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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
AHPRA Website: https://www.ahpra.gov.au/
Apply for a Working Holiday Visa: https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/getting-a-visa/visa-listing/work-holiday-417/first-working-holiday-417
AGOS-40 Form: https://www.nursingmidwiferyboard.gov.au/registration-and-endorsement/forms.aspx
AHPRA CV Format: https://www.ahpra.gov.au/Registration/Registration-Process/Standard-Format-for-Curriculum-Vitae.aspx
Nursing and Midwifery Council Certificate of Good Standing: https://www.nmc.org.uk/registration/working-outside-the-uk/working-outside-the-eu/
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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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!
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!
Please note that there may be some affiliate links in this post! This means if you buy or book anything through these links then I may receive a very small commission at no extra cost to you! Disclosure: This is NOT immigration advice this is a personal experience. The advice listed in this blog is advice I would’ve found helpful when looking to nurse in Australia, it is simply my own personal tips and may not be the same for what you are looking to achieve.
‘How are you nursing in Australia? Are you nursing in Australia? You must’ve taken a gap year to be in Australia right?’ These are a few of the many questions I’ve been asked so far here in Australia. When you move abroad if you’re like me, chatty and nosy, then you’ll be talking to and meeting so many new people! When people who don’t know me find out I’m a nurse the questions come flying in! What baffles me the most is how most people think I’ve taken a career break from my job to travel to the land down under. But that’s far from the case, like a lot of people, I’m here on a Working Holiday Visa which allows me to work and travel in Australia.
‘I wish I could do that, I’m a nurse how are you doing it’ The most common questions I’ve been asked by other nurses wanting to make a move to Australia, or anywhere for that matter. So I’ve decided to start incorporating a little bit of nursing into this blog mainly covering how I’m able to travel and work as a nurse!
In this post, I’m covering everything you need to know about getting a Working Holiday Visa (WHV) for Nurses! Where the process is pretty much exactly the same as any other person applying for a WHV there are some differences. And I’ll warn you now these differences come with a price!
Working as a Nurse in Australia
Okay, so one of the biggies is the question. Can I work in Australia if I’m a nurse? The answer will have you jumping for joy because it’s, of course, a big fat YES! Australia, much like the UK, is crying out for nurses and there is plenty of work for us down under! However, there are some things to consider when you’re looking into whether or not you can nurse in Australia. The main issue is that if you have a diploma you can no longer practice as a nurse in Australia. The only way you’ll be able to obtain your nursing registration in Australia is if you have a degree or have topped up your diploma to degree level. This requirement has only been changed in the last few years and catches a lot of nurses out!
Imagine finishing work and walking past the Harbour Bridge as part of your commute…
Getting Your Australian Registration
Do I need to get an Australia registration to practice? Yep, you sure do! Much like the UK Australia also have their own nursing register and you need to be on it to be able to work here as a nurse. When applying to work in Australia this will be your biggest task and bug bare as a nurse! The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) is the equivalent to the Nursing and Midwifery Council and these are the people who will decide whether or not to let you loose on the citizens of Australia. Now applying for this registration is time-consuming and expensive but I’ve written another post on AHPRA registration for overseas nurses here! Make sure you’re subscribed to my email list for other nursing tips!
Link to AHPRA – Bedtime reading – Make sure you read everything on this website before applying for your registration!
Working Holiday Visa for Nurses FACTS
Before you go head first into making your application I thought I’d clear up a few things that I wasn’t so clear on myself when I started looking into this process. So here are some WHV facts you’ll need to know before you get started!
- How much does it cost? 257 GBP or 450 AUD
- You will need a medical to nurse in Australia on a WHV
- A medical will cost you anything from 300 – 600 GBP
- If you wish to extend your visa to 2 years even as a nurse you must complete 88 Days of regional work
- The current policy is that nursing in a regional area DOESN’T count towards the visa
- The Australian Department of Immigration spot check people at the border to ensure they have $5000 AUD in their bank account. So be safe and make sure you’ve got it.
