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3 high-demand nursing career specialisations in Australia's future

High demand rewarding nursing career
Photo: 3 High-Demand Nursing Career Specialisations in Australia's Future
Healthcare has long since been one of Australia’s most in-demand industries, a trend that’s expected to continue according to the Australian government, which is predicting a boom in the near future.

In particular, demand for qualified nurses is far exceeding supply in Australia, with current trends indicating an expected nursing shortage of more than 120,000 by 2030.

As our population ages, and its needs evolve, the need for specialist nurses is also changing.

While demand for nurses overall is expected to rise, there are three key areas of career specialisation that experts believe will be in particular demand in the near future.

Aged Care Nursing

The aged care industry is already experiencing a nursing shortage, and as the population continues to grow older, demand will only increase.
In fact, Australian government analysts are predicting that the number of Australians aged 65 and over will more than double by 2057.

“Aged care nurses are always in demand,” says Charles Darwin University Associate Professor and registered nurse Mel Underwood.

“With an ageing Australian population living longer and with chronic conditions, high level expertise in the care of older adults is essential to ensuring the health of our elder Australians.”

Associate Professor Underwood says there is a demand for both Registered and Enrolled Nurses in aged care settings.

“This is due to the ageing population structure in Australia, as well as advances in medical care, that mean people live longer with previously life limiting conditions.

Many nurses in this specialisation work in residential aged care facilities, but this wouldn’t be your only choice of work environments as an aged care nurse. It’s also possible to work as a home healthcare nurse, or to work in a hospital or community clinic setting.

“A day as a nurse in an aged care setting is varied depending on the level of care required by the residents,” says Associate Professor Underwood.

“This can range from minimal assistance with activities of daily living to fully dependent patient care.”

It is possible to become an Enrolled Nurse and get started doing this type of work with only an associate’s degree or diploma; however, in that case, your earning potential would be lower than it would be if you were to earn your bachelor’s degree and become a Registered Nurse.

“There are many qualifications available to enhance skills and knowledge in the areas of dementia care or palliative care which would improve job prospects in this area. 

“Additionally, qualifications in chronic conditions would be valuable.”

Mental Health Nursing

According to projections published by Health Workforce Australia, this sector is the one that is likeliest to suffer from the most dramatic worker shortages in the future.

“Mental health is a national health and research priority and as such, this is a growth area for healthcare workers,” says Associate Professor Underwood.

“There are not enough nurses to fill the demand in this area, in particular areas and in rural and remote settings.”

Mental Health nurses help their patients cope with a range of conditions, ranging from minor bouts of anxiety or stress, through to serious psychiatric disorders.

“This area is high demand for nurses due to the range of healthcare settings in which clients with mental health challenges access. 

“These cross over with general care settings, so knowledge and skills in mental health nursing are valuable across all nursing areas.

“A typical day depends on the setting of work.  This can be in a community doing home or clinic work, in a general hospital or in psychiatric inpatient units.”

To become a mental health nurse, you’ll need to complete a Bachelor of Nursing, at a minimum.

“It is highly valued by employers to hold postgraduate qualifications in mental health and there are a range available, from Graduate Certificate through to Master level study.”

Critical Care Nursing

By its very nature, critical care nursing is one area of specialisation that is always in demand.

In this fast-paced specialisation, nurses spend their time caring for patients whose lives are at risk because of emergency situations such as accidents, burns, traumas or illnesses.

This is a high-pressure job that would require quick reaction times to enable the best possible outcomes for patients.

The emotionally challenging nature of this job has resulted in high turnover of critical care nurses, meaning they are perpetually in demand.

“Critical care is an area of nursing that experiences consistent demand due to the nature of the work,” says Associate Professor Underwood.

“There are not enough nurses to fill the demand in this area, in particular areas and in rural and remote settings.
 
“Specialities within critical care are in high demand due to the technical and cognitive skills required to practice in these areas, such as intensive care and emergency.”

Most critical care nurses work in hospital settings – usually hospitals with intensive care units. A bachelor’s degree is essential for this role, and it is considered a minimum; many critical care nurses hold advanced degrees.

Associate Professor Underwood says there are a range of specific qualifications available, both work-based and via higher education, across all critical care specialties.
 
“There will always be demand for critical care nurses with strong technical knowledge and skills to carry out high level care for the most vulnerable and acutely unwell patients.”

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Nicole Madigan

Nicole Madigan is a widely published journalist with more than 15 years experience in the media and communications industries.

Specialising in health, business, property and finance, Nicole writes regularly for numerous high-profile newspapers, magazines and online publications.

Before moving into freelance writing almost a decade ago, Nicole was an on-air reporter with Channel Nine and a newspaper journalist with News Limited.

Nicole is also the Director of content and communications agency Stella Communications (www.stellacomms.com) and a children's author.