what is a registered nurse?

As a registered nurse, you perform a range of responsibilities to care for patients in medical settings. You work in hospitals, private clinics, aged care homes and community settings like schools and rural communities. Within a hospital, you work in various departments providing care to patients in intensive care, theatre or maternity. A registered nurse can also be part of the Royal Flying Doctor Service Australia.

Nurses in Australia are responsible for basic patient care duties like giving medications or administering injections. They also operate medical equipment to provide diagnostic assistance to doctors. As a registered nurse, you are the link between a doctor and the patient, providing support in multiple health situations. You work alongside other nurses and healthcare professionals to ensure positive patient outcomes.

Educating patients is a crucial aspect of the profession. It can positively affect a patient's life and help them to improve. As a registered nurse, you share knowledge about health and wellbeing to provide lifestyle improvements.

The main benefit of nursing is the ability to work in different areas or choose a speciality to pursue. For instance, you can work with elderly patients and people with disabilities or specialise in adult, child or newborn care. You can also work outdoors as part of a cruise ship medical team or flying medical services.

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average salary of a registered nurse

Registered nurses earn an average salary of $95,000 annually in Australia. Nurses with minimal experience and educational qualifications start with a salary of $80,000 per year. With experience, additional qualifications and specialisation, your earnings can increase to $110,000 annually. Aside from the base salary, you can increase your remuneration by taking extra shifts or working overtime. You may work part-time in various facilities since most nursing roles are on shifts. Nurses also receive benefits like annual leave days, medical and life insurance and various allowances.

what factors affect the salary of a registered nurse?

As a registered nurse, your experience and qualifications dictate your remuneration package. Improving your skills raises your salary prospects. Your area of specialisation can also enhance your wages. For instance, if you work in intensive care, your earnings are higher compared with other nurses. The location also impacts your remuneration since general nurses' salaries are determined by region. Generally, if you work in metro areas and large cities, your salary is higher due to greater demand and the higher cost of living.

Want to know what you will earn as a registered nurse? Check out what you are worth with our salary checker.

registered nurse salary

types of registered nurses

The types of registered nurses in Australia depend on their specialisation and the level of training or qualifications they possess. Some types of nurses include:

  • enrolled nurse: an enrolled nurse usually has a two-year diploma in nursing and meets the designated standards of practice. They work under registered nurses and provide basic patient care like reading treatment plans and recording patients' temperature and blood pressure readings.
  • clinical nurses: as a clinical nurse, you have the qualifications of a registered nurse and additional training in a specialised area of care. A clinical nurse can train in specific diseases like diabetes or specialise in paediatrics care.
  • nurse practitioner: a nursing practitioner has a master's in nursing and over 5,000 hours working as an advanced clinical nurse. They also have endorsement from the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA).
medical staff in surgery
medical staff in surgery

working as a registered nurse

A general nurse is a care worker who helps patients by administering recommended treatments. The job is hands-on, and you will spend most of the day working on your feet. Here are the job expectations in the role, including daily tasks:


registered nurse education and skills

Some of the educational qualifications for a registered nurse include:

  • diploma and degree courses: to become a registered nurse, it is mandatory to have a nursing qualification from a registered vocational provider. You can pursue a two-year diploma in nursing and start your career as an enrolled nurse or begin with a bachelor's degree in nursing to become a registered nurse. The degree course takes three years and involves work placement in a health facility.
  • work experience: you need experience in nursing or care work. If you just finished college, you can look for internships and entry-level positions like a nursing assistant to help you gain experience in the field.

registered nurse skills and competencies

A registered nurse needs the following qualities:

  • written and verbal communication: as a registered nurse, you communicate with other medical professionals and work closely with the patients' families. Communication skills help you give clear information to various professionals and patients. You may need to explain medical terms to patients in simple terms they can understand. You also need written communication skills to write reports.
  • critical thinking: as a registered nurse, you need critical thinking skills to make informed patient assessments. Critical thinking also helps you advise patients experiencing difficulties and develop practical solutions to various issues.
  • compassion: being compassionate is a valuable quality for registered nurses. You need to be empathetic with patients regardless of their condition. Compassion helps you provide emotional support to the patients and their family members.
  • teamwork: as a registered nurse, you always work in a team and must cooperate with other medical professionals to deliver the best care. Teamwork skills help to collaborate and work alongside others.

FAQs about working as a registered nurse

Here are the most asked questions about working as a registered nurse:

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