The increasing demand for nurses and the variety of nursing job opportunities in Australia, due to its country’s size, climate, geography, and population, make Australia a great place for nurses to find work in. Many nurses choose to work in the country due to the competitive salary and benefits for nurses. Nurses who wish to work in the country must pass any of the accredited English language proficiency tests, and the Outcome Based Assessment. They must also be able to prove their overall fitness to practice safely in the country.
About the Country
Australia is a very large country; in fact, it is about the size of Europe. However, despite this, the majority of the individuals live along the coast, and the middle of the country is highly depopulated. Around 75 percent of the people live in cities, which are not entirely urban. This is due to the number of beaches, city parks, and green spaces in these areas. The beaches in the city are properly maintained, and the areas around the coast in these cities are also highly developed. Due to these, individuals spend a lot of time outside. Even during winter, the weather is frequently bright and warm. Australians are also recognized for their passion for sports, both as participants and spectators. In fact, sporting events are even often discussed.
Australia frequently ranks in the top ten most expensive countries in the world. Since it is an island, it must import many products, and while the growth of shopping locally is highlighted, costs remain significantly higher than in most other countries. Due to this, the salaries in the country are also high, in order to accommodate the greater expense of living. Therefore, the costs of living may seem quite expensive to foreign tourists.
Despite the time consuming immigration process in Australia, there are more than 1,000 nurses, who obtained their nursing education in the Philippines, working in Australia during 2001 to 2006. In fact, the Philippines was the second major source country for international nurses, whereas the United Kingdom and Ireland were the first major source. Furthermore, with the great number of Filipino nurses in the country, the Philippine Health Care Association of Australia (PHCAA) and Philippine Nurses Association – Australia (PNAAust) were established. These associations aim to “create a positive image and provide direction and opportunities” to the Filipino healthcare workers in Australia.
Type of Nurses
The types of nurses in Australia are registered nurses (RN), enrolled nurses (EN), assistants in nursing, clinical nurses, midwives, and nurse practitioners.
Registered Nurse (RN)
To become a registered nurse, you must complete a four-year degree in nursing. The job of an RN entails attending to and caring for patients, and dispensing drugs to patients. They are the only type of nurses allowed to work with prohibited drugs.
Enrolled Nurse (EN)
Enrolled nurses provide physical and emotional care, as well as give medications to patients. They are able to work in various clinical specialties, such as medical, surgical, mental health, pediatrics, orthopedics, rehabilitation, oncology, operating theaters, rural and remote, emergency and community healthcare settings.
Assistant in Nursing
Assistants in nursing are responsible for the daily care and healthcare needs of patients under the supervision of an RN or an LPN. Their job includes feeding, bathing and fulfilling other general tasks for patients.
Clinical nurses are members of the senior nursing team in the acute care setting. Their primary responsibilities include observing changes in patients’ health, interpreting clinical data, diagnosing and analyzing complicated health problems, and determining a treatment plan for critically ill or wounded patients.
A midwife is a health care provider who has been educated to assist and care for women during their pregnancy, labor, and delivery. Midwives give care and support to women and their families while they are pregnant, throughout labor, and after the baby is born.
A Nurse Practitioner (NP) is an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) who has earned a Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) (DNP). They might work as a primary care or specialty care practitioner. They might work as main or specialized care providers, and they usually cater to a specific demographic, such as families, children, or the elderly. They concentrate on health promotion and disease prevention in their patients as clinicians.
Demand for Nurses
Despite statistics showing that, as of March 2021, there are 336,000 registered nurses in Australia, the country’s demand for nurses remains high and continues to rise. One of the factors that heavily influences the great demand would be the country’s population demographics, as the population continues to age. The ongoing pandemic also adds up to the high demand for nurses. In fact, it is estimated that by 2030, 120,000 more nurses will be needed in the country.
Most registered nurses in Australia have a salary of $79,946 (₱3,168,067.39) at the beginning of their career, while consultant nurses could earn as much as $118,484 (₱4,695,235.49). The wage highly varies based on the location, qualifications and work experience of the nurse. The location where a nurse chooses to work greatly affects the salary. There are more registered nurses in the urban areas, therefore the employers would have more nurses to choose from, whereas less nurses choose to work in rural areas. With this, the higher demand in these areas causes the healthcare providers to pay more for these communities to be served.
The hospitals in Australia are classified into two major categories: Public and Private Hospitals.
The public hospitals in Australia provide high-quality medical services at no cost. They are more widely accessible and provide a wider range of services than private hospitals. Public hospitals may provide better medical care for your disease than private hospitals, and they are typically better able to manage more difficult situations. Public hospitals in Australia include Alpha Hospital, Barham Hospital, and Royal Brisbane & Women’s Hospital.
There are more options for treatment if treated at a private hospital. For instance, it is possible to select your own physician and your doctor may only operate at a private hospital in particular instances. Private Hospitals in Australia include Delmont Private Hospital, Southern Highlands Private Hospital, Forster Private Hospital, and St. Luke’s Hospital.
In order to be able to work as a nurse in the Australia, one must fulfill the following qualifications:
In order to successfully apply as a nurse in Australia, you must be a holder of a bachelor’s degree in nursing, with educational equivalence that meets the standards of the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), and you must also have an active nursing license.
