I have been a registered nurse for eight years. In this time, I have worked in the hospital system for one year, in a government health organisation for two years and in General Practice for five years.
The job market in NSW is very lucrative for registered nurses. It really depends on the type of work you want to do. There are plenty of options for hospital work, both in the public and private sector or join an agency and they will slot you in when usual staff go on leave or are sick. I believe agency nurses have a higher rate of pay. Personally, I moved out of the hospitals as I am not suited to that type of shift work and night duty, however this nursing work pays more than community nursing or general practice nursing and has the benefits of extra pay (time and a half) on night shifts and double pay on Sundays and public holidays.
There is a huge demand for nurses in hospitals at the moment. Particularly in aged care facilities and rural and remote facilities. I have recently seen on the news that there will be a shortfall of nurses (particularly Enrolled Nurses) in the coming years – so it would appear that the job prospects are just getting better!
If you don’t want to be in hospital but still want a clinical focus, you can join community nursing or General Practice. Community nursing is with public or private sector and focuses on wound dressings, home IV medications, or at home injectable medications and health assessments. You have a base (usually in a hospital) but also work in conjuction with the patients GP (e.g. if you are doing a wound dressing and believe the wound to be infected, you will contact the patients GP). Although I have not done this work, anecdotally from community nurses it is fairly cruisey, with a good pay rate and the benefits of no night shifts!
General Practice is my passion. Unlike some countries, patients can go to any GP anywhere and don’t have to register. The practice nurses duties vary depending on the needs of the clinic but general speaking day-to-day activities include chronic disease management, wound care, immunisations (childhood and travel) pap smears (if you are qualified), triage, diagnostic tests (ECG’s, spirometry etc), pathology collection, assistance with procedures, patient education, health assessments, sterilizing and stock control. The rate of pay is negotiable with your employer but base pay is less than hospital nurses as it is governed under a different award.
Non-clinical based nursing duties are also prevalent. Jobs such as working with insurance companies who offer a medical assistance hotline; policy development; pharmaceutical representative work are all quite popular and are not governed under nursing award rates so I am unsure of the pay but from what I hear you can negotiate and often come off better than clinical nursing and work a 9-5 Monday – Friday in most cases.
The Australian Health Practitioner Registration Agency (AHPRA) ensures all doctors, nurses, midwives, ambulance officers, surgeons etc are registered and have correct qualifications.
As a nurse, you will have to do 20 hours per year of continuous professional development (CPD). Make sure you keep a record as people do get audited quite frequently and it is a lot easier if you have a record ready to go. There are rules about what counts toward it but there are always educational events on or online learning tools so it is quite easy.
Pay and Governing Bodies
Nursing in Australia is governed under the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia. The website lists professional standards, awards of pay, registration and endorsement and further study options.
Pay is variable dependent on your level of nursing, which is measured on your qualifications (i.e. Assistant in Nursing; Enrolled Nurse; Endorsed Enrolled Nurse; Registered Nurse; Clinical Nurse Educator etc).
The next classification is your experience. It is basically on how many years you have been qualified. Pay increases with experience. This ranking goes from first year nurse through to 8 years experience. More than 8 years is classified as “thereafter”.
It is then classified into location, (e.g. hospital, community, general practice or non clinical)
General Practice nursing is governed but the Australian Practice Nurses Association (APNA). There is a fee (I think about $150 annually) to join but you get access to lots of educational materials, phone support and legal advice.
Generally speaking, your place of employment covers you for basic indemnity insurance which will cover anything in your position description. It is worthwhile thinking about taking our your own insurance (people in NSW general go for the NSW Nursing and Midwifery Council).
Nursing pay rates – public hospital
Nursing in Australia is amazing! We are so lucky to have access and provide healthcare needs to anyone who needs it. Yes, there are waiting lists for things like always and you will need to find a workplace that suits you but it is amazing to be part of a profession where you are in high demand, are able to provide care for people in need in a developed country with some of the leading healthcare facilities is incredible!