Most of us are aware of how important nurses are to modern health care. There are fewer professions more necessary – especially in an ageing population – or more respected. Their hard work and passion is incredibly important to the health of people, their families and the wider community.
But not everyone has what it takes to be a nurse. It takes someone who’s emotionally stable, hard-working, quick-thinking, patient, who communicates well, is highly capable of empathy, and has a high degree of physical endurance. And that’s just for starters.
Despite the challenges, nearly every nurse out there has a heap of good things to say about their profession – that it’s an honourable, worthwhile and highly fulfilling way to make a living.
Here are just some of the things nurses say about the rewards of their career:
This is the chief reason that many nurses, in the face of what can be a fair degree of pressure on the job, still report a high level of job satisfaction. Nursing is all about the patient – someone whose quality of life or chances of survival often grows directly due to the efforts of the nurse. A job rarely gets more meaningful than that.
As a result of Australia's ageing population, there's a strong demand for nurses. This means stablity and job security for nursing graduates. You can take a look at a snapshot of the health industry here.
Think nursing is all about checking blood pressures and sticking needles in arms? Think again. With training spanning health science, social science, technology and theory, nursing takes a lot of expertise.
There are many kinds of nurses, from ER to ICU to mental health nurses and midwives. All can involve completing physical assessments of patients, checking equipment, administering medications and pain relief, washing patients, dressing wounds, filing reports, liaising with doctors and insurance companies, responding to emergencies … and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
In a healthcare setting, a situation can change fast. A patient’s health can quickly deteriorate or the casualty ward can suddenly fill, and you might have more than a dozen patients to monitor at once. Handling everything thrown at you can sometimes be a challenge, but many nurses say this dynamism and pace is what they thrive on. If you like repetitiveness and taking it easy, then nursing is not for you. If you like variety and a job that keeps you on your toes, then it could be perfect.
In studying a nursing course, you have different levels of qualification to aim for that roughly equate to different levels of responsibility.
When it comes to the clinical side of things, Assistants in Nursing (AINs) – which include Aged Care Workers (ACWs), Personal Care Assistants (PCAs), Health Services Assistants (HSAs) and Care Support Employees (CSEs) – essentially work under the direction and supervision of a Registered Nurse (RN), assisting in the performance of nursing duties.
Then there’s an Enrolled Nurse – a second level nurse who works under an RN, but with greater responsibility than an AIN.
Next up is the Registered Nurse, of which there are several different kinds specialising in areas such as paediatrics, mental health, disabilities, acute care and community care. The more experience you have, the greater your responsibility.
Nurse Practitioner is another step up the ladder. These nurses are essentially RNs educated to operate both independently and collaboratively in an advanced clinical role.
On the management side of things, Nurse Managers have extensive clinical experience but specialise in information and HR management. They effectively supervise and manage nurses in clinical care environments, usually in specific departments.
Then, on the education front, there’s the Nurse Educator, charged with the designing, planning, implementation and evaluation of nursing education and staff programs in educational and health settings.
Whether you’re starting out or looking to move ahead in nursing, whether you want to be an AIN or nurse manager, a qualification is your ticket to entering the profession and moving your career forward. There is a wide range of nursing courses available to suit your career needs.
And while most nursing courses involve an element of hands-on experience via clinical work placement, many programs can now be completed largely by distance education.