Forging your nursing career path in Australia

Few industries are so intrinsically connected with the Australian population as healthcare. As the makeup and conditions of the country's residents changes, so too does the work of nurses and other medical professionals. Julie Riley, a Division 1 Registered Nurse with more than 15 years in local and international selection of Health Professionals and Team Leader of the Austra Health Victorian service providers, provides valuable insight into the health sector and forging a nursing career in Australia.

Population growth along with higher life expectancy places more strain on existing health care facilities.

Strain on the healthcare sector is growing

Healthcare is subject to a combination of factors and conditions that can drastically shape the way it operates. According to Julie, Australia's burgeoning and ageing population is one of the biggest drivers the medical sector today.

"We have a higher life expectancy, people are living longer which places more pressure on our health system. Higher life expectancy also means more people living with chronic disease. Coupled with these issues, we have an ageing nursing workforce and generally poor retention rates of nursing staff creating predictions of a huge nursing shortage in coming years," she says.

"Population growth along with higher life expectancy places more strain on existing health care facilities. More hospitals need to be built to cater for the growth along with suitable recruitment of medical staff, nurses and Allied Health professionals." 

Meanwhile, there is also a myriad of medical and technological advancements moulding the sector, from robotic and laparoscopic surgery to telehealth services. As these developments improve the delivery of medical care, they require new skill sets from those working in this complex industry, making it essential for medical professionals to pursue ongoing learning. 

More nurses are needed to support existing medical professionals.More nurses are needed to support existing medical professionals.

Taking advantage of the demand for nurses

Along with population pressures comes new challenges for nurses, and it's essential that they get more support through the recruitment of additional workers to the profession.

"Frequently being short staffed places extra demand and strain on existing nurses in the workplace, often leading to job dissatisfaction which in turn leads to nurses moving away from the profession. With poor retention rates we need to look at ways of enticing and retaining nurses in the healthcare system," argues Julie.

Julie highlights some of the most in demand nursing specialisations right now, including Intensive Care, Critical Care, Coronary Care, Mental Health, Theatre, Midwives, Emergency Department nurses, Directors of Nursing and Senior Geriatric Care Nurses within Aged Care. With many of these skill sets currently in shortage, there is significant opportunity for nursing jobseekers with the relevant skills to fill such roles. For those looking to take advantage of the shortage, Julie advises doing thorough research into potential employers' strategic plans to maximise your job search and find the right fit. 

"Some people might prefer to work in a smaller country hospital, while others may prefer a facility that's state-of-the-art and a leader in research and innovation. Having done this research equips you with the necessary information to demonstrate that you are knowledgeable about the organisations strategic plans and aims," explains Julie.

"It is important for job satisfaction that nurses, in fact everyone, find the right cultural fit and work for a company that promotes professional development and career growth."

For updates on living and working as a nurse in Australia, check out our Nursing in Oz page on Facebook.