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How to become a nurse

The demand for nurses is now at an all-time high in Australia and across the world. Now is the perfect time to build yourself a rewarding and personally satisfying career.
Confident multiethnic male nurse in front of his medical team looking at camera wearing face mask during covid-19 outbreak. Happy and proud indian young surgeon standing in front of his colleagues wearing surgical mask for prevention against coronavirus. Portrait of mixed race doctor with medical staff in background at hospital.

Your training, care and compassion could make a real difference to those in need of support. A career in health services can lead you anywhere from disability support and nursing to Indigenous health care or aged care. One initiative to bolster our nursing workforce is the continuation of Free TAFE for our Diploma of Nursing course. This article will cover how to become a nurse in Australia, with the various pathways and benefits offered for budding nurses.

What is nursing?

Whether through the hospital, school or your local clinic, we’ve all been in contact with a nurse before. Nurses work within many health care environments and are responsible for various tasks such as:

  • Holistic care
  • Managing and administering medication
  • Clinical assessments
  • A range of nursing interventions
  • Performing physical exams

These tasks and many more make up the role of nurses as caregivers and collaborative support workers. The Australian healthcare system provides patients with a sensitive, empathetic, encouraging, informed and approachable port of call when seeking health services through quality nurses.

Types of nurses

The tasks and responsibilities fulfilled by nurses can vary depending on the type of nurse and area of employment you work within. Nurses can work in many different sectors and environments such as mental health, forensics, emergency services, rural or remote area settings, midwifery, paediatrics, aged care and intensive care. However, above all, nurses are primarily sorted into three categories:

  • Enrolled Nurses (ENs) - Requiring a minimum education level of a Diploma of Nursing, enrolled nurses (sometimes known as Division 2 nurses) work within teams under the direct supervision of a registered nurse.
  • Registered Nurses (RNs) - Requiring a minimum education level of a Bachelor of Nursing, registered nurses are responsible for direct patient care. They may also work in supervisory roles.
  • Nurse Practitioners (NPs) - The most senior and independent clinical nurses in Australia’s health system. A nurse practitioner requires a Master's level qualification and has the experience, expertise and authority to diagnose and treat people of all ages with a broad range of acute or chronic health conditions.

At SWTAFE, we prepare our students for entry into the workforce as enrolled nurses with our Diploma of Nursing.

Beautiful kind female nurse taking care of little boy hospitalized in bed. Happy woman nurse tuck the covers back to the young child patient lying on hospital bed. Friendly medical worker talking with kid patient in pediatrics ward at clinic.

Benefits of being a nurse

As a meaningful and rewarding career choice, nursing not only gives you a sense of pride but also numerous benefits such as:

  • Rewarding career: Nursing is a fulfilling career path primarily due to the life-changing work nurses help with daily. Nurses get the satisfaction of actively inspiring and helping others.
  • Professional growth: Nurses are employed within many environments and can upskill into different areas and specialisations. Upskilling and advancing your career is encouraged with many opportunities available.
  • Working environment: Work within some of the best private and public medical centres in the world.
  • Strong team bonds: Form strong working relationships with your team and coworkers through fast-paced and intensive work.
  • Job stability: Nurses will always be needed, so you can be confident in knowing that there will always be work available to you.

Reaping the benefits of employment as a successful nurse requires more than education, with this career demanding various personal qualities.

Qualities of a nurse

Nursing can be a challenging and fast-paced career and requires a large number of personal and technical skills. You’ll often hear it takes a particular kind of person to work as a nurse, so you might wonder, am I that person? Below are some of the qualities required to be a good nurse:

  1. Communication: Whether with team members or patients, it’s essential to practice clear communication skills and active listening to ensure that you understand and correctly relay any necessary information.
  2. Empathy: Understanding your coworkers and patients when experiencing difficult times will vastly improve your engagement.
  3. Flexibility: Working around individual patient requirements and being able to respond to emergencies quickly.
  4. Teamwork: Working with your coworkers to ensure that each patient is cared for in the best way possible is essential to good nursing.

Becoming a great nurse also requires perseverance. If you’re able to persevere and commit to becoming the best nurse you can be, you’re guaranteed to strengthen these skills as you progress through your nursing career. The best place to start improving your soft skills is at SWTAFE, where we can support you to become a successfully qualified nurse.

Nurse and Doctor in a Clinic Measure an Hispanic Old Man Blood Pressure. An elderly patient with high blood pressure goes to hospital for medical examination. People and preventing heart disease.

Studying nursing

At SWTAFE, we offer a Free TAFE pathway into nursing with our full-time Diploma of Nursing. Taught on-campus over two years at our Warrnambool and Hamilton campuses, the Diploma of Nursing will give you the skills and knowledge required to work as a safe and competent enrolled nurse in any health care setting ranging from aged care to acute hospital settings. Upon successful completion, you will be able to apply for registration with the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency (AHPRA).

To qualify for entry into our Diploma of Nursing, you are required to apply directly to South West TAFE and must:

  • Attend an information session
  • Complete a pre-training review
  • Complete a Language, Literacy and Numeracy Test with an Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF) exit level 3
  • Meet English language requirements
  • Meet vaccination requirements
  • Complete a National Police Check
  • Acquire a volunteer Working with Children Check

Further requirements throughout your course are listed at the course link above. Upon completing our Diploma of Nursing, all you’ll need to do is register with the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency (AHPRA) as an enrolled nurse and begin seeking work. You may also consider furthering your studies and becoming a registered nurse through the Bachelor of Nursing at Deakin University.

Nurse shortage Australia

The greatest reason to pursue a career in nursing comes down to the simple fact that we desperately need them. Fresh graduates are spoiled for choice as the Australian nursing shortage continues to grow. With an ever-growing and aging population, the Australian nursing shortage continues to trouble government and health officials, prompting increased funding and continuing Free TAFE initiatives.

This demand means ample opportunities for those interested in entering the nursing profession, providing future nurses with choice, job security and the ability to relocate quickly. With countless benefits, various pathways and levels of involvement, nursing is more lucrative now than ever. If you’re willing to learn and dedicated, the sky is the limit. The only step left is to get in contact with our team at SWTAFE!