Nurses, with a bachelor degree at level 7 or a diploma (level 5), and are a registered first level nurse in Canada, Hongkong, Republic of Ireland, United Kingdom, New Zealand, and the United States of America are likely to meet the qualifications to become a registered nurse in Australia. According to the NMBA, nursing credentials from Belgium, Flanders, Chile, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, and Singapore may fulfill the quality assurance and certification standards in Australia. However, acquiring only a diploma from any of these countries would require the applicant to undergo further education or experience in order to assess whether their skills would qualify them to become a registered nurse in the country.
The applicant must have undergone 36 months of paid clinical experience for the past five years prior to becoming a nurse in Australia. Evidence of professional practice and professional references must be provided. The reference to be submitted must be written and officially signed by the direct nurse supervisor. It must be an official letterhead, and should be dated. In addition, the contact information of each reference person must also be provided, ensuring that the official email address of the hospital, contact number of the organization are stated. Take note that personal emails and personal phone numbers are not allowed. The Professional Reference Template must be strictly followed.
In order to be eligible for registration, the applicant must meet necessary registration standards in the following aspects: criminal history, english language skills, continuation of professional development, professional indemnity insurance arrangements, and the recency of practice.
International nurses who wish to work in Australia must be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA). The applicant must also meet the NMBA’s registration standards to be able to practice in the country. In addition, the applicant’s qualifications and experience will be assessed by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (APHRA).
The NMBA launched a new assessment model in March 2020, which includes an online self-check, an orientation program, and an outcome-based assessment. The three criteria for the self-check are qualification recognized for registration, quality assurance and accreditation, and academic level of qualification. The orientation program consists of two parts: Part 1, which is a web learning course that discusses Australian healthcare, and Part 2, which is a more thorough online introduction. Part 2 can only be completed upon registration with the NMBA.
Proof of Identity
Documents for the Proof of Identity must be submitted. These include the biostatistical page of passport, passport-sized photo that was recently taken within the past six months, and documentation for any name changes, such as marriage certificates, decree nisi, or deed polls.
English Proficiency Test
International nurses who wish to work in Australia must be proficient in the English language. They may choose to take any of the following tests:
International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
The IELTS is an exam that aims to assess the applicant’s overall ability in communicating in the English language. A minimum score of 7 is required in each of the four sections: reading, listening, writing, and speaking. You may find practice tests on the IELTS website.
Occupational English Test for Nurses (OET)
The OET is used to test the applicant’s ability to communicate in the English language in a healthcare setting. The Australian Healthcare Councils/Boards/Agencies for healthcare professionals has set specific score requirements for the OET as criteria for eligibility for medical professionals, such as doctors, nursing professionals, dentists, etc. A minimum grade of B for all 4 sub-tests (listening, reading, writing, speaking) is required for the application.
Pearson test of English Academic (PTE)
The PTE is the world’s first computer-based English language test for international study and migration. A minimum overall score of 65 is required in each of the four sections: reading, listening, writing and speaking.
Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL iBT)
The TOEFL iBT is an exam that measures the ability of the applicant to use and comprehend English at a university level. An overall minimum score of 94 is necessary for the nurse’s application. However, a minimum score of 24 for the reading and listening sections is also required, as well as a score of 27 or higher in the writing section, and a score of 23 or higher in the speaking section.
For internationally qualified nurses and midwives, who hold an international nursing qualification that is relevant to but not substantially equivalent to or based on similar competencies to an Australian approved qualification, the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) transitioned to an Outcome-Based Assessment (OBA) system. In addition to this, the applicant must also show that they satisfy the necessary registration requirements.
Computer-based Multiple Choice Exam (MCQ)
The OBA is a two-stage assessment process, wherein the first stage is a cognitive assessment that consists of a computer-based multiple choice exam (MCQ). The MCQ aims to assess the professional knowledge of the candidate. For registered nurses (RN), the MCQ exam is the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). The NCLEX is an exam that assesses the applicant’s ability to practice as an entry-level nurse. It is designed in a comprehensive manner, wherein it tackles a wide range of nursing concepts and utilizes a computer adaptive testing (CAT) technology to deliver the exam. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) delivers the NCLEX-RN through Pearson VUE test centers, which are found in most countries. The registration fee for the MCQ is $200 USD, with an additional payment for the International Scheduling fee of $150 USD.
Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE)
The second stage is an Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE), which is a behavioral evaluation of an international nurse’s knowledge and skills as to whether they are equivalent to that of a graduate-level Australian nurse. The OSCE is an exam that aims to test the practice and clinical skills of a student in a standardized medical scenario. The fee for taking the OSCE test is AUD 4,000.
Fitness to Practice
A foreign nurse must be fit to practice, which can be proved by ensuring that no past or pending disciplinary proceedings have been filed against the individual. In addition, no restrictions on both physical and mental health must also be proven. Lastly, a foreign nurse must not have any criminal history in order to work in the country.
Prepare all the necessary documents and requirements stated above in advance, to ensure that you will not encounter any delays during your application process. Study for the tests, and take them carefully to get an excellent score. Afterwards, once you are deemed as eligible to work in the country, you’re ready to become a foreign nurse in Australia! Good luck!
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