greater degree of accountability and professional obligation. A registered nurse (RN) can work as a team leader, nurse administrator, or unit manager. They are responsible for administering specialised nursing care, managing medications, and assessing patients.

2. Enrolled Nurse

A Registered Nurse is the one who directly oversees an Enrolled Nurse at work. Even though an enrolled nurse may work under an RN’s direct or indirect supervision, they are nevertheless accountable for their job duties.

In addition to helping with hygienic care and administering first aid, an enrolled nurse can provide nursing care by keeping an eye on a patient’s vital signs and blood sugar levels. If an enrolled nurse is working under their supervision, an RN may assign responsibilities to them as well. Typically, enrolled nurses complete a two-year Diploma in Enrolled Nursing programme.

3. Assistant In Nursing

In formal terms, an Assistant in Nursing (AIN) is not a nurse. On the other hand, an AIN works directly under the direction of a registered nurse. An AIN’s range of duties may include helping with personal hygiene, bathing, showering, taking sponge baths, tending to toilet needs, moving beds, and mobility support.

Other titles for assistants in nursing include personal care assistants, carers for the elderly, health service assistants, and care support personnel. Technical and Further Education (TAFE) is a prerequisite for becoming an AIN.

4. Nurse Practitioner

Finally, a registered nurse with an expanded clinical responsibility is known as a nurse practitioner. To become a nurse practitioner, you must complete extra coursework—typically 1-2 years—and obtain a valid certificate of practice. A Nurse Practitioner’s range of responsibilities may include, but is not limited to, writing prescriptions for medications and scheduling diagnostic testing.

Furthermore, you must finish at least three years of post-registration work in a specialist field. Evidence of clinical support is required to show that the employer is prepared to support an extended clinical practice at work.

Section B: The take home nursing salaries monthly

In Australia, becoming a nurse opens up many prospects and comes with a good wage. The location, work history, credentials, and seniority of the nurse may all affect their pay. The Australian nursing pay as of 2023 is shown below, based on gathered reports.

RoleLevelState / City – Estimated Annual Salary in Australian Dollars
Assistant in NursingEntry$45,968$52,026$57,649$51,980$54,392$53,378$52,300$51,040
Enrolled NurseEntry$54,620$54,548$62,382$56,287$54,996$58,628$61,658$61,856
Registered NurseEntry$63,960$61,776$67,697$65,822$67,697$64,928$67,984$69,922
Clinical NurseEntry$95,545$98,800$95,545$76,891$74,210$73,110$108,237$107,240
Nurse PractitionerEntry$123,812$121,160$130,713$116,263$116,070$97,494$131,034$107,240
Nurse Unit ManagerEntry$112,684$115,388$116,092$110,112$116,070$97,494$121,034$107,240
Director of NursingEntry$112,372$119,600$136,465$126,720$148,159$104,071$122,360$129,819

Source from Health Times Australia (Report as of 2023)

Section C: Working Conditions

  • Nurse-Patient Ratio: The patient-nurse ratio in Australia may vary. But to give you an idea, it may vary between 4:1 and 6:1. 
  • Hospital Equipment: Australia is renowned for possessing some of the world’s best and most cutting-edge medical facilities. You can anticipate contemporary, well-equipped hospitals and healthcare facilities if you work as a nurse in Australia.
  • Working Atmosphere: There is a scarcity of nurses in Australia. For this reason, we welcome international nurses with open arms. You should anticipate a cordial work environment.
  • Shifting: In Australia, shifts in hospitals and other healthcare facilities may vary. It may last for eight to twelve hours. It may also encompass weekends, public holidays, and evenings. There are usually two days off every week.
  • Patient Safety: It is anticipated that Australia has very high standards for patient safety. Australia’s healthcare sector is renowned for having some of the highest patient satisfaction scores.

Section D: How to Apply as a Nurse in Australia – The 5 steps

ANMAC (Immigration)

Applying through the General Skilled Migration Programme is possible for a foreign nurse. This is intended for families or skilled individuals who are thinking about moving permanently to Australia. Nurses can apply to live and work in Australia under the General Skilled Migration programme since there is a nursing shortage in the country.

Visa types under the General Skilled Migration Program are as follows:

  • 189 Visa: For skilled workers without any sponsor.
  • 190 Visa: For skilled workers sponsored by an Australian State or Australian Territory Government.
  • 491 Visa: For skilled workers sponsored by a family member.
  • Employer-Sponsored: For foreign nurses who will be sponsored by an Australian Employer. It can be a private hospital or healthcare facility.
  • NZ Independent Visa: If you’re a foreign nurse and a current New Zealand Citizen who wants to transfer to Australia.

The credentials of a nurse who is internationally qualified are evaluated by the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council (ANMAC). When determining whether a nurse satisfies the qualifications for a skilled migrant worker, the ANMAC evaluates the applicant’s qualifications.

NMBA (Registration) Assessments

You need to finish registering with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) in order to practise nursing in Australia. The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (APHRA) must then evaluate your credentials and skill set.

Even nurses who apply under the General Skilled Immigration Program should meet the standards of the APHRA. Further details will be discussed below about the requirements or criteria foreign nurses should meet. 

Important Notes to Remember:

  • It’s important to remember that APHRA nor the NMBA are not involved with employment matters. 
  • As per recommendation, do not quit your current job unless your registration eligibility is confirmed. 
  • Foreign nurses who can practice in New Zealand can apply through the NMBA online application. 
  • The timeframe for the whole application process may differ for each applicant. 

