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Your guide to becoming a nurse in Australia 

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Two student nurses at Curtin working on a model patient

Are you passionate about helping others and making a difference? A career in nursing could be the answer. Beyond the scrubs and stethoscopes lies a profession rooted in care, compassion, and expertise. Whether you see yourself in a bustling hospital, working in the community or using telehealth, a career in nursing could take you anywhere.   

What does a nurse do? 

Nurses are highly educated health professionals who provide comprehensive nursing care, support and education to patients and their families. On a day-to-day basis, you will find yourself assessing patients, administering medication, and working closely with other healthcare professionals to create and deliver personalised care. As a nurse, you will play a key role in advocating for your patients, empowering them with vital knowledge, and guiding them through their health concerns. 

Six benefits of a career in nursing 

1. Plentiful job opportunities 📈

Join Australia’s fastest-growing industry! Jobs in healthcare and social assistance have more than doubled in the last 20 years and are predicted to double again in the next 10 years.1 Registered nurses make up the largest proportion of professionals in the healthcare industry with more than 303,000 registered nurses employed nationwide and numbers expected to grow by 13.9% to 331,200 by 2026.2  

2. Choose your dream career path 

From critical care to cosmetics, there is a huge range of career paths open to nurses. You could find yourself working in a hospital, school or in the community. If you’re wondering what you can do with a Bachelor of Nursing degree, consider some of these fields: 

  • Aged care 🧓 
  • Cardiac ❤️ 
  • Community health 🏘️ 
  • Diabetes 🩸 
  • Education 📚 
  • Emergency 🚑 
  • Infection control 🦠 
  • Intensive care 🏥 
  • Mental health 🧠 
  • Neuroscience 🧬 
  • Occupational health 👷 
  • Oncology 🎗️ 
  • Paediatrics 🧸 
  • Palliative care 🌸 
  • Rehabilitation ♿ 
  • Remote / rural 🐪 
  • Telehealth 📞 

3. Enjoy a flexible schedule 📅

Whether it’s working hours that suit your needs through a nursing agency, or becoming a travel nurse in rural Australia, you can choose nursing roles that offer greater freedom, flexibility and work-life balance.  

4. Earn a competitive salary 💰

As a registered nurse, you can expect to earn on average $1937 a week, 21% higher than the national median salary, with 1 in 4 RNs earning more than $2367 per week.3 

5. Make a difference 💖

Nurses are critical to the healthcare system, providing safe, quality care to people, families and communities.  Whether it’s supporting the elderly, caring for those with a terminal diagnosis or distracting a child when administering a vaccination, the positive difference that nurses make is unparalleled. 

“Never lose sight of the privileged position that is yours, to be a nurse and a carer, and to remember that your most important responsibility as you move through your studies, and graduate and go into the system, is clinical excellence and compassionate care.” – Joy Brann, Curtin Founding Nurse Academic

6. Pack your suitcase ✈️

Looking for a new adventure? A career in nursing can open doors to exciting travel opportunities. You could find yourself working as a nurse in rural Australia or experiencing life abroad. You could contribute to global health initiatives, participate in humanitarian missions or volunteer in under-served communities. You’ll get the chance to expand your clinical skills, broaden your network and make memories to last a lifetime.  

“If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.” – Jill Downey, Head of Curtin Nursing School, 2002–2007

Nursing FAQs  

If you have questions about studying to be a nurse, wondering “can I be a nurse with a bachelor’s degree?” (short answer: yes), or even how to get a Bachelor of Nursing, we have answers! 

How do I become a nurse in Australia? 

In Australia, there are three types of nurses: enrolled nurses (ENs), registered nurses (RNs) and nurse practitioners.4 You can qualify as an enrolled nurse by completing a Diploma of Nursing. Enrolled nurses work under the supervision of registered nurses who have a broader range of responsibilities. Most nurses working in Australia are RNs. To become an RN, you’ll need to complete an approved bachelor of nursing or master of nursing degree. 

I’m an enrolled nurse and want to become a registered nurse 

If you’re an enrolled nurse who has completed a Diploma in Nursing, you can apply for Curtin’s “Enrolled Nurse to Registered Nurse Stream” as part of our Bachelor of Science (Nursing). This stream has limited places so we recommend applying early to secure a spot. Located regionally? You can now study this stream at our Curtin Kalgoorlie campus or the Great Southern Universities Centre in Albany. Coursework is delivered through a mix of online and face-to-face units. 

I’m a registered nurse overseas and want to qualify as a nurse in Australia 

If you’re an internationally qualified nurse without current registration to work as a nurse in Australia, you can apply for our “Registered Nurse Conversion Australian Registration Stream” as part of our Bachelor of Science (Nursing). After successful completion of the program, you can seek registration to work as a nurse in Australia. 

