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Careers of the Future: Nursing

This article is sponsored by Western Sydney University

Globalisation, automation and rapidly changing needs mean the future of employment will probably look very different, and many current careers won’t exist in the next 10 to 20 years. It’s critical that students ask the important question: ‘Will my chosen study path lead to strong job opportunities after graduation and beyond?’

With a rapidly expanding population, health services in Australia and around the world are going to be even more important in the future. No matter where you launch your healthcare career, nurses, doctors and health workers will become increasingly critical. 

Read on to find out more about the many opportunities a career in nursing can provide, with insights from Gladis Kabil, Lecturer at the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Western Sydney University

The types of nurses in Australia 

Enrolled nurses (ENs) 

Enrolled nurses are entry-level nursing staff. As an EN, you will assist senior staff, record patient information and provide basic treatments. 

  • Required study: a two-year diploma in nursing through a vocational education provider
  • Average annual salary: $65,000-$70,000

Registered nurses (RNs)

Registered nurses have more responsibilities than enrolled nurses. Your duties may include assessing patients, developing and delivering nursing plans and administering medicine. 

  • Required study: a three-year bachelor’s degree in nursing through a university
  • Average annual salary: $80,000-$85,000

Nurse practitioners

Nurse practitioners are registered nurses who are endorsed by Australia’s Nursing and Midwifery Board (NMBA). To become a nurse practitioner, you must complete 5,000 hours of experience over six years and comply with the NMBA’s professional standards

Once qualified, you’ll be able to prescribe some medicines and work in more advanced clinical environments. 

  • Required study: a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree
  • Average annual salary: $135,000-$145,000

Nurse educators and researchers

Also known as clinical nurse educators, nurse educators and researchers are responsible for the initial and ongoing professional training and development of other nurses.

  • Required study: a master’s degree in nursing, as well as practical experience
  • Average annual salary: $99,500-$125,000

Nurse unit managers (NUMs)

A nurse unit manager is responsible for managing a small team of nurses in hospitals, aged care or community healthcare facilities. 

  • Required study: a bachelor’s degree in nursing plus practical experience
  • Average annual salary: $120,000-$130,000

A booming industry 

Registered nurses are a fundamental part of the health system and belong to the biggest employment sector in Australia. As of 2023, 2.1 million people hold jobs in the health care and social assistance industry, and this number is expected to surpass 2.2 million by 2026. 

Gladis explains that there is a wide range of opportunities for students graduating with a nursing degree. 

“I can see that the scope of practice of nurses has tremendously increased over the years,” she says. “You can be a clinical nurse consultant, a nurse practitioner, a nurse educator or a nurse unit manager, so there are pathways of education and of management.” 

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A future-focused career 

According to Gladis, the future of nursing has ample room for technological advancement. As such, nurses will likely carry more responsibility in both clinical and academic settings. 

“When I began nursing, I believed that the role of the nurse was at the bedside of the patient. But the picture is completely different now, which is a good thing for a young person now aspiring to become a nurse.”

Gladis says this increase in opportunity has been largely influenced by COVID-19. 

“We have realised there are lots of things that nurses can do on their own, and this is largely due to the pandemic. One of the best examples would be nurses performing practices that used to be largely medical-led procedures.”

“There’s plenty of research now that has proved that this nurse-led model is working. And I firmly believe this trend will continue,” she adds. 

Why nursing? 

Are you caring, curious and hard-working? Do you have a real passion for providing service to the people in your community? Are you passionate about studying science, health and the human body?

If so, nursing might be for you. Nurses are analytical problem-solvers with great organisational, social and people skills, and can work well in a team.

Gladis adds that nursing is a fantastic field for those who enjoy engaging directly with the public.

“[A] key skill [in the nursing sector] I would personally think is the interpersonal skills, and how they communicate with each other. If people love to talk to other people, then nursing is for them,” she says.

Plus, because many of the skills you learn as a nurse – such as resilience, adaptability and critical thinking – are highly transferable, a degree in nursing could be the first step in launching a global healthcare career.

Additionally, the Australian Government is adjusting how it prioritises skilled visa applications. These changes have been implemented to address labour shortages in healthcare and education, meaning nurses could see their applications processed in as little as one day. 

Education pathways in Australia 

To start your nursing career, you’ll need to complete a qualification. Relevant study pathways include:

  • A Diploma of Nursing
  • A Bachelor of Nursing
  • A Master of Science (Nursing)
  • A PhD in Nursing

According to Gladis, working towards a Bachelor of Nursing or a Master of Nursing from Western Sydney University is an excellent opportunity to learn in a student-focused environment. She adds that the University is a particularly great choice for international students. 

“Something I have found unique about Western Sydney University is it’s located in a demographic that’s highly multicultural, and therefore the programs are also very supportive of students that come from diverse backgrounds.”

Gladis shares that students can access lots of extra assistance if they need it, such as language support for those from non-English speaking backgrounds.

“From minor details to major details, there’s lots of student focus,” she says.

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Ranked in the top 2 per cent of universities worldwide, Western Sydney University is a top choice for international students hoping to study nursing in Australia. From a wide variety of courses to unparalleled student support, discover everything that Western Sydney University’s nursing and midwifery department has to offer