What does a registered nurse do?

Registered nurses have varied and busy roles. First and foremost, they provide care to people requiring medical assistance. They assess patient needs and coordinate care plans, alongside other medical staff. Registered nurses also answer questions for patients and their families about their health, and monitor patients’ progress over time. Registered nurses have an administrative role in the health system as well, which includes keeping accurate records, overseeing junior healthcare staff (often enrolled nurses), and scheduling follow up treatments or appointments.


  • Assess and coordinate patient needs
  • Provide healthcare to patients, in line with current best practice
  • Supervise enrolled nurses and other junior healthcare staff
  • Maintain patient records
  • Liaise with other medical professionals

What skills do I need to be a registered nurse?

Registered nurses must have excellent people skills and be able to work effectively with patients from all walks of life. They must work well under pressure and be able to juggle multiple tasks at one time. Registered nurses must also be effective communicators, both verbally and in writing. It is also important that registered nurses have a comprehensive understanding of a wide variety of healthcare issues and treatment options, and that this knowledge remains current.

  • Tact and empathy
  • The ability to multi-task
  • Verbal and written communication skills appropriate for a variety of audiences
  • A thorough understanding of healthcare issues and treatment best practice


There are numerous options for specialisation available to registered nurses. The education registered nurses receive and the practical skills that they obtain on the job open up a variety of opportunities for those who wish to hone their skills. Options include specialising in a particular healthcare field, becoming a nurse practitioner, or moving into healthcare management.

Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners begin as registered nurses, but then undertake further training to obtain an extra level of understanding of healthcare issues and their treatment. Nurse practitioners are able to prescribe medicines and order various medical tests that would otherwise require a patient to see a doctor.

Specialised Registered Nurse

Many registered nurses choose to specialise in a particular area of healthcare as their careers evolve. This can include disability, maternity, mental health, surgery, and public health services to name just a few. These specialisations enable nurses to become subject matter experts on particular health issues and their treatment.

Healthcare Manager

Registered nurses gain an extensive understanding of how the health system works in Australia, and this understanding can make them excellent healthcare managers. Running a doctor’s surgery, heading a hospital department, or running a public health education service are just some management opportunities available to registered nurses. Healthcare management tasks include budget and staff management, advertising and promotions, as well as asset and contract management.

Study pathways for registered nurses

To become a registered nurse you must complete a Bachelor of Nursing. This can either be done via direct entry, or following the completion of a Diploma of Nursing.

Getting Started

For those wishing to find out more about working as a nurse before committing to a full degree, a short course may be a good option.

Skill Building

Learning more about wider issues impacting on healthcare services in Australia can be extremely beneficial for registered nurses. One option could include a certificate level qualification about business administration for medical professionals.

Professional Development

Pursue your professional interests and build a rewarding career in nursing.

Industry Recognition

To be a registered nurse in Australia you must be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia.

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 healthcare jobs.

Job Prospects and Salaries

Nursing is projected to continue decent growth into the future. There are registered nurse positions in almost every location throughout Australia and they tend to pay slightly above average.