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How to become a nurse

How to become a nurse
Photo: Nursing student
Becoming a Nurse - What path will you take? 

Becoming a nurse is probably one of the most personally and professionally rewarding jobs that you can do.

Nurses are highly sought after within Australia and indeed throughout the world, and constant advances in new technologies make it one of the most exciting and challenging careers you could have.

Working within teams of professionals, nurses are responsible for caring for people who are in need.

They represent the needs of the patient and serve a wide variety of people with a multitude of illnesses, injuries or other problems.

Career opportunities?

Career opportunities for advancement are pretty much unlimited. As a fully qualified nurse you can advance your career and go on to specialise in many areas such as:
  • Coronary care
  • Intensive care
  • Child and family health
  • Aged Care
  • Accident and Emergency (A&E) nursing
  • Occupational healthcare
  • Mental healthcare
  • Paediatrics
  • Surgical nursing
  • Midwifery, as well as
  • Remote community nursing

In addition there are opportunities to advance further into management roles, research or indeed teaching.

Enrolled Nurses (EN) versus Registered Nurses (RN)

Aside from midwifery there are two main types of nurse and these are Enrolled Nurses (EN's - sometimes referred to as Division 2 nurses in Victoria) and Registered Nurses (RN's). The difference being that RN's have had longer in-depth training and are potentially more skilled than EN's.  As a result an RN can  have more responsibility and are paid accordingly.

So how do you become an RN?
In order to become a fully qualified RN students will have to take a Bachelor of Nursing Degree. This is a three year course and is open to anyone who is 17 or over and has completed their HSC (or equivalent) with an appropriate ATAR score.

What about an EN?

For those who simply don't want to wait for three years to get into nursing, then students can join as an EN. By taking the Diploma of Nursing or the Certificate IV of Nursing you can become a qualified Enrolled Nurse within 12 – 18 months.   

What does a newly Enrolled Nurse do on a daily basis?

An EN's job can be varied and on any given day they can be asked to do a number of tasks and duties. These can range from the physical and emotional support of patients, through to more complex levels of care and can include:

  • Preparing patients for PAP smears, plaster casts, suturing, minor excisions
  • Performing observations and measurements including temperature, blood pressure, pulse observations and urine testing
  • Performing various treatments as asked by a doctor or Registered Nurse (RN) including dressing and wound care
  • Helping patients with meals, washing and toiletry functions
And an RN?

As a fully qualified Registered Nurse you can be expected to:

  • Help set up treatment plans for patients
  • Observe and discuss patients with other professionals and chart patients symptoms and medical history
  • Administer medication
  • and much more

What about Salaries?

A newly qualified EN can expect to earn between $58,000 and $70,000 per annum. Whereas a freshly qualified RN earns on average $65,000 rising to $90,000. Pay scales do alter slightly from state to state and from the public through to the private sector. Visit what do nurses earn for more information.


Entering into nursing is a demanding role which takes a lot of commitment, physical fitness and drive. However it can be a great long term career choice that's not only rewarding, but one that can also take you as far as you want it to.


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