Use your skills while travelling, and experience the sensation of making a real difference Down Under.

If you’ve done your time on the school bench and got yourself a recognised Nursing Degree or Diploma you’ll find you’re a popular traveller indeed as there are loads of vacant positions across Australia.

Unlike the current situation in the UK, Australia still has a strong demand for health workers, says healthcare recruitment specialist Vicky Roper (IPA Personnel).

“The healthcare industry requires reliability,” says healthcare expert Tracy Thorp (Chandler Macleod Health).

As well as, “strong communication skills, the ability to work well under pressure, an empathetic nature and the ability to work autonomously, as well as part of a team.

“As you can imagine, this area involves dealing with emergency situations that can realistically mean the difference between life and death.”
Nurse, nurse!

There are plenty of opportunities to get qualifications and training in Australia, either through educational institutions or through recruitment agencies in the nursing sector.

Chandler Macleod Health provides a comprehensive Occupational Health and Safety induction for all of their nurses in addition to annual updates on CPR training. Registrations are state-specific, and if you plan to work with children, checks and MRSA screening are necessary in some states. Depending on what qualifications you hold, opportunities are many and varied in the nursing sector.

“As a nurse you could work in any area from community health,” says Tracy Thorp, “to aged care, emergency to critical care, with the Department of Defence or in the allied services.”

The pay and the stay Rates of pay vary depending in which sector a nurse is working (ie, in aged care or in a private hospital), and whether the employer pays above the award.

“The nurses’ award also varies between states and is based on years of experience. Temporary placements are usually more highly paid,” says Tracy Thorp.

Due to the employment shortage, there are also many opportunities for sponsorships in nursing. Should you decide that the Australian sun is more fun than London fog, once you’re in a placement you like simply ask your employer about sponsorship possibilities. Alternatively, some recruitment agencies arrange visas for you. IPA specialises in sponsorship of nurses from overseas.
The Oz advantage

Apart from the sun and the fun, some work experience in Australia allows nurses to see Australia, from the most cosmopolitan cities to the coastal areas and the Outback, while they work.

“Regional placements are often sought after for nurses and health professionals as a means of building their knowledge and experience as regional placements allow them to be involved in all aspects of healthcare,” says Tracy Thorp.

Moreover, accommodation is provided cheaply and travel allowances are applicable in most cases.
Interview with a Specialist Nurse
Kelly Taylor, 32

What made you decide to work in Australia?
I initially got a Working Holiday Visa so that I could see as much of Australia as possible, whilst working.

What job did you have at home?
I was working as a registered nurse back home.

And what is that you do now?
I’m a specialist nurse.

How did you land your new job?
When I first got here on my Working Holiday Visa six years ago, I worked for a few different agencies in order to try out different hospitals before committing to one. When I eventually found one that I was happy with, I was lucky enough to get sponsored by them.

Where in Australia have you worked so far?
I’ve worked in a few different hospitals in NSW, both in the private and public sector.

What are the good points about your new job?
When you work through an agency, your hours are really flexible as you pretty much choose your own hours. If you’re on a rotating shift you might do a shift on the weekend and get a day off in the week. And it’s always nice to look after patients – you get to meet some really nice people.

Do you have any funny stories to share from your job?
Well, you get some funny comments from the patients. I had one patient who told me if I only was 10 years younger, he would definitely get with me…

Are there any bad points?
Working nights is really hard, and something you might have to do if you work with an agency. Working weekends isn’t always that good, when your mates are going out and you have to go to work. Especially when the weather is so nice! It’s also a stressful job. But being a nurse is really rewarding.

What’s the pay like?
The pay is relatively similar to UK wages, but because the lifestyle here is a lot cheaper you get more out of your money, and it’s easier to save more.

What would be your best advice for travellers considering your job in Oz?
Work through an agency when you first get to Australia – you’ll be able to try out different hospitals. The work environment is really important, especially if you want to get sponsorship. Don’t get stuck in a job you don’t like.