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What is Travel Nursing? How to Travel the World as a Nurse

What is Travel Nursing? How to Travel the World as a Nurse

Today I wanted to chat a little bit about travel nursing. I feel like the definition of a travel nurse has very different meanings to different people. When I personally talk about travel nursing I’m talking about travelling whilst working as a nurse, something I’ve been doing for the past two years. 

If you’ve been following my adventure for a while then you’ll know that I’ve been a nurse in the United Kingdom, Australia and I’m now nursing in New Zealand – what an adventure it has been so far. I thought I’d take this time to chat specifically about travel nursing, what to expect and a few tips on how to start looking into becoming a travel nurse (but honestly, that’s for a whole other post in itself so stay tuned)!

So, perhaps you’ve heard the term travel nurse thrown around but you actually have no idea what it means? Well, as I said before to me travel nursing is someone who travels whilst nursing at the same time. There are so many different ways of doing this from moving to a whole new country to travelling around your own country whilst taking on different nursing assignments/jobs.

Travel Nursing VS Agency Nursing – What’s the Difference? 

When you start to think about travel nursing don’t get too hung up on different terms/titles. 

As well as ‘travel nurse’ you’ll also hear other terms thrown around like agency nurse. From my experience over the last few years ‘travel nursing’ is a pretty American term. ‘Agency nurse’ seems to be more of an English term but both are used in Australia and New Zealand. They are basically the exact same thing. 

When deciding to become a travel nurse it usually means joining some form of nursing agency. A nursing agency is a business that employs nurses and sends them on assignments to places that require the specific skill set that the nurse has. Essentially a travel/agency nurse is usually someone who is part of an agency rather than someone who is employed by a hospital/part of a unit or team. 

Example: An ICU nurse with 4 years experience will most likely be sent on assignments involving, but not limited, to ICU. 

There’s a whole catalogue of different ways you can work for an agency but the most popular routes are:

  • Casually 
  • Full-Time/Part-Time 
  • Contracted 

I worked for the agency Health Care Australia in Australia (funnily enough) and had some of the best moments of my career to date. 

Different Types of Travel Nursing 

One aspect of travel that I’d like to make clear is that agency or travel nursing doesn’t always mean freedom. It all depends on what type of work you take on with the agency you join. 

Casual Nursing with an Agency 

This is the type of work where you will get the most freedom whilst travelling and working as a nurse. This is exactly what I did for a year in Australia. Without it, I wouldn’t have had the flexibility to live in two different states and take over 3 months off to travel. I got to choose my shifts and choose when I wanted time off which was perfect.

The agency took into account my skill set and experience and then placed me in hospital settings that matched those. I was sent a shift and then I could decide whether or not to accept that shift. There were no set hours that I was required to work and I could take time off whenever I wanted too. It was honestly the perfect way to keep nursing whilst living in Australia. I was able to take my life back into my own hands and keep myself well balanced.

Being able to maintain a healthier ‘work-life balance’ is one of the main reasons I’m a huge fan of casual nursing. 

However, as wonderful as that sounds there are some things to take into consideration when you decide to work on a casual basis. 

Hours are not guaranteed. Some weeks I’d have plenty of shifts and others not so many. There’s often no sick, maternity or holiday pay. If these things are important to you it’s a good idea to keep them in mind before taking casual nursing full time. Of course, it all depends on the agency you work for as some do offer sick pay/holiday pay/maternity pay incentives so just do the research beforehand. 

Full-Time Nursing with An Agency 

Some agencies also take on nurses full time meaning they have to give you full-time hours. This essentially means that you get first dibs on the shifts that are available before the casual nurses. Every agency is different but some may require that you must accept the shifts they offer without question if you’re working on a full-time basis. If you do work for an agency full-time they often will send you where the work. This means you can be at a different hospital on a different ward every shift which can be challenging mentally – again another story for a whole new post so make sure you’re following along. 

Short or Long Term Contracts via An Agency 

Sometimes agencies will offer short or long term contracts within a certain hospital or care setting. For example, a children’s ward in Sydney may be looking for a nurse for a block of 14 weeks. If they are having trouble hiring someone they often reach out to agencies to see if they have any nurses who would be interested in filling in this assignment. 

I’ve never taken such an assignment so I can’t comment too much but I would think you have to see out the assignment until the end once a contract is signed. You can definitely take these if you usually work casually too. 

In the United States, some nurses become travel nurses full time and are sent all over the country on assignments. I’ve met nurses online who literally move from state to state in the US as a travel nurse. I think this is a brilliant way to see a country and keep your nursing career firmly intact.

If you’re a nurse in the USA considering travel nursing then you have to follow Kylee from Passports and Preemies! 

Other Ways to Nurse Whilst Travelling 

You don’t have to join a nursing agency to travel and nurse it’s just a very popular route especially casually because of the freedom. But, in some countries agency nursing just isn’t very popular. 

Take New Zealand for example, they do have nursing agencies but the hospitals don’t use unless they really have to. This means work could be a little sparse which is a big risk in a new country. 

Always do your research first, phone the agencies and ask them how the work is where you want to go. Due to the lack of agency nursing in New Zealand, I worked a permanent contract again whilst living in Wellington.

Once you’re a registered nurse in the country you want to travel to you can apply for any job you want as long as you meet the criteria they’re asking for. 

Hospital Bank/Pool

Most hospitals around the world have their own ‘pool’ or ‘bank’ of staff. This is similar to agency nursing but you’re employed by the hospital or care setting. When a unit in the hospital it short-staffed they send you there. This is a great way to still work casually if a hospital doesn’t really use an agency. Hospitals will often prefer to use their own pool or bank because agency nurses come at a higher rate!

Permanent Contracts 

Agency nursing or casual nursing really isn’t for some people and that’s okay. But that doesn’t mean you can’t travel and nurse!

Reach out to hospitals you think you’d like to work at and chat with the manager about what options you may have. Most big hospitals will have someone who dedicates their time to helping and giving information to overseas nurses. 

I’m a huge advocate for both travelling and nursing, I think it’s pretty amazing if you can do both! I’m so thankful that I’ve been able to travel to both New Zealand and Australia whilst keeping my career firmly intact. I might not be as far along in my career in terms of ‘progression’ as some of my peers that I went to school with but nursing around the world has added so much value to my career! 

If you’re thinking about becoming a travel nurse in Australia or New Zealand then don’t hesitate to send me an email with any questions you might have! Even if you have any questions about nursing in the UK feel free to ask me. I obviously trained in the UK so don’t have any experience in applying for registration as an overseas nurse but I can definitely point you in the direction of some people who have! 

I hope some of you have found this post useful and possibly even inspired you to take a look into becoming a travel nurse. Either way, make sure you’re following me along on Instagram and subscribe to Alicia Overseas in the side-bar. I have some very exciting posts all-around travel nursing coming up! If you did enjoy this post I would love it if you could share it with your friends!

Are you thinking about travelling the world as a nurse but unsure how to do it? Well in this post I'm busting the myths about the term 'travel nurse' and going into details on how you could travel the world whilst being a nurse! #nursing #travelnursing #registerednurse #nursingaustralia #nurseabroad
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Happy Travels and Happy Nursing, 


Complete Guide to the New Zealand Working Holiday Visa

Complete Guide to the New Zealand Working Holiday Visa

In 2019 we are so lucky that we can access the world so easily. Travelling is something I urge everyone to do if you want to. Since exploring Australia whilst on a working holiday visa I think it’s a brilliant way to travel and we are so lucky to have this option. From Australia to Canada working Holiday Visas are available in multiple countries around the world including New Zealand. Working Holiday Visas give travellers the opportunity to travel whilst working with different countries. In this blog post, I’m giving you a complete guide to my experience in gaining a New Zealand Working Holiday Visa. 

