Good job prospects, decent pay and conditions, rewarding work… All in all, nurses Down Under seem to have it pretty good.

In fact there’s such a shortage of qualified health workers in Australia that it’s very much a worker’s market. And while it’s unlikely many nurses go into the profession for the cash, those in Oz on a working holiday visa could find themselves suddenly more flashpacker than backpacker.

“The nursing sector is very busy in Melbourne at the moment,” says JP Nurseforce managing director John Moore.“We always have more work available than we have nurses.”

Moore continues: “Rates of pay vary depending on experience, but on average a nurse working full-time can expect to clear over $1,500 per week.” However, if you’re yet to drag yourself off the beach and into an agency, there’s a few things it’s worth sorting out, sharpish.

Most important is registering. It’s easy to do online, but you need to do it with the Nurses Board of every state or territory you intend to work in. It can cause delays later if you don’t get it sorted straight away.

Getting hold of a reference (such as MIMS) is advisable, as is getting your head around Australian drug brand names as soon as you can.

Then it’s all about deciding where and what you want to do.

Moore says: “We encourage our nurses to be open about their skills and work preferences to ensure their placements are appropriate and their work is familiar and enjoyable.

“Our nurses typically work hours to suit their travel and social life.”
Another bonus for travelling nurses is that the labour shortage means there are plenty of sponsorship opportunities for those wanting to extend their stays.

So if you decide you prefer the Aussie sun to the London drizzle, just ask your employer about sponsorship opportunities once you’re in a placement you like.

“Nurses wanting to extend their stay will find it easy to gain sponsorship,” says Moore.

“We do this directly or via referral to one of our client hospitals, allowing the nurse to access a long stay business visa.

“We look for nurses that are reliable and professional in their work, and have the flexibility to work in a variety of settings with minimal supervision.”

And getting sponsorship to stay in a job long-term shouldn’t just help you out while in Oz, insists Moore.

“Don’t forget that when you get home you will have gained some valuable experience that will be well regarded in your future career, along with a great opportunity to work alongside locals.”

Helpful links

JP Nurseforce
Ph: (03) 9617 9000 

Critical Care St Judes
Ph: 1300 687 737

Nursing Agency Australia
Ph: 1300 139 366

Royal Darwin Hospital
Ph: (08) 8922 8118

NT Medic
Ph: 1300 133 324

Allied Medistaff Nursing Agency
Ph: (02) 9368 1501