Alternative education pathways

I already have a tertiary qualification in another field, how do I become a registered nurse?

If you want to study registered nursing and have already completed another tertiary qualification, you may be eligible to complete a Graduate Pathway or Entry-to-Practice course.

On completion of either the Curtin University (external site) Master of Science (Nursing) Graduate Pathway, graduates are able to register with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia as a registered nurse. The course is 2 years in duration when undertaken full-time.

Recognition of prior learning and mature age entry

There are several ways for mature age students to enter nursing and midwifery. Entry into nursing and midwifery courses varies depending upon your work experience and education.

You should contact the individual education providers to find out if you are eligible for any credits towards course entrance based on:

  • previous qualifications you have obtained or partially completed
  • any work experience you have.

This is sometimes called recognition of prior learning (RPL).

Before applying for entry into any nursing or midwifery course within Western Australia, you may need to complete either a:

University and State Training Providers Preparation Course, a bridging course through one of the education providers

Special Tertiary Admissions Test (STAT).

Visit the Tertiary Institutions Service Centre (external site) for more information.

For further information, contact the individual education providers.

What if I don’t meet the necessary Year 12 requirements?

If you have not satisfied the necessary secondary education requirements, you may be eligible to undertake a Certificate III in Health Service Assistance and use this as a pathway into nursing or midwifery. For more information see the information below about becoming an assistant in nursing.

There are also other bridging programs offered by the various education providers that will prepare you for entry to the course you want, so make contact with them to find out more.

A Certificate IV in Preparation for Entry into Enrolled Nursing will prepare you for entry to a Diploma of Enrolled Nursing course.

A Certificate IV in Health Science Foundations will prepare you for entry into a Bachelor of Nursing or Midwifery at university or a Diploma of Enrolled Nursing.

Assistants in nursing

An assistant in nursing (AIN) works as a member of the nursing team and assists nurses to give general patient care. This can include:

  • helping patients with hygiene and meals
  • helping patients to move in and out of bed and around the ward
  • assisting nurses to monitor a patient’s condition by measuring blood pressure, temperature and respiration rates.

To work as an AIN you need to complete a Certificate III in Health Services Assistance which is offered through Jobs and Skills WA (external site), Marr Mooditj (external site) and several private organisations.

Working as an AIN can be a rewarding career in itself but the qualification can also be a pathway into a career in nursing or midwifery, as you can continue to work as an AIN while you study to become a nurse or midwife.

Assistants in Nursing working for WA Health

To be employed within WA Health as an Acute Care Assistant in Nursing (AIN), the qualification Certificate III in Health Services Assistance-Acute Care is required. WA Health requires AINs to hold this qualification, as it provides preparation to effectively look after patient safely and holistically while working in the hospital environment.

Acute care is provided in hospitals that deliver shorter term treatment for severe illness, following surgery, or because of injury. As an Acute Care AIN, you always work under the direction of a registered nurse.

Some of the duties that an Acute Care AIN can do may include:

  • helping staff keep patients safe by keeping a watchful eye on those who might be restless or confused
  • assisting patients to get in and out of bed/chairs and to mobilise within the ward environment
  • assisting patients with their meal set up and feeding
  • assisting with hygiene needs such as with showering, shaving and mouth care

Depending on your background and experience, there are several ways the Certificate III in Health Services Assistance-Acute Care qualification can be acheived:

  • No previous experience. If you don’t have previous experience in patient support work, you will be required to complete the full course.
  • Some patient support working experience. If you have already worked in some form of patient support, you may be able to shorten the coursework requirement, by negotiating and obtaining Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) with the State Training Provider.
  • Currently enrolled, completing or have completed a Bachelor of Science (Nursing). You may be able to negotiate and obtain RPL using your academic transcript to obtain the Acute Care AIN qualification with the State Training Provider.

You should contact the state training providers to obtain more information on how you can enrol into/or seek RPL of the Acute Care AIN qualification.

If you would like to enquire to find out how to undertake the full course, enquire about registered nursing student RPL or RPL for previous health support work, then please contact:

It is worth noting that an Acute Care AIN qualification can be used to fast-track your way into an amazing career in nursing or midwifery. If you decide you are ready to go further and study to become a nurse or midwife, this qualification will also allow you to get paid to work as an Assistant in Nursing while you study.

Last reviewed: 13-04-2021
Produced by

Chief Nursing and Midwifery Office