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Why now is a great time to become a nurse

With projected future growth of nearly 14%, nursing is considered by the Australian Government as the country’s most in-demand career. If you’re dreaming of a career supporting people through healthcare, it’s a great time to become a nurse. 

‘Nurses make up approximately 54% of the healthcare workforce,’ says Associate Professor Lauren McTier from Deakin’s School of Nursing and Midwifery. ‘In 2014 there was a projected shortfall of approximately 85,000 nurses by 2025 or 123,000 nurses by 2030. The COVID-19 pandemic has most likely blown out these figures.’  

While nursing staff have always been an essential and important part of the healthcare system, it’s hard in our post-COVID world to discuss careers in nursing without acknowledging the issues of staff wellbeing and burnout. But recent data suggests the industry is shifting in favour of improved work-life balance, with more flexibility as well as stability for healthcare staff.  

Aged and disabled carers and registered nurses top the National Skills Commission’s list of the jobs projected to grow most by 2025.  

Why is nursing such an in-demand career? 

‘There is an increase in the need for nurses due to increased burden of disease in our society,’ Assoc. Prof. McTier says.  

‘The ageing population and the fact that people are living longer increases the burden chronic illness such as heart disease and diabetes. The complexities of care provision are increasing with this.’ 

The strain on the industry has also been increased by the issues of staff burnout and workforce retention since the pandemic, but ‘health services and education providers are looking at innovative ways to further support nurses’ wellbeing to address staff retention,’ Assoc. Prof. McTier adds.  

Those looking for an international career will be happy to learn Australian nurses are highly regarded internationally and there are many opportunities to work overseas.  

‘The nursing shortage is a worldwide phenomenon, not just in Australia, and the pandemic has increased the skills shortage. The quality of the education of Australian nurses and the environments in which they work make nurses in Australia world leaders in nursing,’ Assoc. Prof. McTier explains.  

How are careers in nursing expected to change in the future?  

Due to the ageing population, opportunities working in aged care are expected to grow significantly, with some nursing roles shifting from acute hospitals into the community, including care at home, Assoc. Prof. McTier says.  

However, nurses will continue to work in a wide variety of settings, from health services and primary care to schools and correctional facilities. 

‘Nurses provide 24-hour, seven-days-a-week patient care and are the constant health professional caring for patients. As such they coordinate patient care,’ Assoc. Prof. McTier says. ‘It is such a privilege to care for patients and their families at all stages of life.’ 

Being an incredibly human-centred role and one of Australia’s most trusted professions, nursing is considered a very ‘safe’ career. This is to say, if you become a nurse, you won’t need to be worried about a robot taking your job.   

‘Artificial intelligence will not be able to provide the humanness, person-centred care that is delivered by nurses,’ Assoc. Prof. McTier says.  

‘Telehealth has impacted the way nursing care is delivered and nurses will adapt their knowledge and skills to use technologies such as virtual reality to provide care into the future.’ 

Plus, the Australian Government’s new Nurse Practitioner Workforce Plan will support the growth of this vital workforce.  

‘Nurse practitioners are registered nurses who provide patient care in an advanced and extended clinical role,’ Assoc. Prof. McTier explains.  

What can nursing students do to futureproof their careers? 

An undergraduate degree in nursing is just the beginning of your career journey, Assoc. Prof. McTier says. Becoming an active lifelong learner is a critical part of futureproofing your career in nursing.  

‘Nurses tend to undertake postgraduate qualifications in specialty areas such as mental health, perioperative and critical care or undertake further education in leadership and education,’ she explains.  

One great aspect of choosing a career in nursing is you can always switch around within the industry down the track, so there’s no need to worry about getting bored.  

‘Nursing roles are many and varied and changing areas within nursing may certainly feel like a career change without leaving the nursing profession,’ Assoc. Prof. McTier suggests.  

As an undergraduate nursing student, you’ll be eligible for registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia and should consider working at a health service as a Registered Student of Undergraduate Nursing (RUSON) before you graduate.  

‘Have a curious and growth mindset and take opportunities in the nursing profession as they come along,’ Assoc. Prof. McTier recommends.  

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Prof Lauren McTier
Prof Lauren McTier

Deputy Head of School and Associate Head Teaching and Learning,

Faculty of Health,

Deakin University

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