Disclosure: This is not immigration advice. This is my experience of gaining my working holiday visa. The information in this post is about my experience only and not immigration advice. The information was true at the time of publishing in August 2019 and may have changed since. 

How to Get a Working Holiday Visa in New Zealand

If like me you hate paperwork then you’ll be pleased to know that you can apply for a New Zealand working holiday visa completely online. There is no need to print out any external forms which makes the process quicker too. The only document we needed for our applications were our passports and I think I input my driver’s license too. Just have two forms of identification ready just in case. 

Who Can Get a Working Holiday Visa to New Zealand?

New Zealand is one of the many countries around the world that offers travellers a working holiday option when visiting the country. In order to apply for a working holiday visa in New Zealand, you need to be a citizen of a country that has an agreement with New Zealand, see a list of these countries here. There’s also an age limit on getting a working holiday visa in New Zealand. All applicants must be aged 18-30. Upon receipt of a New Zealand working holiday visa, you’ll be allowed to live and work in the country for up to 12 months. 

I think that working holiday visas should be taken advantage of. We are so lucky as travellers to be able to stay in a country for an extended period of time. It gives us a chance to really connect with the destinations instead of just passing through quickly as well as giving us a chance to work. Backpacker jobs can be found relatively easily in New Zealand but if you can take your current career with you then why not. I qualified as a nurse in 2015 and have nursed in three countries across the globe. If your job is transferrable it’s definitely looking into it for a job on a working holiday visa in New Zealand.

2 Year Working Holiday Visa to New Zealand 

A standard working holiday visa gives you one year in the country as mentioned above. But if you’re a citizen of the UK or Canada you may be allowed to stay for 23 months. New Zealand has an agreement with both countries which gives travellers an opportunity to get a 2-year working holiday visa to New Zealand. In order to gain the 2-year visa to New Zealand, you’ll need to have a medical done to show that you are in good health. There are also requirements for the one year visa which I’ll outline below. 

A beach to visit in new zealand whilst on a working holiday visa
Imagine spending a year in places like this!

New Zealand Working Holiday Visa Requirements 

In working to get a New Zealand Working Holiday Visa you must meet the following requirements: 

  • Be aged between 18-30 years 
  • You have no children or dependants on this visa 
  • You cannot accept a permanent job 
  • A medical certificate is required for a 23-month visa (UK and Canada)
  • Have sufficient funds in your bank account

If you meet these simple requirements and your country is eligible to apply for a working holiday visa in New Zealand then you should be all good. You can check on this website to check your country. Click on the country and the next page will let you know whether or not you’re eligible to apply for a working holiday visa to New Zealand at this stage. Try not to worry too much if applications are ‘closed’ for your country it could be subject to change at any time. 

The Cost of a New Zealand Working Holiday Visa

The great thing about working holiday visas is that they don’t cost the earth. In May 2019 when I applied for my New Zealand working holiday visa the total cost came to $232 Australian Dollars or 123 GBP. So it really isn’t that expensive especially if you are saving and planning ahead for your trip. Other visas such as work visas or permanent residency visas are much more expensive. So, a working holiday visa is also a great option if you’re looking to travel on a budget whilst earning as you go. 

How Long Does the Visa take to come back?

On the website, they say to allow up to 28 days for processing of a Working Holiday Visa. Again, this is subject to change depending on when you apply for your visa. But for us, it took only 4 days to come back to us accepted. I think it just depends on how many applications they have to get through at that time and if you have any additional factors on your application that need addressing. 

How Much Money Do You Need in the Bank for a Working Holiday Visa?

I think this one depends on which country you come from. Once granted a working holiday visa to New Zealand you won’t need to prove that you have a return ticket. What you may have to prove is that you have sufficient funds in your bank account. I don’t know if this is different depending on where you are from but for us coming from the UK, we needed to have 320 NZD for every month we’re in the country. It worked out at like $4000 each or something near that. Once you start your application the exact figure will be outlined.

In reality, you may or may not be checked upon entering New Zealand. We didn’t get asked to prove our funds but I know some people have and it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Weta Cave - one of the unique Lord of the Rings Attractions to visit on a Working Holiday Visa
Or visiting unique movie set locations like this?

If you can’t afford to support yourself maybe you should rethink your travel plans or saving strategy. I do get that it’s frustrating because on a working holiday visa you can work and perhaps you plan on working right away. But rules and rules being marched straight out of the airport is seriously not worth it. It states on the New Zealand immigration website that your primary intention on visiting New Zealand should be to ‘holiday’ so I guess they’re just making sure you have some money to do that. Although I’m not sure who could live on $320 a month here in New Zealand because it is hella expensive, I spend that a week at least! 

Extending a New Zealand Working Holiday Visa 

As I mentioned above extending a New Zealand working holiday visa is possible. If you are from the UK or Canada you may be eligible to extend your 12-month visa to 23 months. For more information check out this website. Even if you’re from another country you may still be able to apply for a three-month extension in New Zealand but there are some requirements. You must have completed 3 months of seasonal work in New Zealand to be able to apply for this visa. 

What is Seasonal Work in New Zealand?

I guess this rule is similar to the one in Australia where if you complete farm work you can extend your Australian working holiday visa. However, this one is only for a three-month extension no more. The immigration website defines seasonal working as someone who has undertaken work in the following fields during their time in New Zealand, planting, maintaining, harvesting or packing crops.

Finding a job in New Zealand 

Finding a job in New Zealand for us was relatively easy. My partner David has been working in the hospitality industry for a lot of years and got a job as soon as we finished our Auckland to Wellington road trip. As a nurse by trade, I’m lucky that I continue my career whilst on a working holiday visa too. But there are a few websites which can help you get a job if you’re looking for more of a temporary or ‘backpacker’ style of employment. Backpacking jobs in New Zealand are so varied from bar work, farm work, waitressing, working at a hostel to more seasonal jobs such as fruit picking or working at a resort during the Ski-Season. I recommend joining some Facebook groups as soon as you’re ready to start looking for a job because a lot of people advertise through Facebook. 

Travelling in New Zealand 

I’m sure as soon as your feet touch down on New Zealand land you’ll want to be off exploring. We travelled the majority of the North Island for our first month in the country and it was awesome. But a few things to note about New Zealand whilst you plan your working holiday visa. New Zealand is expensive and I didn’t realise how pricey the country was until I got here.

If you’re familiar with Australian living costs then imagine that but a little more. Petrol is double that of Australia. Yes, diesel is cheap but you have to pay diesel tax in New Zealand so I’m not sure how cheap that makes it. Food is expensive, I mean $6-10 for value cheese – come on! Ensure to be prepared and do some research before planning an epic New Zealand road trip. The wages are also a lot lower than Australian wages but a lot higher than UK wages. The living cost is the same as in Australia. I’d just say plan well and do your research.  

Aside from the slightly higher than expected living costs, maybe I was in denial, our working holiday visa in New Zealand has been amazing so far. Work has been easy and the process of getting our visa was also easy. Once you’ve filled out the application form you should be well on the way to arriving in New Zealand for your next adventure!

Sharing Is Caring

I hope that you enjoyed this guide to obtaining a New Zealand working holiday visa. I also have a post on getting a Working Holiday Visa in Australia which you can read here. Feel free to email me any questions you may have regarding working holiday visas in New Zealand and I will try my best to answer as best I can!

