(Click here to read Nursing in Australia: A Great Work/Life Balance, Part 1.)
To practice as a Registered Nurse or midwife in Australia, you must first register with a state or territory Nursing and Midwifery Board. It can be relatively easy, providing you pass the Nursing and Midwifery Board’s criteria; this can be found on their individual websites (see below). Currently Nursing in Australia is not nationalized (i.e. there is not one country-wide system) so each state and territory has its own Board. The Nursing and Midwifery Board links are:
Nurses and Midwives Board New South Wales
Other useful links are:
The criteria for registration can be different depending upon which state or territory of Australia you choose. For example (for now), the criteria in the Northern Territory looks different to the criteria in New South Wales. There are six states and two territories. Some Nursing Boards may require you to undertake an assessment of competence, although this is not usually the case for nurses trained in the USA. A new national registration and accreditation scheme is coming into effect mid-2010. This will nationalize the registration process and make it easier for nurses to move between jobs in the different states and territories, without having to re-register (which you currently have to do). It is really important that you check your eligibility for registration before applying for your visa. It is also worth noting that all overseas nurses (regardless of their first language) now have to undergo an International English Language Test to obtain their nursing registration in Australia!
The most popular visa nurses go for is the twelve month working holiday visa (although this is only for those aged between 18 and 30). On this visa you can have an extended holiday, supplemented by short-term employment. If you happen to be on the wrong side of thirty when you decide to go and work in Australia, then you may want to look at the four year Business (Long Stay) Visa Sponsorship. This is a program where Australian employers sponsor approved skilled workers (i.e. nurses) to work in Australia on a temporary visa. There are other types of visas - for example, some nurses prefer to opt for permanent residency, securing their stay in Australia permanently. Note though that the application process for the more permanent/longer visa does, as you’d expect, take longer. To see which visa you may be eligible for, check the Australian immigration website at http://www.immi.gov.au/
. Note that there is a section specifically for nurses and doctors.
Finally, Registered Nurses must be in good health to work in the Australian Health Service and will need to undergo a medical examination, chest x-ray and blood test before being able to work in Australia. To get more information on this, visit the immigration website (above).
I hope you have found this article helpful. To read and find out more about nursing in Australia, an eBook entitled Nursing in Australia: A Guide to Working and Living as a Nurse Down Under is available. For more information (including a free sample download) please visit http://www.nursingaustralia.info/
About the Author: Emma Bates, RN, BSC has held a variety of senior nursing positions both in the UK and in Australia. Emma is a nurse educator, writer, and has co-produced an orientation CD for foreign nurses migrating to Australia.