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Nursing in Australia is amazing! Read here from other nurses who have made the move from across the world.
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I’m from New Zealand and have been in Australia since 2017. I finished year 11 in Auckland, and from there I enrolled in a foundation program at a polytechnic (TAFE) where I did bridging studies over 18 months to prepare me for future studies, I chose the nursing pathway and the units during this course were focused on preparing me for my Bachelor of Nursing. I did units such as nursing mathematics, psychology, sociology, health science, and nursing knowledge, where in that last unit if you got a certain grade, you were pretty much guaranteed a place in the nursing degree.
Once I finished this bridging course, I was accepted into the Bachelor of Nursing at the same polytechnic. I took 4 years to complete my degree, as I failed one unit in first year, and in my third year due to an unsupportive placement I withdrew mid-placement, as the placement manager harboured a bullying culture that resulted in students being targeted, which affected my mental and physical health.
My placements were quite varied, from nursing homes, older adult rehab, short stay, theatre, drug and alcohol detox, and finally intensive care. My best placement where I felt I grew best was my final placement where we did 10 weeks or 365 hours in one area, and I chose intensive care, spending 10 weeks in one area was intense, and exhausting, but amazing for growth. Also while I was studying I was a casual Healthcare Assistant for a health board covering 2 hospitals and a respite/rehabilitation facility, this experience enhanced the academic skills I was learning during my training, and I would highly recommend doing this role while studying.
Where in Australia/clinical area are you now working?
I am currently based in Melbourne working as a Clinical Nurse Specialist within a metropolitan ICU, I joined this unit in 2021 as a Critical Care Registered Nurse and was promoted to CNS in 2022.
How did you get a job initially in Australia?
I was never planning on moving to Australia in my 2nd year of nursing. It was always planned for at least my fourth or fifth year, but as my new graduate contract wasn’t renewed I explored all avenues. I started looking for positions in September 2016, by generally googling hospitals within Australia and submitting random applications to hospitals that looked attractive. This didn’t really get me anywhere.
So I ended up approaching an agency that gave me advice on how to move and apply to Australia. They managed my application process from here and ended up getting me around 5 interviews for positions. I ended up accepting a position in a private Sydney ICU. In hindsight, if I could do this again, I would probably go public, as I found the hospital wasn’t supportive or had the structure to support a relatively fresh nurse, and I only lasted in that position for 12 months.
Since moving to Australia I have completed my Graduate Certificate from New Zealand and following this I ended up completing my Graduate Diploma in Critical Care Nursing which has further opened doors to gaining positions within critical care.
Why did you choose Australia?
Purely because it was close to home and if I didn’t like it, I could easily relocate back. I did explore though out of curiosity working in the UK, UAE, Qatar, and even Singapore or Hong Kong. The reason I explored those countries was an agency I looked at had those as options. I ultimately chose Australia due to location, money, and my sister already being located here.
Tell us about the process/preparation you need to do?
For New Zealanders the process was easy, AHPRA has a trans-Tasman mutual agreement that ensures gaining registration in Australia is straightforward. Thy generally want copies of nursing qualifications, NZ registration, and formal ID, AHPRA will conduct a NZ police check. I applied I think in August and by September I had my registration. I was told by my agency to apply early as it could take a bit of time due to new graduates applying during that time of year. Once you get your registration, hospitals will conduct their own checks and generally each hospital has their own criteria.
In terms of visas, Kiwi citizens can land in Australia, swipe your passport and there’s your visa. This visa entitles you to work, pay tax, and have reciprocal healthcare. Things that you will need to apply for is a tax number through the tax office (I did mine from NZ and wasn’t too difficult), medicare to gain official healthcare rights, and joining an Australian bank. Mostly you will need ID documents to do these applications. Transferring your NZ drivers licence is also pretty straightforward.
What advice do you have for other NZ nurses considering Australia?
If using an agency really do your research and find the best one for you. Australia pays well, but also the same issues as other countries. We still have issues with staffing shortages, being requested to do doubles / overtime, and in some ways culture issues.
If moving in your second year of nursing, go public. There will be better support and structures for you. Australia can be a great country to work, and its very multicultural. I’m still adapting to the climate, even after 7 years here. I have so far worked in Sydney, regional WA, Canberra, and now Melbourne.
Do you have any advice on agencies/companies to help with the move?
Really do your research, don’t go with the first agency that offers the world to you. Be cautious and really think about it.
What do you wish you knew before you came to Australia in regard to nursing?
I was lucky that I had a sister living here already and I visited her quite frequently, alongside coming over to Australia for holidays. So I had some understanding of what Australia had to offer.