If you're looking into a working holiday visa in New Zealand then this post is your ultimate guide. Find out who get a New Zealand working holiday visa, how to get one and everything you need to know based on my personal experience! | New Zealand Working Holiday Visa | Work in New Zealand | Live in New Zealand | Live and Work in New Zealand
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Wishing you happy travels to New Zealand and beyond!


New Zealand Nursing Registration for International Nurses

New Zealand Nursing Registration for International Nurses

Qualifying as a nurse was the proudest day of my life. As was the moment I stood in Manchester airport in 2018, waiting to take off to travel 10,000 miles to the other side of the world. Becoming a nurse and travelling to Australia were my two biggest milestones in my life and now that I’ve made both happen I’m making more and more of my dreams come true.

Australia was just the start of my travelling adventures and unbeknown to me it would only be the start of my travel nursing adventure too. A year later I’m now exploring the majestic island of New Zealand and of course, I’m keeping my career on track too.

You’ll know if you’ve been following my blog for a while then I’m a huge advocate for travelling whilst nursing at the same time! Before I took the plunge I thought it would be so hard to get registered in other countries. I thought the processes would be long and expensive. Whilst in some respects that is true, it’s all 100% worth it in my eyes! I create these posts about getting registered do help nurses like you feel a little reassured that whilst these processes can be daunting they really aren’t that bad!

In this particular post, I’m giving some insight into my experience of the New Zealand nursing registration for international nurses process.

Disclosure: Please note that this post is my personal experience only. This is not immigration advice. This information was correct at my time of application and may differ from the current requirements. This is simply the experience I had when applying for nursing registration in New Zealand. 

Why Register as a Nurse in New Zealand?

After travelling to Australia whilst nursing for a year I didn’t want to start travelling again and leave my career behind. Right now, I can’t imagine doing anything other than nursing so, I try to take it everywhere I can. Since the requirements are similar to the UK and Australia and they speak English in New Zealand I figured that I’d get my registration in New Zealand too. Getting my nursing registration in New Zealand was actually the simplest process I’ve ever been through when it comes to nursing. If you’re a fellow nurse reading this then you’ll know how much paperwork we often find ourselves filling out! 

Luckily getting my registration as an international nurse in New Zealand was straight forward. But that’s because I’m already registered with AHPRA in Australia. For my guide on getting registered with AHPRA as an international nurse check out this post. If you are registered as a nurse in Australia you can apply for registration in New Zealand via the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Act 1997. 

What is the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Act for international nurses?

The Trans Tasman Mutual Recognition Act is an agreement that the New Zealand Nursing Council have with AHPRA. If you’re registered as a nurse in Australia then you can become registered in New Zealand through this mutual agreement between the two countries. This agreement is for anyone who is registered in Australia not, just international nurses. Bear in mind that you have to be on active on the AHPRA register. So, you need to keep paying AHPRA registration for as long as you want to be a registered international nurse in New Zealand. In the rest of this post, I’m going to give some tips on applying for New Zealand Registration as an International Nurse via the Trans-Tasman agreement and applying for a work visa. 

Becoming a nurse in yet another country is so rewarding. Being able to care for people all over the world is a great blessing and in this post I share how you can too! Getting registered in different countries can be a nightmare with lots of paper work so here I've broken down all the tips you need to becoming a Registered Nursing in New Zealand | How to Become a Registered Nurse in New Zealand | #nursing #travelnurse #travelnursing #nursingnewzealand
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Before You Apply for New Zealand Nursing Registration as an International Nurse

Before applying for your registration in New Zealand is always good to do some research first. Nursing in New Zealand is different compared to Australia. Australia uses agency nurses a lot in most big cities. This allows nurses to have a lot of flexibility and seeing the country as well. In New Zealand, they don’t use agency nursing very much, not in the same way they do in Australia anyway. So its good to do some research on what jobs are available around New Zealand. It’s wise to do so before spending time and money to get registered. It’s also good to do some reading on the New Zealand Nursing Council website to ensure you meet the requirements of becoming a registered nurse in New Zealand. 

Here are some useful links to consider taking a look at before applying for registration: 

How to Apply for New Zealand Nursing Registration for International Nurses via The Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Act 

To apply for New Zealand nursing registration as an international nurse you’ll need to create an account on the nursing council website. You can apply for the registration online which makes the process super quick. After completing the registration form the processing time for gaining registration in New Zealand via the Mutual Recognition is 5-10 working days. You’ll need to get some documents certifying before sending off the application form. The documents I needed to get certified were: 

  • Copy of Passport Certified
  • Certified Copy of Original Nursing Qualification – original nursing certificate from the university you attended.
  • Certified Copy of AHPRA Registration – it is acceptable to use the downloaded copy from AHPRA online. You’ll need to print it out to show the Justice of the Peace but you can show the original on your phone. 

These are the documents that I had to get certified as of August 2019. The documents differ depending on your application for example if you’ve changed your name. So make sure you go through the application form before getting anything certified. 

Once the documents are certified simply upload them online to the application form and send it off. It’s really simple and my registration only took 6 days to come back. 

Certifying Documents in New Zealand and Australia 

Getting documents certified in New Zealand and Australia is free, unlike the UK where it does cost. It cost me 70 GBP for six items certifying when I first applied for my AHPRA registration. You can Google the nearest Justice of the Peace or Notary of the Public for times closest to you. If you’re in Australia and want to start working in New Zealand as soon as you land then make sure you complete the application form in Australia.

How Much Does the New Zealand Nursing Registration for International Nurses Cost?

Nursing registration in New Zealand for international nurses does cost like everything else in life. The fee to apply for the registration through the Trans Tasman Recognition Act is a non-refundable $340. I don’t know if that means no refund if they don’t accept your registration application, you’ll have to some research into that. But if you’re registered in Australia there shouldn’t be a problem for you, hopefully. 

Annual Practising Certificate for International Nurses in New Zealand 

After your registrations as an international nurse has been approved, you’ll then need an Annual Practising Certificate (APC) in New Zealand to be able to practise. This is essentially like paying your registration fee every year in the UK or Australia. This keeps you on the registration for another year. It threw me off slightly after paying for the registration as I was unaware I’d need to do this as well. It’s really simple once your registration has been approved online you’ll be taken the page where you pay for your APC. For one year it cost me $137.50 and your renewal date will be the month that your birthday falls. 

So altogether the cost of registering in New Zealand as an international nurse for me was $477.50 or 239 GBP. It is expensive but it’s so rewarding to be able to travel the world whilst keeping a nursing career. New Zealand has been an easy country to transition to as a Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse (NICU) as it is very similar to Australia. So far I haven’t noticed a big difference in any drugs or main practices. Australia and New Zealand work very closely together in terms of evidence-based practice.

After paying for the APC you should be able to nurse in New Zealand. The New Zealand Nursing Council may request some Certificates of Good Standing from other nursing bodies you’ve worked under. But it will be different for each individual application. As a UK and Australian registered nurse, I didn’t need to provide any extra documentation.

Applying for a Work Visa in New Zealand 

A question that I often get asked is if you need a visa before applying for nursing registration is if you need a visa first. I guess that’s entirely up to you. You don’t need to show proof of a current visa when applying for nursing registration via the Trans Tasman agreement but I think it’s always sensible to get a visa first. To be able to work in New Zealand you need a work visa. So there isn’t much point in applying for registration if you aren’t eligible to work in the country. The process of getting a Working Holiday Visa for New Zealand is quite straight forward if you’re eligible. I can’t speak for any other work visas here in New Zealand as I’ve personally only applied for a Working Holiday Visa. 