I want a bachelor qualification in nursing but I don’t want AHPRA* registration 

If you’re already a registered nurse in Australia but you’re looking to advance your qualification from diploma level to a bachelor degree, our “Registered Nurse Conversion – Non-Registration Nurse” stream is ideal. You can apply as part of our Bachelor of Science (Nursing) course. 

*Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency 

Can I study a Bachelor of Nursing online? 

Our Bachelor of Nursing course is a hands-on, practice-based course that takes place on campus, in the community and in clinical settings. 

How long does a Bachelor of Nursing take? 

At Curtin, our Bachelor of Nursing course takes three-and-a-half years to complete. You’ll be able to apply for registration with the Australian and Midwifery Nursing Board upon graduation. 

Is a Bachelor of Nursing hard? 

Our Bachelor of Nursing is a comprehensive course that explores biological, psychosocial and nursing sciences; advanced clinical skill development; and simulated practice and fieldwork. It’s a demanding course but very rewarding. If you’re struggling with your studies, Curtin has a wide range of support services to assist. 

I’m a graduate who wants to change careers to nursing 

If you’re a graduate looking to switch careers to nursing, consider our two-year Master of Nursing Practice. Successful completion of this two-year course means you can apply for registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia.  

What can I expect from Curtin’s nursing courses? 

The Curtin School of Nursing is the oldest established school of nursing in the Australian university sector. We have a long and proud history of pioneering policy, pushing boundaries across disciplines and producing extraordinary graduates who have become esteemed healthcare professionals around the world. 

“When I was studying at Curtin, it was a really exciting time. It was the only university that was offering a three-and-a-half year comprehensive nursing course which was a real buzz. We knew that when we went out onto placement in our mint-green uniforms that we were a team, a cohort that were doing not only the art of nursing, but also the science as well. I’ve been really fortunate in my career and my studies have assisted in that. I’ve been in clinical nurse roles, educator roles in hospitals, I’ve sat in director roles within the hospital system. But I’ve also been really fortunate to work at the Department of Health and drive policy and strategic directions in regards to nursing and the broader workforce.”

Dr Sheralee Tamaliunas, Assistant Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer, Director Strategic Workforce and Development, Clinical Excellence Division, WA Department of Health

Curtin nursing students working on a patient.

Here are three amazing advantages of studying nursing at Curtin: 

1. Career-ready skills 👩‍⚕️ 

Our practice based-on nursing courses are ranked in the top 100 in the world5 and focus on teaching you the key knowledge and skills for a changing healthcare system. You’ll get the chance to work closely with students in midwifery, paramedicine and oral health therapy as part of an interprofessional healthcare team. 

2. Real-world learning 🩺 

You’ll learn in innovative facilities that replicate real healthcare settings, building your skills in a safe and supported environment, before completing supervised practice in the community. 

Discover our simulated hospital ward: 

3. International experiences ✈️ 

Keen to take your skills overseas? We offer an exciting range of international study opportunities, including our award-winning Go Global Program

Discover the moment that inspired Curtin graduate Jason to pursue a career in nursing: 

How to advance your nursing career  

If you want to expand your skillset and you’re wondering “what can I study after a bachelor of nursing?”, Curtin offers some exciting options. 

If you’re passionate about supporting those with diabetes, our Graduate Certificate in Diabetes will further your knowledge of this chronic disease. If you’re looking to advance your career with an in-depth health specialisation, consider Curtin’s Master of Advanced Practice. This 12-month course is the first of its kind in Western Australia and offers expert knowledge across a range of in-demand fields. 

You can specialise in: 

Acting clinical nurse and Curtin nursing graduate Khai Kamarudin at Fiona Stanley Hospital.

Curtin graduate Khai Kamarudin says his promotion to Acting Clinical Nurse at Fiona Stanley Hospital has enabled him to further his studies and pushed him “beyond his wildest expectations”. His long-term goal is to become a nurse practitioner who specialises in spinal rehabilitation. 

“For me, I always wanted a role where I could develop a rapport with my patients, as well as provide them with a high level of care and service. In the spinal ward, patients are usually there for an extended period of time, so it’s wonderful seeing their progress and knowing I had some part to play in that. 

“There are endless opportunities within the [nursing] profession. Your nursing degree can take you anywhere. You can start as an ED nurse, be promoted to a clinical nurse, and one day an educator.” 

Learn more about Khai’s journey to becoming a nurse. 

Ready to scrub up? 

If you’re ready to start your career in nursing, learn more about our Bachelor of Science (Nursing) and Master of Nursing Practice courses. If you want to talk through your options with one of our friendly career advisors, we’re here to help! You can call us during business hours on 1300 222 888 or ask us your question online and we’ll get back to you soon.  

  4. Nurse practitioners are highly experienced RNs who have been endorsed by the Nursing and Midwifery Board and have completed postgraduate study at a master’s degree level.
  5. QS World University Ranking by Subject 2024
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