what is a registered nurse?

As a registered nurse (RN), you work with a healthcare team to care for patients with different health conditions. Your job is to assess a patient's condition by going over their medical history. You also record the patient's symptoms, take vital signs readings, and get samples to perform tests during the evaluation stage. In collaboration with doctors, you develop a treatment plan for the health conditions. You administer the treatment plans and therapies, such as medication, and monitor the patient's response to the care plans.

Aside from treating patients, registered nurses promote overall patient health by providing health education to families and patients. As a nurse, you answer questions about different health topics and attend community health promotion activities to improve awareness of various health issues.

While most registered nurses work in hospitals, some work in private clinics and other community healthcare facilities. In healthcare facilities, you work in different departments, like the intensive care, theatre or maternity ward. You can also work for flying medical services or in aged care homes and schools. Registered nurses also work in corporate or industry settings, including manufacturing and mining companies, to treat employees and deal with work-related injuries. When discharging your duties, ensure you adhere to the standards for practice for nurses in Australia.

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average registered nurse salary

The average remuneration package of a registered nurse in Australia is $88,000 per year. Your earnings in the role fluctuate based on your experience and the scope of your duties. In an entry-level position, you work under supervision and are likely to take home a lower remuneration package due to your minimal experience. Registered nurses start with a salary of $85,000 per year, but the earnings increase with experience, and you can take home over $90,000 per year.

what factors affect the salary of a registered nurse?

As a registered nurse, your earnings fluctuate based on experience and expertise. For instance, when you join the profession, you have minimal experience and cannot handle complex medical conditions. However, as you gain years of experience, your expertise increases gradually, and you can join specialised roles. You are likely to earn more when you specialise in neurological care or neonatology.

The specific healthcare facility you work for also determines your remuneration package. As a registered nurse, you may work in public or private hospitals, but the pay scales vary due to the difference in resources. Large healthcare facilities have vast resources and, as a result, can afford to pay higher salaries than small hospitals.

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


types of registered nurses

Registered nurses specialise in various areas. For instance, if you are interested in issues related to the heart, you can become a cardiac nurse. In this role, you assist patients with heart-related problems and provide them with care during recovery. Cardiac nurses also work with surgeons, carrying out surgical procedures like angioplasty, bypass or pacemaker surgery.

Some registered nurses become certified anaesthetists, assisting surgeons with anaesthesia during surgeries. You help patients manage pain during and after surgeries. As a critical care nurse, you are trained for emergency situations and working in intensive care units (ICU). You tend to serious wounds and monitor life support systems.

smiling woman holding a cup
smiling woman holding a cup

working as a registered nurse

If you are interested in working as a registered nurse, read on to discover the specific duties, responsibilities and work environments of nurses.


education and skills

You cannot work as a nurse in Australia without formal educational qualifications. To become a registered nurse, pursue a bachelor's degree in nursing or a bachelor of nursing science. A degree course usually takes three years of full-time study and provides you with a blend of theory and clinical nursing experience. If you have a bachelor's degree in a different healthcare-related field, get a master's degree in nursing, which takes an additional two years.

After completing your bachelor’s degree course, register with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) or the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency. You should renew your registration annually. Aside from educational qualifications, it's important to build your work experience through internships and entry-level nursing roles.

registered nurse skills and competencies

Some of the qualities you need to excel as a nurse include:

  • communication skills: as a registered nurse, you communicate with members of the medical team, patients and their families. You rely on your communication skills to explain complex medical concepts to patients and relay the symptoms to doctors and other medical practitioners. Having good listening skills is also a useful skill in order to understand patients’ conditions and medical histories.
  • critical thinking: as a registered nurse, you rely on critical thinking skills to come up with treatment plans for patients. Based on the initial evaluation, you are expected to make educated assessments and decisions about your patients. Critical thinking helps you develop practical solutions and collaborate with the medical team on patient care.
  • teamwork: in most healthcare facilities, nurses work in teams to provide the best care for patients. You need teamwork skills to collaborate with other nurses and doctors to administer treatment plans.
  • physical fitness: as a registered nurse, you spend hours on your feet and sometimes move patients in hospital beds. You should be physically fit to handle long hours on your feet and assist patients.
  • compassion: as a registered nurse, you work closely with patients, and it is important to empathise with their situation. Being compassionate helps you provide emotional support to patients and their families.

FAQs about working as a registered nurse

Here, you will find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the profession of a registered nurse.

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