I hope you enjoyed this post on applying for New Zealand nursing registration for international nurses and I really hope you found it helpful. It is relatively straight forward to apply via the Trans-Tasman agreement. If you are applying for registration straight to New Zealand then the process will be a lot more complex.

I’ve got a whole post on gaining AHPRA registration in Australia which you will find useful if you’re heading out to Australia first! I can’t recommend nursing in Australia more, the pay is great and opportunities are everywhere. I wrote a post on my experience of nursing in Australia here too which you might find helpful. 

If you did enjoy this post then I would so grateful if you could share it!

Becoming a nurse in yet another country is so rewarding. Being able to care for people all over the world is a great blessing and in this post I share how you can too! Getting registered in different countries can be a nightmare with lots of paper work so here I've broken down all the tips you need to becoming a Registered Nursing in New Zealand | How to Become a Registered Nurse in New Zealand | #nursing #travelnurse #travelnursingnewzealand #nursingnewzealand
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10 Ways to Guarantee More Shifts Agency Nursing in Australia

10 Ways to Guarantee More Shifts Agency Nursing in Australia


No matter where in the world you practise, agency nursing can be hard work. When it comes to agencies a lot of nurses join alongside their current role to earn a little extra money for a rainy day. But what about when you want to take on agency nursing full time? The flexibility to work when you want and freedom to have time off whenever you feel like it, sounds perfect doesn’t it? So why aren’t nursing doing it? Well, with no guarantee of actually getting work nurses often feel a lack of security. But, for the last year, I’ve been agency nursing full-time in Australia! And, though sometimes it has been a struggle the perks have astronomically outweighed the worries, for me anyway.

I came to Australia on a Working Holiday Visa with the priority being to travel this spectacular country. Of course, I couldn’t afford to spend a year in Australia without working. So, I figured joining a nursing agency would be the best way forward (I am already a registered nurse in the UK). I can choose my hours, take holidays when I want and only have to work what and when I want too. Whilst agency nursing in Australia has been amazing for me from start to finish there are a few strategies I have adopted when it comes to securing shifts. These aren’t ‘rules’ per-say when it comes to getting shifts as an agency nurse and everyone’s experience is different. But, by using these simple tips I’ve been able to work full time as an agency nurse in Australia for a whole year and it’s been blooming fantastic!

Disclaimer: This is my experience only and even if you implement these strategies it does not mean you’ll get shifts. This article also contains affiliate links where I receive a small commission if you purchase anything on this page – Thank You!

Healthcare Australia – An International Recruitment Agency for Agency Nursing in Australia

This isn’t a sponsored post but I wanted to mention the agency, Healthcare Australia. Healthcare Australia (HCA) is an international recruitment agency for nurses. This is the nursing agency I’ve worked for in Australia for the last year. HCA provides shifts all over Australia. I first heard about them when I was still In the UK where I attended a conference about nursing in Australia. You can register with HCA from the UK before arriving in Australia and before you have AHPRA registration. This I found this really helpful as the team at Healthcare Australia guided me through the AHPRA registration process.

What is AHPRA?

AHPRA stands for Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency. It’s basically the equivalent to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) in the UK. You have to be registered with AHPRA before you can start agency nursing in Australia. 

For my detailed post on obtaining AHPRA Registration as an Overseas Nurse click here

HCA has been wonderful to work for from start to finish. This agency has provided me with shifts, reimbursed the cost of my flight to Australia and ensured I was given the opportunity to gain CPD hours. If you’re from the UK don’t forget about revalidation with the NMC back home, you can use these hours towards it! I honestly can’t fault Healthcare Australia. The system is so easy to use, you simply pop in when you are available to work via an online app and they will send you shifts. Even during quiet periods, I have managed to get shifts with Healthcare Australia but no matter what nursing agency in Australia you join these simple tips below may help get you more shifts!

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10 Ways to Guarantee More Shifts Agency Nursing in Australia

Be flexible

This is probably the most important and highly employable trait an agency nurse in Australia can have. Think about it, agency nurses are booked by a hospital or a facility when they are short staffed or require extra help. The facilities pay extra for agency nurses to work. My hourly rate was $53/hr in Queensland. The salary that agency nurses receive is high and the hospitals pay a lot of money on top of that to have you there. So naturally, some shifts may be booked by the agency last minute. A ward may get two nurses ring in sick at 3 am and therefore need some extra help for the day shift starting at 7 am. Or vice versa, nurses calling in sick or a patient requiring one on one care in the daytime may require help for the night shift.

If you refuse to be flexible and refuse last-minute shifts then you may struggle with agency nursing in Australia. The agencies try their best to let you know about shifts as early as possible but sometimes they just can’t. If you are willing and to taking on last-minute shifts then you’re going to get a lot more work than someone who isn’t. I’ve taken shifts at 5 am for a 7 am start before. Be flexible and it will stand you in great stead for getting full-time hours agency nursing in Australia.

Communicate with your Nursing Agency

Agency nursing in Australia is in demand. There are so many international nurses doing agency work and a lot of Australian nurses taking on agency work as well. With Healthcare Australia and every other agency, they will need to know your availability to work. With HCA you simply tick or cross which shifts you can work for that week. For other agencies, you may have to call to let them know. However, you need to communicate with the agency to keep your availabilities up to date. If you forget and don’t let them know you want to work, how will they know? Because the demand for agency nursing in Australia is high if you aren’t available the agency will find someone who is. So always keep your availability up to date!

I tend to do mine 3 weeks in advance and plan around it or sometimes I will say I’m available for every shift and then make myself unavailable when shifts start coming in. For example, I make myself available for every night shift one week then I get Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday night through, I will cross off the remainder of the week as unavailable.

Make Yourself Known to Managers and Ask for Block Bookings

When you are posted to a new ward as an agency nurse always introduce yourself to the team and the manager of that ward. I’ve learnt that being open and making yourself part of the team will always benefit. Managers like it when agency nurses introduce themselves and give them some insight into their experience. If you like the ward you’ve been posted to let the manager know. Ask them if they need any block bookings then you’d be happy to help. During my time agency nursing in Australia, I blocked booked on two wards, one for three months and one for five just by asking the manager if they needed it! Of course, sometimes this isn’t possible but it’s worth asking because a lot of the hospitals do it.

Why Take Block Bookings as an Agency Nurse?

As an agency nurse in Australia, I found that taking block bookings is awesome. You work with the same team all the time who get to know you and vice versa. Sometimes agency nurses will get the lightest workload or least complicated because the staff on the ward don’t know your capabilities. Basically the more you work somewhere the more the staff will ‘trust’ you. Working block bookings whilst agency nursing in Australia made me feel like I had a ‘home’ and part of a ‘team’ which for me is really important. It makes it easier learning how one ward works instead of ten – you can learn all their protocols and how they work because even in the same hospital the wards often work differently from one another.

Nursing Essentials in Australia 

Working agency in Australia often means a polo shirt uniform with no real pockets! My nursing belt organiser has been a lifesaver! Australian hospital also let you bring in your own head thermometer which is perfect when you don’t want to wake the kids! 

Agency Nurses – Please Answer the Phone!

This may sound silly but I think this is pretty important. There is nothing worse than an agency nurse sitting at the desk and ignoring the phone. Yes, the phone ringing can be a scary thing especially when you’ve just started working somewhere and only know the minimum about that ward or hospital but just answer it. The permanent nurses will be so grateful if you just answer the phone and then pass on a message or find someone who can help answer the caller’s query, Honestly, this is will give you huge brownie points!

