Registered nursing

What is a registered nurse?

A registered nurse (RN) is a skilled health care professional who provides highly skilled and evidenced based care to people (individuals, families, groups and communities). Registered nurses work in multidisciplinary settings in the public or private health sectors.

Places registered nurses work include public hospitals, private hospitals, emergency care, aged care, general practice clinics, community health services, schools or rural and remote communities.

The main responsibilities of an RN range from direct patient care to coordination of, or leading care delivery, health promotion, research, management and education.

Registered nursing gives you the opportunity to work in a variety of dynamic areas.

Why become a registered nurse?

As a registered nurse you will have the opportunity to treat, heal, educate and help patients in many ways, every day.

Registered nurses work in an existing environment that is constantly changing, where no 2 days are ever the same. The care delivered by an RN is impactful and makes a significant difference to patients’ lives.

Registered nurses have plenty of job possibilities and career opportunities as there will always be a need for competent healthcare professionals.

What do I study and how long will it take?

To become a registered nurse, you must complete a Bachelor of nursing course at a university approved by the Nursing and Midwifery Board AHPRA (NMBA) that leads to registration as a registered nurse. The approved programs of study to become a registered nurse can be found on the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) website. More information about these programs can be found on the APHRA website.

The best subjects to study in year 12 are human biology or any other science subject, maths, and WACE level English. These subjects provide you with a sound knowledge base for subsequent nursing studies. However, the subjects required can vary according to each university, so it is advisable to research each campus’ prerequisite requirements.

The Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) to enter a registered nursing course varies from university-to-university and year-to-year. It is recommended that you contact each university to find out the cut-off score for each of their courses (a cut-off score is the minimum score needed to enter a particular university). Some individual course cut-offs may be higher, due to demand.

It takes a minimum of three years full-time study to become a registered nurse.  Length of study and curriculum offered might vary from one university to another.

What does it cost?

Course costs vary considerably, and it is advisable to check with the individual course provider. A range of financial assistance options are available, including:

The Chief Nursing and Midwifery (CNM) Office offers scholarships twice a year to those studying to become a registered nurse. Information about initial registration scholarships can be found here.  Information about eligibility criteria can be found here.

How much do enrolled nurses earn?

Starting salary for a registered nurse will vary between public and private sectors. Current pay rates for the Western Australian Health System can be found under the Industrial Agreement 2020.

There are additional penalty rates for evening and night shift, weekend and public holiday work hours, meaning many registered nurses earn considerably above their base rate.

Registered nurses who undertake further studies can also increase their base rate through qualifications allowances.

CNM Office advocate for registered nurses to increase their rates through EBA negotiations.

What are the employment prospects?

Registered nursing is an in-demand profession. The demand for registered nurses is predicted to keep growing over the coming years.

Advancing your career

WA Health understands and encourages the need for nurses and midwives to maintain their skills, knowledge and competencies. We encourage and support professional development among our registered nurses.

Through our network of health professionals and expert services, we are able to provide a variety of opportunities for staff and we encourage our nurses and midwives to meet with their managers to discuss opportunities for further skills development.

Continuing professional development is critical to maintaining the high standards expected from the nursing and midwifery professions. It is also essential that clinical skills are maintained through participation in ongoing nursing and/or midwifery education and professional development activities.

Professional development programs are continually run in the public health system and all registered nurses are provided clinical support throughout their career.

Paid study days and professional development days are available to help facilitate continued learning.

In addition, postgraduate opportunities exist at each university for registered nurses and some Scholarships and Financial Assistance are available through Chief Nursing and Midwifery Office.

Specialisation through continued professional development and study

What most nurses find appealing about their career is the range of specialty fields available to work in. Chances are there is one that suits you, your skills and interests.

The type of specialty you choose may depend on your lifestyle, strengths and area of interest. The great thing about so much choice is that you can change your area of work or specialty at any time providing vacancies are available.  All you need to do is apply to work in a different area, although some specialties may require you to do some more study. This can range from a short up-skill course to a formal postgraduate qualification at university.

Becoming a nurse practitioner

Nurse practitioners are advanced practice nurses who are legislatively authorised to undertake diagnostic assessment, treat, prescribe and refer patients within their approved scope of practice.

Please click here to find more information about nurse practitioners in WA.

Finding a job

Browse jobs on the WA Health Job Search website.

Do not hesitate to register for opportunities.

Produced by

Chief Nursing and Midwifery Office