Registered Nurse

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Job Summary

Nurses are an essential part of the health care system and work to promote and maintain the health of individuals and communities. The specific duties performed depend on whether nurses are working in hospitals or nursing homes, medical practices or the community. In hospital setting nurses work within a multidisciplinary team and are the primary point of contact for patients. Typical work duties can vary depending upon specialty but may include:

  • Providing or organising nursing care for patients including administering treatment or medication, monitoring and adjusting medical equipment, completing periodic observations and maintaining patient records
  • Providing first aid, performing physical examinations and providing advice and information about health issues
  • Providing emotional support for patients and their families
  • Preparing patients for and assisting with medical procedures
  • Supervising and contributing to the clinical training of nursing students



Nurses may elect to specialise in areas such as those outlined below.

Clinical Nurse Specialist

A clinical nurse specialist has either demonstrated competency in advanced practice or has developed competency in an area of specialisation.

Community Health Nurse

A community health nurse provided nursing care or health counselling for individuals, families and community groups, and may be involved in health promotion within the community.

Mental Health Nurse

A mental health nurse provides nursing care to patients with psychological and emotional problems who are undergoing treatment and support in hospitals, clinics, community settings or private homes.

Nurse Educator

A nurse educator assists with the design, implementation and assessment of education programmes.

Nurse Practitioner

A nurse practitioner has highly developed skills and knowledge in a specialty field and can prescribe medications and tests.

Nurse Researcher

A nurse researcher conducts research into nursing and health issues.

Practice Nurse

A practice nurse is employed by general practitioners to provide general treatments, work in health promotion or area such as chronic disease management.


Personal Qualities

Nurses need to have good communication skills and be patient, tolerant and tactful in their dealing with patients and their families. They must be quick-thinking and display initiative in responding to crisis situations. Due to the varied nature of the work Nurses also need to be able to work independently and as part of a team. Since nursing can be physically and emotionally demanding, Nurses need to be physical fit and emotionally resilient.

Entrance Requirements

To become a Registered Nurse, an undergraduate degree in Nursing is required, as well as registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia. After registration Nurses can undertake postgraduate study in various clinical specialties - medical-surgical, mental health, paediatric, emergency, critical care, palliative care, occupational health and community nursing - or in management and education.

Principal Employment Sectors and Industry

Nurses can work in a wide range of settings including hospitals, doctors' surgeries, community health centres, home healthcare services, nursing care facilities, correctional facilities, school and university health centres and with the military.