Don’t Get Fussy Whilst Agency Nursing in Australia

This tip comes from personal experience. Although block booking on wards that you enjoy is awesome sometimes it can make you a little too comfortable. After block booking on two wards, I found myself feeling nervous and I’ll admit a little bit fussy when it came to taking shifts afterwards. My brain was going into overdrive wondering what ward I’ll be posted on and if it’ll be nice if people will be nice etc because I’d got so comfortable working with the same people on the same wards. One piece of advice, even if you block book is don’t become opposed to going to other areas or you simply won’t get booked. I never refused to go to another ward but I did wind myself up about it and had to give myself a strong talking to.

Hospital corridor with nurses stood to one side

Is it just me or do all hospital corridors look the same all over the world?

Be Open to Working in New Areas

This tip kind of ties in with the one above. Don’t be opposed to working in new areas whilst working for an agency. During my time agency nursing in Australia, I’ve worked in areas I’ve never stepped foot in before like, Paediatric Intensive Care. I’m not a PICU nurse but when intensive care that has patients that are ready for the ward there is no reason not to go and look after them. The thought of just being in ICU may be scary but it’s never as bad as it seems when you arrive. If you do find yourself in an area you don’t know then just ask any questions if you’re unsure about your patient. Do not come across cocky and overconfident as this will never ever bode well, no matter if you work agency or not.

Be Prepared to Go Where the Work Is Whilst Agency Nursing in Australia

Australia is one big country. Because Healthcare Australia covers the whole country they know which states have work. Be prepared to literally move state if you aren’t getting any work where you’re currently based. And don’t expect it to be the same everywhere. In Brisbane, I got tonnes of shifts at their children’s hospital. But, when we moved to Sydney I realised that their children’s hospital doesn’t even take agency nurses. So I had to attend the hospitals that had the work even if they weren’t my first choice. Luckily, I had never had to move states because of lack of work but I know some nurses have. Be prepared for anything as an agency nurse down under!

Keep Your Mandatory Training Up to Date

Whilst working as an agency nurse in Australia it is still the responsibility of the health practitioner to keep all mandatory training up to date. If you work with HCA they will send you alerts to the app when your training is running out. If you don’t keep your training up to date then you won’t be given shifts. The same goes for your visa and AHPRA renewal, as soon as these are out of date you won’t be able to work so keep on top of it all.

Image representing nursing in each different country all over the world

You really can nurse anywhere in the world..

Consider Rural Placements

Australia is one magnificent country and I don’t just mean because of it’s amazing scenery. Australia is huge in size with communities in every corner far and wide. If I have one regret during my time agency nursing in Australia it’s not taking the opportunity to try a rural placement. This basically means nursing in a remote part of the country. I’ve always considered it but it just didn’t happen. If you find yourself at a point where shifts are just not available why not try out somewhere completely different? HCA offer these placements regularly and what an amazing experience that would be! 

Find out more about rural placements with Healthcare Australia Here

Side Note:

If you’ve done or are thinking about doing a rural nursing placement in Australia then I would love to hear about it and maybe you can write about it on Alicia Overseas, just send me an email at [email protected]

So, agency nursing in Australia should you do it? YES. One million times yes. The best part about working through an agency is you get to decide when you work. I don’t know about you but I don’t know many permanent nursing jobs where you can choose your hours and just take off when you like! Of course, the disadvantages of working for an agency is that you don’t receive sick pay, maternity leave or annual leave pay. But you’ve got to decide where you are in your life and how ‘important’ these things are to you right now. For me, these factors were minimal and with the awesome salary for agency nurses in Australia you can save heaps making up for these small cons.

I believe it is 100% possible to work full time in Australia with an agency – I’ve just done it for a year. Remember,

  • Be Flexible whilst agency nursing in Australia
  • Communicate with the agency
  • Be open to different nursing fields including rural placements
  • Keep up to Date with training whilst agency nursing in Australia
  • Go where the work is
  • Introduce yourself and make yourself known (in a good way)!
  • And most important ANSWER THAT PHONE!

I hope you enjoyed these tips for getting more nursing shifts in Australia. Nursing in Australia is rewarding and I have learnt so much about myself, practise and the country too. If you did enjoy this post don’t forget to share it with your friends and have a look at some of my other posts about Nursing whilst you travel:

My Experience Nursing in Australia

Guide to AHPRA Registration for Overseas Nurses 

Working Holiday Visa for Nurses – the UK to Australia 

Happy and Healthy Travels






AHPRA Registration for Overseas Nurses – My Experience

AHPRA Registration for Overseas Nurses – My Experience

Nursing in Australia is one of the most rewarding things I’ve done in my career to date. If you’ve been following my adventures for a while then you’ll know that I’ve been working as an agency nurse in Australia for the last year. When it comes to nursing I have to say that this has been my most requested post ever! I wrote a post on obtaining your Working Holiday Visa in Australia as a Nurse from the UK which you can take a look at here. The road to obtaining AHPRA registration for overseas nurses can be daunting and time-consuming but in the end, it’s 100% worth it.

To work as a nurse in Australia as well as visa you also need AHPRA registration. AHPRA stands for, Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (APHRA) which is basically the equivalent to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) in the UK. In this post, I’m going to talk about my own personal experience on gaining my registration and some of my personal tips for applying for and gaining AHPRA registration for Overseas Nurses.

Disclosure: This is not application advice or immigration advice. This is my personal experience on gaining my registration as a nurse in Australia. This information was correct at my time of application and may differ from the current requirements. 

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Is it worth getting APHRA Registration for Overseas Nurses on a Working Holiday Visa (WHV)?

Before getting into the nitty-gritty talk of the actual application I wanted to briefly share my experience of working as a nurse in Australia, on a WHV. The short answer to the question posed above is yes, one million times over, yes! I understand that it can be time-consuming and sometimes damn right hard work to obtain APHRA registration for overseas nurses. But  I assure you it will be totally worth the hard slog in the end. In Australia, on a working holiday visa, you are able to work for up to one whole year. The only restriction is that you can only work with one employer for six months. Therefore doing the work to get AHPRA registration to be able to work for a whole year is a small price to pay.

If I hadn’t of been nursing in Australia then our experience in this inspiring country would have been very different. As well as improved working conditions, better patient to staff ratios and all-around better work-life balance compared to the UK, the pay rates for nurses in Australia in excellent!

As an RN 4, a registered nurse with 4 years experience, working three 12 hour shifts I can make up to $1800 AUD a week! That’s the equivalent of 980 GBP a week! And yes, life here in Australia is more expensive like rent and food but its nothing compared to wages out here. If I hadn’t been nursing then we wouldn’t have been fortunate enough to go on some of the most amazing trips during our time here because we couldn’t have afforded it! I dread to think how much money you would have to save to travel to Australia with no work for a year!

Do I need to Apply for my Working Holiday Visa or AHPRA registration first?

The order doesn’t matter too much but no visa equals no work. A work permit is required in Australia and if you don’t have the right to work then there is no point applying for something work-related. Apply for the working holiday visa first and then AHPRA registration, just my opinion. Once you’re granted a working holiday visa for Australia you have one year to enter the country so you have plenty of time. That doesn’t mean you can’t have everything for AHPRA registration ready to be sent off just make sure you have the right to work in Australia before physically sending off the application.

How Far in Advance Do I need to apply for AHPRA Registration for Overseas Nurses?

This question I can’t answer. The processing time for all registrations is completely different all year round. To some extent, the time of year will matter but nobody really knows. One month AHPRA may be inundated with applications and the next month they may receive hardly any, all affecting the time on processing your application. One thing I will say is that, like anything in life, your application for AHPRA registration as an overseas nurse will come back a lot quicker if you fill out every correctly and send off all the information correct, the first time around.

