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Career structure

Queensland Health offers nurses and midwives many interesting and diverse career opportunities. Work environments vary from rural or coast hospitals and clinics to busy city hospitals. There are plenty of opportunities to expand upon your education and experience to advance in generalist or specialist roles.

Nursing

There are two levels of regulated nurses in Australia – Registered Nurses (RNs) and Enrolled Nurses (ENs).

Enrolled Nurses have completed a Certificate IV or a Diploma in Nursing from a registered Vocational Education and Training Provider (VET). EN’s are then registered with the Nursing & Midwifery Board (NMBA) to practise.

An EN usually works with a RN to provide patients with basic nursing care but do less complex procedures than RNs.

Registered Nurses are nurses who have completed a minimum three-year bachelor degree in nursing and have passed a national licensing exam to obtain a nursing license and is registered with the Nursing & Midwifery Board (NMBA).

RNs work independently and in inter-dependant teams. RNs are accountable and responsible for their own actions and the delegation of care to ENs and other healthcare workers.

To maintain registration, both RNs and ENs are subject to a ‘practice’ standard and continued professional development standards, as set by the NMBA.

Advanced Practice Nurses or Nurse Practitioners - Nurse practitioners are the most senior clinical nurses involved in diagnosing and treating patient illnesses. Registered nurse educated to a master’s degree level or post graduate qualifications. Both are able to work autonomously and collaboratively in an advanced and extended clinical role.

You will find them working independently, while alongside other doctors and health care professionals, to assess, diagnose, treat and manage patient illnesses.

Nurse practitioners are endorsed specialty practitioners and are able to:

  • treat patients and children independently
  • diagnose and treat infections
  • illnesses, burns, wounds, bites, stings, fractures, chest infections or other health conditions
  • order blood and radiology tests such as x-rays
  • prescribe pain relief and medications to patients
  • refer patients to specialists
  • issue medical certificates were appropriate
  • communicate with your local GP.

Nurse practitioners are authorised by the Nursing & Midwifery Board (NMBA).

Nurses-in-Focus (PDF, 1.28MB) is a Health workforce Australia document that gives further details about the role of nurses.

Midwives

A Bachelor of Midwifery degree is typically a three year full time course, (part-time options are available). Whilst in Australia, Midwifery is a separate specialist study to nursing. There are a number of universities in Australia that also offer a combined Bachelor of Nursing / Bachelor of Midwifery (dual degree). Midwives are registered, post university training, similar to a nurse with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA).

A Midwife is considered experienced after 3 years working full time, post initial registration. Competency and professional development is across the full midwifery practice -pregnancy, labour, birth and post natal care to women and infants.

Further Reading

The difference in nursing roles and midwifery roles is also described in the Nursing and Midwifery Board Codes & Guidelines.

The Australian Nursing & Midwifery Council (ANMC) helps to protect the health and safety of the Australian community by establishing high-quality standards of nursing and midwifery education, training and assessment.

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Last updated: 26 July 2019