- You must be 18-30 Years old
- No dependants allowed on this visa ie. children or partners
- The 6 months with one employer rule still applies to nurses so you can only work for 6 months at one hospital
The Working Holiday Visa Process
Or walking past the Opera House perhaps? I nearly cried when I saw this place!
Actually going through the process to obtain a working holiday visa is super easy! It’s literally a form on the Australian government website which you can find here! Simply follow the instructions and fill out the form. You’ll need your passport with you! Now you might be reading this thinking it’s pretty simple and why do you need this post? Well, you probably don’t but with whatever I do in life I love to see how people have gone about it before I do!
Most people applying for the WHV can fill out the form and forget about it but for us nurses the work isn’t over yet. On the form it will ask whether or not you intend to work in a health care setting obviously this answer will be yes. You will then be informed that you are required to attend a medical screening. Your visa will not be looked at until you have a medical.
Can I have the medical before applying for the visa? Nope. To go for a medical for the Australian Working Holiday Visa as a nurse you need to take a specific number with you when you go. When you book your medical you will be asked for the number stated on your application form (error can’t remember what the number is called but it’s pretty obvious). As far as medicals go they are quite easy but you must visit a specific immigration panel doctor. Meaning you can’t go to the GP for it and no you can’t get it on the NHS! Our medical cost us around 300-400 GBP here’s a list panel doctors in the UK where you can get a medical done:
- Knightsbridge Doctors, London
- Spire Little Aston Hospital, Sutton Coldfield
- Medmigrations, Manchester
- Bryden Medical, Glasgow
- The Edinburgh Clinic, Edinburgh
- Nuffield Health, Plymouth
- The Bridge Clinic, Berkonshire
- Spire Cardiff Hospital, Cardiff
You can take a look at this website which is updated by the Australian Government so you know you’re going to the right place.
‘Which way round should I apply, visa first or APRHA first?’
Another question I see asked a lot! Well, that totally depends on you and you’re situation. I did the visa first because when you get your letter in principal from APHRA you only have three months to enter the country. So I did the visa first so I knew I had it, once your working holiday visa is granted then you have one year to enter Australia. Working Holiday Visas usually come back within a couple of weeks if not sooner so you don’t often have that long to wait!
Once you’ve got your visa you are allowed to work and live in Australia for up to twelve months. If you wish to extend this then you must complete 88 days of regional work and, as I said above nursing doesn’t count, even if it’s in the middle of the outback! You can check the government website for what is classed as being suitable for your working holiday visa in the second year, they also have which postcodes you must and mustn’t work in.
No matter where you nurse in Australia the beaches are never very far away…
Obviously, when you’ve applied for your visa you still have to a get job so your work isn’t quite over yet but trust me getting the visa and you’re Australian registration are the hard parts! Getting onto agencies over here is pretty easy and there is plenty to choose from! If an agency isn’t for you then I have known nurses who have landed six-month contracts with certain hospitals so it’s totally do-able!
I really hope this post has given you a slight insight into applying for a working holiday visa as a nurse! Even though it’s quite straightforward don’t let your non-nurse pals tell you it’s easy and inexpensive because for us guys it ain’t! The next nursing themed post I’m going to do is the AHPRA application process because I wish I had someone clearly tell me step by step what to do, which is exactly I’m going to do in my next post so keep your eyes peeled!
Top Tip: The Uniforms in Australia for agency nurses are mainly polo tops with no pockets! If you’re like me and from the UK then you’ll always have your pockets full! Nurses over here have bags that they put there stuff in a little like bum bags, you can take a look here!
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Before you go don’t forget to think about your accommodation too! When you present to APHRA you’ll have to take proof of address here in Australia! You can use an Air BnB address or hostel! Booking.com offer all hostels for some of the best prices!