On the internet and within Facebook groups there is a lot of negativity towards AHPRA and the application process. It can be a nightmare, timely and costly to obtain AHPRA registration for overseas nurses. But you have to follow their process otherwise it isn’t possible. So don’t try and cut corners by not sending off bits of information and if you don’t know something or are confused regarding the application then ask someone for help. When I was applying for my AHPRA registration I was already registered with the nursing agency Healthcare Australia (which I did before anything else) and I cannot express enough how much support their UK office gave me whilst I was filling out this application.

I literally sent my answers for each question in an email to my recruitment adviser (she probably wanted to kill me!) to make sure I was filling out each step correctly. There are so many people out there who want us to succeed so make sure you utilise services out there. Healthcare Australia was also able to advise me on when I should send my application off as they are somewhat aware of current processing times.

Nurse at work

Top Tip: Renewal of Registration for AHPRA Registration for Overseas Nurses.

Before you apply for your registration/decide what time of year to arrive in Australia keep in mind the renewal regulations for AHPRA registration for overseas nurses. In the UK registration is renewed every year depending on the month of qualification. For example, I qualified as a nurse in September so I renew my registration every September. In Australia, it’s a little different. Everybody renews their registration on the 31st of May. So no matter when you are accepted onto the register you will have to renew by May the 31st. This basically means paying your renewal fee of $170 so you can remain registered by AHPRA in Australia. Even if your registration is accepted in April you will still need to reregister in May. Just food for thought.

My Tips for Filling out the AHPRA Registration for Overseas Nurses Application Form

For the remainder of this post, I’m going to give my top tips for filling out the dreaded application form. I’m not going to break it down question by question but I am going to share the tips that were given to me that I found helpful at the time of application. This information was true and correct at the time that I published this post and that information may change at any point.

Be Realistic

This is the most important tip that should be taken away from this post. If you think you can wake up one morning, book a flight for next week and be nursing in Australia the week after then you are under a crazy illusion! AHPRA registration for overseas nurses takes time and preparation. I was preparing for my application months prior to sending it off.

From gathering documents, getting things certified, contacting university etc, it takes time to get the ball rolling. It also depends on outside organisations like the NMC. So please give yourself plenty of time when applying for registration in Australia. If I can say one thing about AHPRA it’s they are very thorough, and so they should be, but this leaves no room for error. Rushing the application and making a simple error will requiring having to resend the whole thing off delaying the application even longer. Be smart and prepare in advance.

Use the form as Bedtime Reading

This first tip may sound a little silly but trust me you’re going to want to take it. Download the application form which is the Application for General Registration as an Enrolled nurse, Registered nurse or Midwife (for internationally qualified nurses and midwives) – AGOS-40 form found on the AHPRA website at this link.

Print off two (or three) copies of the form and read it over and over again. On one of the rough copies make notes as you go. I basically began filling out the questions and when I came across one that I didn’t understand or needed clarification on I highlighted it and took it back to the recruitment office at Healthcare Australia for some guidance. By taking the time to read the application form properly will give you a good chance of not making mistakes when you come to fill it out for real.

Read Pages 14 & 15!

When you first look at the application form go right to the end and read pages 14 and 15. Page 14 is a checklist of all the documents you need to attach to the form and page 15 gives definitions of certain aspects of the form. Page 15 gives you the details for parts like what’s required on your Statement of Service, CV and literally every other part of the application. I think because this part is at the end of the application people often miss it but it is so important! It will make your life filling out this application a lot easier! We are always told to ‘read the fine print’ and how many of actually do it? Well, in this case, I urge you to read all of the fine print.

Gather all of Your Documents

As well as the application AHPRA requires a lot of other documents to accept someone onto the nursing register. So make sure you get these documents organised and collected in advance. The extra documents you need for the application at this present time are:

Proof of Identity – Copies

Certified Copies of Academic Qualifications – Copies of Nursing Qualification Certificate

Statement of Service from Employers from the last 5 years – Page 15 gives tells you what is to be included on the Statement of Service

CV – Use the AHPRA CV format giving on the AHPRA website. The CV must be the original copy photocopies are not accepted by AHPRA.

Link to AHPRA CV format here.

ICHC Criminal History Check Reference Page – You will need a criminal history check by an ICHC approved vendor. Fit2Work is approved and recognised by AHPRA costing 96 GBP and takes a few weeks.

Certificate of Good Standing/Certificate of Registration from the NMC – 34 GBP you apply online at this website and the NMC must send directly to AHPRA. 

Link to NMC certificate of good standing here

University Transcripts – My university sent these directly to AHPRA.

Gather all of these documents in advance so that everything is certified and ready to be sent off by the time you are ready to send the application to AHPRA.

The 3 Month Rule/Statutory Declaration Check

The NMC Certificate of Good Standing and Fit2Work results are only valid for three months so I did these things last. If you arrive in Australia after this time then you need to fill out a statutory declaration check in Australia. You can download and print these forms from the AHPRA website here and get it signed by a Justice of the Peace or Notary of the Public in Australia. This service is FREE in Australia (amazing) so just type into google for your nearest one. You can usually find someone in a shopping centre or library where they do signings.

Certifying Documents

Documents that need certifying are any documents that are copied and any document that doesn’t have the original ink pen signature. AHPRA require documents to be signed by a Justice of the Peace or Notary of the Public. Where you live will depend on who you go to and how much it costs. Mine cost 70 GBP to certify all documents in 2018.

Sending the Application

Once you’ve got the application filled out, all of your documents attached and certified you can send the application. All international applications are processed in Sydney so just send it straight to the Sydney office. AHPRA won’t tell you when they have received your application but the fee will be taken from your bank. Once they take the money you know they have received the application. Make sure you send the application tracked so you can keep an eye on it!

Extension from AHPRA

Depending on the volume of applications AHPRA has to process they might ask for an extension. Basically, this means giving them more time to process your application.  It is annoying. But you have to accept the extension or they can withdraw your application. Mine got asked to be extended and then came back approved just days later.

Presenting in Person

When applying for AHPRA registration for overseas nurses we need to present in person to the AHPRA office on arrival to Australia. No appointment is required. Just turn up with your ID documents to be checked and statutory declarations if relevant.

AHPRA also require proof of when you entered the country. I kept my boarding pass from the plane and this was sufficient. They also need proof of address in Australia which can be an Air BnB or even Hostel. What I did was make sure I had an Australian bank account before arriving. Upon arrival, I went to the bank and put my Air BnB address. The bank then generated a bank statement with the address on which was sufficient for AHPRA. You can change the address at any time when you get a more permanent address.

Hopefully, once you present in person your registration will get approved quickly! Mine only took a few days. I really hope this post has given you some confidence when it comes to applying for AHPRA registration as an overseas nurse. It can be daunting and scary but the hassle is totally worth it in the end and it’s really not that bad! If you utilise a support network, ask questions and prepare well in advance you should be okay! All in all my application only took 2 months from being sent off to me receiving my approval in principle. Try not to listen too much to the negativity online and just focus on your own journey! Nursing in Australia is highly rewarding and an experience you’ll treasure forever!

If you’d like any more information on the AHPRA application form in a little more detail or my experience of nursing in Australia then you can always email me at [email protected] and I’d be glad to help out!

Nursing stethoscope

Best of Luck!

Good Luck on your journey down under! My nursing journey will next be taking me to New Zealand, I can’t believe this will be the 3rd country I’ve worked in as a nurse! If you told me when I qualified that this is where life would take me I would of laughed in your face!

