What does a nurse do?

The tasks and responsibilities of a nurse will vary based on their specialisation and work environment, but a general outline of daily duties will likely include performing and supervising patient care tasks, administering medication and treatments, using medical equipment, observing and reporting on the condition of their patients and providing information to patients and family members about medical conditions.

Tasks:

  • Provide rehabilitative, curative and preventative treatments to patients
  • Monitor, assess and report on patient condition
  • Work closely with other medical professionals
  • Offer support and information to patients and their families
  • Use a variety of medical equipment

What skills do I need to be a nurse?

Being a nurse is a demanding but rewarding career. Nurses are at the frontline of patient care, coping with the need of the sick, injured or impaired. To be a nurse you need compassion and patience, the ability to communicate with people from a wide range of cultural backgrounds, an efficient approach to completing tasks and a detail-oriented focus on your work. Nurses often work long hours on their feet and may be required to work shifts involving nights, weekends and public holiday.

Skills/attributes
  • Caring and patient demeanour
  • Can perform tasks exactly as instructed
  • Good attention to detail
  • Problem solving skills
  • Communicates well with all people

Specialisations

Nursing is a huge industry, full of different career paths that allow you to tailor your studies and training to help you find fulfillment in your professional work. Below are some popular clinical nursing careers, though many more related roles exist in nursing management, research, policy and education:

Enrolled Nurse

An enrolled nurse (EN) has completed their nursing qualification in the vocational education sector and their training is targeted towards practical competency. Graduates often have experience as an Assistant in Nursing (AIN) or Personal Carer (PC) and use the EN qualification to further their healthcare career and expand their employment options. ENs are required to work under the direct or indirect supervision of a registered nurse.

Registered Nurse

A registered nurse (RN) completes a tertiary qualification, obtaining a Bachelor of Nursing degree and registering with NMBA on completion. They have a strong theoretical grounding, are able to assess and plan patient care directives and are able to work unsupervised and pursue a greater range of roles within the healthcare industry.

Emergency Nurse

Also referred to as trauma nurse or critical care nurse, they are RNs who work in chaotic situations like emergency rooms, triage centres and trauma units. Emergency nurses must be able to take initiative in decision making, prioritise their actions and remain calm in a crisis.

Paediatric Nurse

Working with infants, children and adolescents, paediatric nurses care for patients with both chronic and acute problems. Patient assessment is a key aspect of this role, as infants and children are not able to provide information on their symptoms verbally. RNs who pursue paediatric work may choose to specialise further and focus on one aspect of paediatric care.

Aged Care Nurse

Caring for the elderly requires patience, respect and empathy. Aged care is a growing area of employment for ENs and RNs as our aging population grows. Those who excel in aged care may wish to pursue further specialisation in Gerontology.

Oncology Nurse

An oncology nurse is an RN who specialises in the care and assessment of patients undergoing treatment for cancer. They provide education to patients and their family members about treatment, monitor health outcomes and may administer chemotherapy drugs.

Perioperative Nurse

Specialising in perioperative nursing allows an RN to provide care to patients before, during and after surgery. Nurses can choose to specialise further within perioperative nursing, focussing on recovery, anaesthesia or preoperative patient assessment and education.

Remote Area Nurse

Experienced RNs are in high demand in remote and rural areas where healthcare resources are scarce. Generally, you are required to have 3 years experience in nursing practice before being considered for a posting. Postings may include work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Community Health Nurse

Community health nurses are RNs who work to provide health education and treatment to the community. This can involve working with families, schools and disadvantaged groups to promote health aims. Community health nurses must be comfortable communicating with people from a range of cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

Mental Health Nurse

Focussing on the treatment of those suffering from mental illness, dysfunction or impairment, good judgement is crucial to dealing with patients who can often be unpredictable. RNs who chose mental health as their field work in a variety of environments including locked psychiatric unit, a hospital or nursing home. They also provide treatment for those who are not mentally ill but are suffering stress or emotional difficulties.

Study pathways for nurses

There are opportunities for employment in the nursing industry at every level, from entry-level jobs requiring vocational training to specialised study for those purusing high-level roles within the healthcare system.

Getting Started

These vocational courses will allow you to join the nursing profession in an entry-level role, such as Enrolled Nurse, requiring supervision from senior staff.

Skill Building

Study for career advancement. Qualify as a Registered Nurse or pursue a career specialisation.

Professional Development

These study options will enable you to pursue high-level employment options requiring extensive qualification or specialisation in a particular nursing field.

Industry Recognition

Nurses in Australia are required to register with the Nursing and Midwifery Board after completing their professional accreditation. Find out more about the professional requirements of the nursing industry in the Resources section.

Getting a job after graduation

Put your training to good use and get the best professional head start in your nursing career. Take a look at our sample resume and cover letter and put your best foot forward when you apply for nursing jobs

Job Prospects and Salaries

With our aging population, Australia is experiencing a shortage of nursing staff. Professional opportunities are available at all levels and accredited nurses are highly sought after.