Here are the five criteria foreign nurses should meet to work and live in Australia. So make sure before you start applying, all these requirements are prepared. 

Criterion 1 – Proof of Identity

You need to prepare your documents for Proof of Identity. The documents you can prepare are:

  • Biostatistical page of your passport
  • Documentation for change name (e.g., Marriage Certificate, Decree Nisi, Deed Poll
  • A passport-sized photo that was taken within the past six months

Criterion 2 – English Language Proficiency

Since Australia is an English-speaking country, you need to prove that you can speak, listen, and comprehend the English language. You can choose to take either one of the tests stated below and meet the minimum score required:

  • IELTS (International English Language Testing System): You need a minimum score of 7 in each of the four components reading, listening, writing and speaking. 
  • OET (Occupational English Test for Nurses) with a minimum score of B in each of the four components reading, listening, writing and speaking. 
  • PTE (Pearson Test of English Academic) with a minimum overall score of 65 in each of the four components reading, listening, writing and speaking. 
  • TOEFL iBT (Test of English as a Foreign Language): You need to achieve a minimum score of 94, and the following minimum for each section — 24 reading, 24 listening, 27 writing and 23 speaking.

Criterion 3 – Educational Equivalence

A foreign nurse should meet the education requirements set by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA). All applicants should provide a transcript of records, diploma or a graduation certificate from their foreign nursing school. 

The transcript should have a breakdown of the number of hours in theoretical and clinical practice. Please note that the ANMAC may request additional documents that are not stated above. 

Foreign nurses with a bachelor’s degree in the following countries may meet the educational equivalence as a nurse in Australia:

  • Canada
  • Hong Kong
  • Republic of Ireland
  • United Kingdom
  • New Zealand
  • United States of America

Foreign nurses from countries not mentioned above will need further assessment of the education and clinical experience to determine if its deemed equivalent to the requirements set by the NMBA. 

Criterion 4 – Professional Practice

You must have at least 36 months of paid clinical experience within the last five years in order to practise as a professional. In addition to professional references, you must submit proof of your professional practice.

Reference should include: 

  • Official letterhead
  • It should be written by the direct supervisor, who is a nurse
  • Should be dated
  • Must contain an official signature

You also need to include the contact information of each reference person; this should include:

  • Official email address of the hospital (personal emails from Gmail or Yahoo are not accepted)
  • The contact number of the organisation (personal numbers are not accepted)
  • Make sure to follow the Professional Reference Template and provide it to your reference person. Make sure to meet the strict requirements of the ANMAC and follow the format. 

Criterion 5 – Fitness to Practice

The fifth criterion is you need to prove your Fitness to Practice. What does this mean? You need to prove that:

  • You have no past or pending disciplinary proceedings against you. 
  • There are no restrictions on your physical and mental capacity.
  • You should have no criminal history. 

Section E: Visa Type

APHRA registration certification is awaited if you satisfy the conditions. Getting a visa is the next step in order to live and work in Australia. The following visa categories are available for application if you can obtain sponsorship from your employer :

  • Temporary Skill Shortage Visa
  • Employer Nomination Scheme (Permanent Visa)
  • Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (Permanent Visa)
  • Occupational Trainee Visa
  • Business Short Stay Visa (subclass 456’ to allow you to undertake a bridging program to improve your skills)

If you are unable to get a sponsorship by an employer, you can apply for a General Skilled Migration Visa under the provisions of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship. 

Important Note: If you don’t meet ALL the five criteria mentioned above, you are not suitable for migration. If you don’t meet APHRA’s requirements, you can consider pursuing applying for another type of visa.

By law, the ANMAC cannot advise you on what you need to be suitable for migration — to find out the training and education requirements needed to become suitable, it is better to contact the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia.

Section F: Examination

To practice in Australia, foreign nurses (Registered Nurse and Enrolled Nurse) should go through two examinations: NCLEX and OSCE. 

  • NCLEX: The National Council Licensure Examination is a standardised, computerised test that the AHPRA requires for foreign nurses to get a license. 
  • OSCE: Objective Structured Clinical Exam is a clinical exam to assess if the candidate can demonstrate a graduate-level nurse’s skills, knowledge, and competence. 

Important Note: If you’re a foreign nurse, who have passed the NCLEX in Canada or the USA for the past ten years, you can apply for an NCLEX Score Transfer Process. You need to have your scores transferred before applying for registration in the APHRA. You can simply email your request of transfer to the Nursing Regulatory Body, where you have passed the NCLEX.

Section F: FAQs

How Can an International Nurse Work in Australia?

Australia accepts foreign nurses under the Employer Nomination Scheme. Foreign nurses who match APHRA’s requirements and qualifications and are under 50 years of age may be eligible for this visa. Applying under the Skilled Migration programme is one way to live and work in Australia without the need for employer sponsorship.

Is There a Demand for Nurses in Australia?

Indeed, Australia has a need for nurses. By 2030, it is anticipated that there will be a 120,000 nurse deficit. Australia’s ageing population will increase the need for nurses.

In Conclusion

In Australia, nurses are essential to the healthcare system because they give patients direct attention and support. They are vital to communities, clinics, and hospitals because they provide excellent treatment and enhance patient outcomes. The foundation of the healthcare workforce, nurses improve the lives of Australians on a daily basis via their knowledge, empathy, and commitment.

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