I’ve left some links that I think you will find useful below!

Helpful Links

AHPRA Website:

Apply for a Working Holiday Visa:

AGOS-40 Form:

AHPRA CV Format:

Nursing and Midwifery Council Certificate of Good Standing:


For more information on applying for a Working holiday Visa as a Nurse from the UK check out my other post here! There are a few changes when applying for a WHV compared to someone who isn’t a nurse.

Disclosure: This is not application advice this is my personal experience on gaining my registration as a nurse in Australia. This information was correct at my time of application and may differ from the current requirements. I take no responsibility for your application.

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Nursing in Australia – My Experience

Nursing in Australia – My Experience

I have a question for you. Would you consider working abroad in Australia or would you rather quit your job and just travel? I decided to go for it and start nursing in Australia during my Working Holiday Visa but I know that decision isn’t for everyone. 

Leaving a job behind and travelling the world seems to be on every millennial’s bucket list. The notion of quitting your current life in exchange for one that involves no alarm clocks and a new country every month. To most this is a dream simply impossible to grasp. But more and more people are making it their reality and this notion is no longer a vision conjured up inside the imagination but in fact, real life. So how exactly do people just up and leave their jobs, friends and families for a life of travel? Well in this blog you won’t find out, sorry.

What you will find out is how and why I’m doing the opposite. How nursing in Australia has changed life for me in so many ways. Instead of quitting my job I decided to look into nursing in Australia so that I didn’t have to kiss my career goodbye. I’m now eight months into a year of travel around Australia with my career firmly intact (ish). In this post, I’m going to talk about how I think it is possible to live a life of travel with a career, whether it’s your current career or a brand new one and what could happen when you take your career overseas with you.

This post will be coming right from the heart and is not a fluffy ‘every nurse should move to Australia because the pay is better’ type of post. In this post, I’m talking about how eight months of travel whilst nursing in Australia has been for me. You’ll find out the challenges, rewards and the wave of emotions I’ve experienced and ultimately the answers to two crucial questions.

Was the hassle of becoming a registered nurse in Australia worth it?

Will I be continuing to take my career with me on my onward travels beyond Australia?

Saying Caio to your boss and flying out of the workplace, winking at your colleagues as you pass them by, must be such an exhilarating feeling! Though, I did technically leave my workplace I knew I’d be doing the same work in a short time after arriving in Australia. The feeling of knowing you aren’t working for a year or more? Well, I can’t imagine how insane that would feel! There are many reasons why people do quit their job to travel and equal reasons as to why people like me take their career with them. The logical reason people assume we decided on working abroad in Australia is that we hadn’t saved enough money, which is total garbage. We could’ve travelled comfortably on the budget that we had saved for Australia.

There were a few reasons why I wanted to start nursing in Australia. I wanted to experience living in Australia not holidaying. Living full time in Australia was always a vision I imagined coming true at some point in my life. I really wanted to get a feel for what’s it really like to live and become a nurse here. After all, who wouldn’t want to live on holiday?

Secondly, if I’m being brutally honest, I’ve been falling out of love with my nursing career in the UK for a while. I wanted to see if changing countries and the conditions helped. Of course, I had a huge list of pros and cons to nursing in Australia which I go into more detail about below. But first, let’s get into how I started nursing in Australia and how you can take your career overseas too!

Nursing in Australia – My Career

Naturally, I’m lucky in the sense that I have quite an easy profession to transfer overseas. As a registered nurse it’s a career that is in demand all over the world but of course, it still has its limitations to getting work easily. Before I even thought about nursing in Australia I knew that to succeed I needed to do plenty of research. This will be the same with every single career.

No matter how transferrable your skills are research is the most important part when you’re even considering taking your career to work abroad. I know people who have woken up and decided one day that they are moving countries and expect to be nursing for example, in Australia, within a month. That to me is craziness because it takes long enough to obtain registration for overseas nurses in Australia or just move jobs within the country you live in! The research is key! 

Gaining your AHPRA registration as an overseas nurse – check out my complete guide here!

Working Abroad in Austalia – Research Your Career

A lot of people find themselves at a loss when thinking about how to research working abroad in Australia so I wanted to share some tips. You can also download the PDF below for some extra helpful hints! When I was transferring my career overseas I looked into these things, if it was possible, how long it would take, how much it would cost, if I needed to do any more training and the visa work rights.

In some countries, the length you have to go to take your job overseas is sometimes not worth it. For example, if I wanted to nurse in the USA I know I have to do an exam, if I wanted to nurse in say France I would need to learn French before even thinking about it. So it’s important to weigh up the pros and cons when even just thinking about quitting your job to travel the world or taking it with you.

Pros and Cons

The pros and cons for me were obvious and I didn’t need much persuading when deciding whether or not I was going to try nursing in Australia. The registration is the exact same as what’s taught in the UK meaning that all degree credentials are recognised here in Australia, no exam required (HUGE PRO! For someone who hates exams over here!!).

The pay rate for nurses in Australia equates to double that of the UK, yes, please! And I knew we’d be staying in Australia for a year so it meant that we didn’t have so much pressure to save up enough money to survive for a year with no job!

As well as all of the above it also meant we had the opportunity to travel slowly. Slow travel is a concept that I’m falling more in love with. When I was twenty-one I experienced the adventure of a lifetime on a Trek America tour of the USA’s West Coast.

Although these three weeks were some of the best in my life I couldn’t help but think that it would’ve been better if we could spend extra time in some of the destinations. We saw so much but in some places, we weren’t there for long enough to really consume the place. To me travel is about taking it all in, experiencing every inch of a place from its culture, locals, food, sunsets and sunrises! Something you just can’t do when you only stop somewhere for an hour. I knew when coming to Australia I wanted to be able to enjoy each and every place. So staying here for a year was always on the agenda, not to mention that slow travel has a positive impact on our planet and achieving sustainable travel.

Nursing in Australia has meant we can break up periods of work and travel. Australia is a massive country to get around and having the money and flexibility of staying for a year have meant we can see so much more than if we just stayed for a few weeks. When we have enjoyed periods of travel it’s meant that we could save up extra cash from working and spend more on our trips! For example, on our East Coast Road trip we probably spent more than your average budgeter, though we are always on the hunt for budget travel, we had a little extra which went a long way!

So with the pros outweighing the cons, we decided that I was definitely going to get my AHPRA nursing registration here in Australia. It took some time and the process was hard work but I started organising myself a year in advance and it all went through pretty swimmingly!

The process of getting registered in Australia a nurse is for a whole other post which you check here!

You can also check out my post on Getting an Australian Working Holiday Visa as a Nurse’ here! (Yes, there are some differences)!

My Experience of Nursing in Australia

So after a lot of paperwork and almost four figures from my healthy bank balance gone I was finally a registered nurse in Australia! So what has that meant for me, my career and my travel? Well, it’s been a total rollercoaster ride! There’s been highs, lows and damn right unmanageable situations but before I delve into the emotions I want to talk about how to find balance working abroad in Australia and travelling.

Finding Balance, Travelling and Nursing in Australia

The main priority in living down under was always the travel. I wanted to live, breathe, experience the true Aussie lifestyle and take in all its wonder. So even though I knew I wanted to nurse here I knew that was my second priority, the bit on the side rather than the husband. I made sure that with every decision I made that my ability to travel this country wasn’t in jeopardy. Luckily for nurses, we can join what’s called an agency.

