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Facts & figures

Facts and figures

  • Registered nurses One of the top three employing roles in Australia in 2019
  • 42,600 Number of new nursing jobs created in 2019
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How to become a nurse

Steps to becoming a registered nurse in Australia

Becoming a registered nurse (RN) is a straightforward process. After completing the HSC, you must study an accredited tertiary degree and then register as an RN through the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA).

University of Sydney nursing student stands in the Charles Perkins Centre.

Find out everything you need to know about how to pursue a career in Australia’s fast-growing healthcare sector and make a meaningful impact to society as a nurse.

1. Graduate from high school

In order to be considered for entry into a tertiary education program in nursing, students must have completed the HSC or another state-based equivalent. Some universities, will also require you to have completed prerequisite subjects. At Sydney the only nursing course with a prerequisite is the Bachelor of Science and Master of Nursing, the other courses have none. 

2. Study a Bachelor of Nursing

To become a nurse, you must complete an accredited Bachelor of Nursing degree at University. Accreditation is granted by the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council and approved by the NMBA.

For recent school leavers, the University of Sydney offers an NMBA accredited three-year program called the Bachelor of Nursing (Advanced Studies).

This course provides students with the scientific and health related knowledge and skills required for a career in nursing. You will also gain over 800 hours of clinical experience. The unique advanced studies component of the course also helps students to cultivate non-technical skills in leadership, research and a better understanding of the international health landscape. In 2021, this course will be taught out of the new Susan Wakil Health Building.

For guaranteed entry into this course, students must achieve an ATAR of 84, or IB of 30. There is also an English language requirement depending on your educational background and country of origin.

The University of Sydney also offers combined degrees for students who wish to pursue their broader interests in science, health or the arts, in addition to nursing. These are four-year programs. You may choose from:

-       Bachelor of Science/ Master of Nursing

-       Bachelor of Science (Health)/ Master of Nursing

-       Bachelor of Arts/ Master of Nursing

For those who may be looking for a career change and have already completed an undergraduate degree in an area different to nursing, the University offers a Master of Nursing.

This two-year accredited program also comprises health theory and hands-on practical experience.

3. Complete an application to the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia

After graduating with a nursing degree from a tertiary institution, all nurses are required to apply for registration to practice through the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia.

The application fee for recent graduates is $88, but may change. This registration must be updated yearly with a renewal fee charged each time.

In order for your application to be successful, all nurses must meet the mandatory registration requirements as set out by the NMBA. This includes requirements relating to criminal history, English language skills, continuing professional development, recency of practice and professional indemnity insurance.

Qualified nurses from overseas who hold a valid working visa are also eligible to apply for registration to the NMBA. You must be registered before you can be made a job offer. To gain sponsorship it’s best to have at least two years of experience as a nurse in your home country.

4. Pursue specialist education to continue progressing in your career

Registered nurses can go on to pursue careers in a number of different health specialities, including emergency nursing, mental health nursing and cancer and haematology nursing just to name a few.

Many speciality areas look favourably on applicants who have completed postgraduate education in these fields as this additional study helps nurses to build on their clinical experience, knowledge and skills. It also assists nurses to extend their capabilities for professional practice and leadership.

Further study is essential if you are looking to take the next step in your career and advance to a role as a clinical nurse specialist, nurse educator, clinical nurse consultant or nurse practitioner. These leadership roles support you to deliver sophisticated, complex care, take on extra responsibilities and often attract a higher salary.

At the University of Sydney, the following specialty programs are offered to registered nurses:

-        Advanced nursing practice

-        Cancer and haematology nursing

-        Emergency nursing

-        Intensive care nursing

-        Mental health nursing

-        Primary health care nursing

-        Master of Nursing (Nurse Practitioner)

10 March 2020

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