Nursing career paths

Becoming a nurse is a rewarding, inspiring, and exciting journey. Nurses have the opportunity to explore many different career paths, specialising in different areas of the medical system. A pain management nurse, oncology nurse, nurse unit manager, nursing clinical directors, nurse educator, mental health nurse, and theatre nurses are examples of the multiple nursing roles that exist. Understanding the Australian nursing career paths available can help prospective health professionals and those who study nursing to determine what nursing specialties and job opportunities best align with their professional goals.

This article will address some of the most commonly asked questions regarding a career in nursing:

  • What are the types of nursing careers?
  • What settings can nurses work in?
  • Do I need an undergraduate degree to start a nursing career?
  • About AHP Aged Care

What are the types of nursing careers?

There are two main classifications of nurses – enrolled nurse or registered nurse. An enrolled nurse primarily focuses on practical aspects of nursing, such as measuring blood pressure for patients, and assisting in first aid. Registered nurses, however take a higher position and demonstrate ward management through the supervision of other nurses such as graduate nurses. Nursing careers focus on promoting the health and well being of the individual patient.

Enrolled nurse

Enrolled nurses provide nursing care under the direction and supervision of a registered nurse, and as part of an interdisciplinary medical team. With the assistance of registered nurses, enrolled nurses deliver basic nursing care to patients from all backgrounds and ages.

Enrolled nurses will work to follow a care plan set by registered nurses, doctors, and therapists. They provide physical and emotional support to patients and their families, and assist with personal hygiene tasks such as bathing, showering, and dressing.

Registered nurse

Registered nurses are skilled professionals with a license to provide compassionate care to patients in a wide range of settings including hospitals, aged care facilities, emergency care facilities, general practice clinics, schools, and residential homes.

Registered nurses are the key personnel qualified to assess, plan, implement, monitor, and evaluate nursing services. Registered nursing involves being strategically placed alongside other health professionals and healthcare service providers to collaborate and assist in the coordination, management, and delivery of care. 

What settings can nurses work in?

A nurse can work in a number of different health care and community settings, from hospitals to outpatient clinics, depending on their role. Below are the most common work environments for nurses.


Nurses can provide specialised care in different hospital wards such as the cardiovascular, dermatology, or intensive care unit, emergency rooms, and the nursing and midwifery board.

Educational institutions

Nurse educators are responsible for providing patient education, onsite care, and in some cases adolescent mental health support in public or private schools and universities.

Medical practices

In a private medical practice, nurses assist health professionals with conducting routine healthcare services such as administering vaccines, patient assessments, and patient care plans.


In a pharmacy, nurses can provide health care recommendations and examine local patients. They are also responsible for distributing and approving prescribed medicine and treatments.

Aged care facilities

Aged care nurses deliver high-quality health care to elderly patients. They play a vital role in administering medications, observing patients, and managing their health, diet, and chronic disease, and can work in both nursing homes and independent living units. A registered nurse in aged care is also responsible for the safe behavioural management of dementia care and emergency responses to incidences related to falls and infections.

Do I need an undergraduate degree to start a nursing career?

To become a registered nurse in Australia you will require a Bachelor of Nursing or equivalent undergraduate degree or nursing degree. In certain roles, such as for mental health nurses, postgraduate qualifications must be obtained in mental health before practicing in the that field. In addition to a university qualification, you may also consider obtaining a certification related to your future nursing discipline from an accredited course provider.

Empathy and sensitivity, communication, flexibility, thorough medical knowledge, and clinical skills are key attributes that when combined with nursing experience demonstrate, effective nursing leadership skills to prospective employers.

AHP Aged Care offers a program for nursing graduates to integrate them into the workforce with the support of a clinical nurse.

About AHP Aged Care

At AHP Aged Care, we provide temporary and permanent placements for allied health and nursing services within the aged care industry.

Unlike many recruiters, AHP Aged Care work alongside aged care providers across public and private health sectors, developing positive partnerships and aligning our innovative aged care services with their financial and clinical needs. Our team is composed of recruitment consultants who have spent years in the health and aged care space. Because of this, we fully recognise the challenges faced by the aged care industry and can leverage our knowledge in providing qualified and expert aged care staff that stimulate independence, dignity, comfort, and quality of life for all elderly patients.

Careers for registered nurses, enrolled nurses, and assistants in nursing

Rewarding career opportunities in nursing are available now. Discover your nursing career today with Australian Health Professionals.

Contact our head office team on 1800 247 677 to learn more about our available nursing jobs.

Australian Health Professionals

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27 Scarborough Street
Southport QLD


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