Basically, I pick my hours, my own shifts and I can just take off for a week or month without giving anyone notice or a second thought! This has honestly been the best part about nursing in Australia and I doubt I will ever go back to a permanent nursing role ever again.

I know that a lot of businesses and jobs have agencies so make sure you explore all the options before taking on contracts overseas. Teachers, can you just do supply work? Construction workers think about if you can take a short contract like 2-3 months, are you a creative who could go freelance or a data analyst who could work from home/the poolside? You need to know all the options to ensure that travel stays the main priority. To me, there isn’t much point in working abroad in Australia if you can’t have any say in your hours or time off. If you are taking a permanent role don’t forget to ask about annual leave as it could be a lot shorter than what you’re used to!

Since arriving as a nurse in Australia I’ve faced challenges that have been difficult but, I’ve also been able to work in some amazing facilities and with some beautiful people doing incredible things. One of the hardest things about working abroad is getting used to the differences. The different policies, protocols, different drugs, observations procedure and by far my worst nightmare – THE MACHINES! Working out to use a different IV pump in each different hospital could’ve sent me over the edge. 

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But how has nursing in Australia impacted on my year in Australia

Travelling Australia whilst nursing has brought so much to my life. I’ve worked alongside amazing people and made some friends that I will cherish for life. It’s been one of the most rewarding experience’s knowing that I’ve helped families at the other side of the world come through some of the hardest times of their lives. I’ve doubled my pay which yes, has had a huge impact on how we’ve been able to travel here in Australia. We started working pretty quickly after hitting Brisbane in June and didn’t need to use any of our savings! Crazy right? So we were more than able to take a month off to enjoy the Australian East Coast for a whole month with no expense spared when it came to experiencing places like Fraser Island and the Whitsundays, without nursing in Australia that wouldn’t have been possible.

On the subject of pay, my eyes have been opened to the world of weekly pay, why don’t we do this in the UK?! It has felt amazing to not have to worry about what we’ll be eating during that last week of the month but we’ve also spent more on things we wouldn’t have before like, cameras, clothes, eating out because we can simply say  ‘we get paid in three more days anyway’ doesn’t quite work like that when its the excuse every week!

I’ve learnt about the different nursing practice here in Australia to the UK which I must admit I have found questionable at times. It’s hard to change your practice, in whatever career you have, after you’ve been taught to do it a certain way for so long. One of the most challenging things about nursing in Australia has been ‘We don’t do like that it here’ for the simplest tasks. It’s made me question myself time and time again.

But I’ve also learnt new practices which I can take home with me and apply to my practice. I find myself thinking, ’we should do it like this’ on more than occasion as well. I’ve learnt to be more adaptable and flexible since working agency as you can be moved from ward to ward a lot! I’m amazed how lucky I’ve been in Australia to have constant work via the agency Health Care Australia and how quickly I’ve fit into the teams I’ve been working with here!

But it hasn’t all been plain sailing and it’s taught me a lot about myself as a nurse and a person

At the start of this post, I mention how I was falling out of love with my nursing career back home. I was exhausted from the constant shift work swapping from nights to days, fed up of us getting no pay rises and struggling to make ends meet by the end of each month. Teams are demotivated with the constant pressures of the NHS and understaffed conditions and the responsibility posted on me as a human being. I was riddled with anxiety before every single shift.

I quite frankly was questioning whether it was all worth it. But I wasn’t ready to throw the towel in just yet, nursing in Australia could be a whole new ball game. I could fall back in love with the career I chose OR it could make me realise that it’s just not for me. I bet you’re dying to find out which way it’s gone, aren’t you?

In a nutshell, it’s been a game of swings and roundabouts with everything. For every positive, there’s been negative and vice versa.

Doubling my pay has been incredible and I actually feel like I get paid what I deserve which makes a huge difference to work ethic (like I said this isn’t a fluffy post) but the nature of the work has been the exact same. Shifts are still tiring but I don’t have to swap from days to nights because thanks to agency work I get to choose! The pressures are less of those than the NHS but guess what once you nurse in Australia and get used to their staffing ratios, it’s hard when the wards here are ‘short-staffed’. Yes there are more nurses in Australia but like the NHS there is of course sickness, agencies cancel and ultimately you still end up being short staffed. 

The responsibility remains the same, it’s still peoples lives in my hands and I have no idea if my brain can cope with that half of the time. I’ve had to be the bravest I have ever been working out here as a nurse in Australia. As I said, travel was always the main priority so I was always going to be moving around and having to meet a whole new team of nurses and new protocols every few months has taken its toll for sure. But I’ve done it and I’ve settled in well in every single hospital I’ve worked in which for an under-confident serial worrier is pretty amazing! 

So if you’re following me correctly you can probably see that not quitting my job to travel the world and working abroad in Australia has sent me riding a wave of emotions but ultimately it’s been the BEST THING I could’ve done for my career!

And for that, I reason I couldn’t be more proud and happy that I did it and I urge anybody to go for it and see how it helps you grow as a person! Nursing in Australia has made me face my demons head-on. I’ve been a worrier since before I can remember, ask anyone who knows me, I over think everything but back home with my friends and family I’d just shrug it off and go have a good time. But here with not many friends and my family not just down the road, it’s been hard.

Nursing in Australia has made me face my fears and come to terms with my own mental health that I’ve struggled with for so long.

I’ve found myself taking steps to address my fears and thoughts that hold me back, something I’ve never admitted before even though deep down I know I’ve needed to.  I’ve found myself doing more nursing study, making sure I’m up to date with current evidence-based practice in Australia, asking people for help even if it’s the smallest thing (because in Australia they do the smallest things differently)!

It’s made me realise that I sometimes need to learn how to chill out and relax after work. This has given me a push to take up new hobbies like Yoga which I would’ve never done before but I just needed to relax and forget about work! So I tried it and wow have I fallen in love with it! It’s made me really think hard about my future and my career and IF I want to nurse anywhere else in the world!

Working Abroad in Australia, The Reality of Working Abroad in Australia, Nursing in Australia, Nursing Abroad, Working Abroad by Alicia Overseas

So I guess this takes me back to my two questions at the start.

Was obtaining my nursing registration in Australia worth it? Well, I think I’ve answered this one, we’ve been able to do so much more here thanks to having a constant income and I’ve learnt a thing or two about myself that I may never have before so YES. As I said, I would encourage everyone to work abroad whether that’s in your current career or something brand new! Working in a different country makes you see the place in a different light for sure. You feel more like a local and less like a tourist.

Will I be taking my nursing career on my adventures beyond Australia? A million times, YES.

Although nursing in Australia has been hard work it’s been amazing. I’ve gained new skills, met amazing people, learnt how to be flexible and totally transferrable in my role! My confidence has increased because guess what, in every country, the basics of nursing are the same. So as long as you can spot a sick patient the rest can come later! So what if you don’t know how to use that machine they use at that new hospital – YOU’LL LEARN! Nursing in different countries is a real eye-opener and has allowed me to grown massively as a nurse and person. So yes, in June 2019 I will be taking my career across the water and nursing in New Zealand!

So if you want to take your career overseas then please go for it! It will open your eyes to so much and you’ll grow in ways you didn’t know were possible! If you need any more tips or any guidance on taking your career overseas or have any other questions in relation to this post then please comment below or hit me up via email at [email protected]

Thank you so much for reading as always,

Happy and Healthy Travels!


If you’ve worked abroad and found out things about yourself that you never did before then I would love to know your story! Or if you’re starting to think about working abroad in Australia or anywhere else in the world then I want to know yours too! Leave me a comment below or send me an email, I’d love to help you on your journey to working abroad!