The Australian Process

I thought it fair for any budding young Nurses, and for our Brothers and Sisters overseas, to discuss the general process for becoming a Nurse here in Australia. It should be noted that there is more than one way to skin a cat, so though I may only talk about the Bachelor of Nursing, there are other choices, but I will include the links to our Registration Authority the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Authority (AHPRA).

The process in Australia depends on what type of Nurse, or carer, you wish to become, the following are the main classifications;

  • Personal Carer Assistant (PCA) or Assistant in Nursing (AIN) – These care workers are non-registered members of the team, they generally hold a Certificate 3 in their field and assist with the Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) and general duties around the facility or ward.
  • Enrolled Nurse (EN) – The first level of Registration, sometimes referred to as Endorsed Enrolled Nurses (EENs) or Division 2 Nurses. These Nurses deal with the care of the client, administer medications, conduct observations and assist the Registered Nurse with the construction of Care Plans.
  • Registered Nurse (RN) – The Registered Nurse, sometime referred to as a Division 1 Nurse. These Nurses conduct all the above duties of an EN with the overarching responsibility of the client, along with the extended scope to include Intravenous Therapy (IV) and a myriad of other Clinical Skills.
  • Midwives – The Midwife is a specialty that deals entirely with the Pregnant and Birthing activities.
  • Nurse Practitioner (NP) – A Nurse Practitioner is a highly specialised position, it is generally considered the “Nurses Doctor”, they have the ability to write scripts within their field and within specified parameters, have the ability to diagnose and complete care plans and treatment plans beyond that of a RN.

The regulatory authority for all Health Professionals in Australia

The Education requirements of the above are, thankfully, reasonably straightforward. They do however change from time to time, AHPRA does have a search function to enable you to check that the course of study you are going to undertake will meet the requirements of your chosen Registration, currently though the study requirements are;

  • PCA or AIN – No formal requirements, however to be gainfully employed most employers will insist on a Certificate 3 in Aged Care, Personal Care or similar, depending on what field you are entering. This course takes about 6 months and finishes with a 3 Week unpaid placement.
  • EN – A Diploma of Nursing. This course takes 18 months and contains 3 placements totalling 10 Weeks unpaid placement.
  • RN – A Bachelor of Nursing, some Universities offer a Bachelor of Science (Nursing) and this is also acceptable, however check to ensure your Universities course is approved by AHPRA. This course takes 3 Years and contains a number of placements totalling 20 Weeks unpaid placement.
  • Midwife – There are several options open to Midwives, with either the Bachelor of Midwifery or a Graduate Certificate in Midwifery. There is a varied amount of placement that is required but averages around the 20 week mark.
  • NP – Either a Masters of Nursing or Masters of Clinical Nursing. This course takes between 18 months and 2 years, depending on institution, and as such the placement requirements vary as well. It should also be noted that generally to become a NP, you have to be nominated and supported for the position.

There are avenues at some Universities to complete a Diploma of Nursing and then transition to a Bachelor of Nursing with some of the study time and placement requirements taken off. I am, for example, currently studying my Diploma of Nursing with CQUniversity and intend on ‘rolling over’ into my Bachelor of Nursing in 2018. This process has been made easy with CQUniversity as they have a tailored program based around that exact pathway.

After completing the requisite study, the process continues with AHPRA and you file for Registration, completing forms, proving identity and the like. There is a Professional Development requirement every year depending on your level of registration and an annual review process. But thats the process for Australian Nurses, I hope this helps future Nurses understand what they are in for, and explains the process for our Overseas Brothers and Sisters in Arms. What’s the process for your Country, does it differ? Do you have questions? Post in the comments below.

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