Is nursing a good career in Australia?
Let’s explore what makes nursing a good career choice in Australia, with expert insights from UQ Lecturer and Researcher Dr Amanda Cottle-Quinn.
Since graduating with a Bachelor of Nursing in 2009, Amanda has spent the last 14 years working as a registered nurse, mostly in the Post Anaesthetic Care Unit. More recently, she has been lecturing in higher academia.
Amanda has a Master of Health Practice and a PhD focused on recruitment and retention of early career nurses. She is passionate about early career development and career progression for health professionals and uses her position in teaching and research to lead in this space.
We spoke with Amanda about the opportunities available to nursing graduates and what she believes makes nursing a good career in Australia.
Is a career in nursing right for me? How do I know?
Amanda: It can be daunting to know what career choice is right for you. I think it is important to note that you’re probably going to have multiple careers in your life, and that takes a lot of pressure off picking where to start.
Nursing provides amazing baseline knowledge which can be applied to many settings. It is a trusted profession which holds you in good esteem in the community. It is a career where you get to apply knowledge, think critically and care for others – usually in a fast-paced and ever-changing environment.
My advice would be that you’ll never know what it is truly like to be a nurse until you start. So if you feel in yourself you want to try, just start. The only person who can decide if it is right for you, is you.
How do I start a nursing career?
Amanda: Starting a nursing career involves beginning education in the field. You can do this through a Bachelor of Nursing degree, or if you already hold a certain type of bachelor degree, you might be able to commence a master’s degree in nursing.
What career opportunities are there in nursing?
Amanda: This is a really difficult question to answer, because currently there are new roles and new spaces where nurses are working that weren’t there when I studied. And when you finish there will be even more roles and more spaces where you find nurses using their skills.
There are traditional areas such as hospitals and primary healthcare spaces where nurses work. But nurses can also be found in cosmetic medicine, in the travel industry, in community centres, in sports… the list can go on and on.
- Some nurses focus on their clinical skills and follow a career projection where they expand their clinical skills and grow their career in this space, some nurses move more towards management roles, and others expand into education roles.
- Some nurses are pulled towards political roles and others into advocacy roles.
- Some nurses move into nurse practitioner roles, and others – like me – move into academia, applying their nursing skills to research and higher education.
What are graduate outcomes like for nursing students?
If you want to be a registered nurse, Australia is a great place to be one. It’s a regulated profession with an average graduate annual salary over $70,000.
Data from 2021 indicates that the nursing profession grew by 19% between 2016 and 2021, and Labour Market insights suggest great career diversity for nursing and positive future industry growth. Certain areas of this workforce (including primary care, aged care and rural and remote locations) are experiencing workforce shortages, which can make it easier to find work.
And while a steady salary and job security are important, nursing also happens to be a career where you get to make a real impact on the lives of others, which is a motivating factor for many nursing students and graduates.
Take a glimpse at what it’s like to study nursing at UQ, or dig deeper into the entry requirements and graduate outcomes of the Bachelor of Nursing or Master of Nursing Studies.