Home' The Good Universities Guide : The Good Universities Guide 2017 Contents NURSING 143
What majors can I study?
The following are just some of the majors you can study in this
What you’re in for
Nurses work closely with different health professionals, patients
and their families, and are well known for their compassion and
communication skills. As a nurse, you will encounter some people
during the most difficult times of their lives and others during the
most exciting times. This makes nursing a career that is both
rewarding and versatile.
To find out more about careers in this area, check out the
Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) website at
http://anmf.org.au. This site also links you to your relevant state
or territory nursing organisation.
If you are interested in nursing, you could also consider a range
of other health professions and para-professions. See the field of
study profiles for dentistry, medicine, veterinary science, social
work, rehabilitation, and health services and support. There may
also be some specialisations of interest within the sciences and
the humanities and social sciences.
Courses and specialisations
While most people think of nurses as working exclusively in
clinical practice (looking after the sick or injured) and in hospitals,
there is more variety than first appears. Many work in community
education, factories, offices, schools, pharmaceutical companies,
in administration or in nurse education. There are also many
specialisations within clinical practice, such as emergency, aged
care, midwifery or intensive care.
Although some degrees will let you specialise in a particular area,
you may need to train and work in a range of areas first and
complete additional study after graduation to work in the area you
want to specialise in. This used to be the only way to get into
midwifery, but undergraduate options are now available.
Where to study
In the past, if you wanted to be a nurse you would have applied to
a hospital and not a tertiary institution. Nurses’ unions (nursing is
more unionised than most occupations) agitated for 20 years to
get nurse education moved out of the hospitals and into
universities. Their main agenda was to increase the status and
pay of nurses, and they also claimed that universities could
provide the higher standard of education that nurses need. That
said, since they were first opened in universities, nursing faculties
on most campuses have had problems teaching the practical
elements of the nursing profession and making studies exciting
and relevant. To combat these issues, practical training facilities
such as on-campus simulated wards have opened at many
Some courses are likely to be better than others though, so look
very carefully at the information available and try to get detailed
outlines of any courses you are considering. Pay particular
attention to the amount and kind of practical experience on offer
in each course and try to visit the campus to talk with students
and staff members about courses of interest.
This is an easy field to get into overall, and there are many
courses available. Nursing courses take school leavers,
practising nurses with years of experience and people with some
experience and qualifications from other occupations, including
nursing assistants. Courses vary widely in length, and several
modes of study are offered (including full time, part time, block
study and distance education). In some states, there are
traineeships and VET courses offered for those wanting to enter
the occupation at the ‘enrolled’ or ‘division two’ level rather than
the ‘registered’ graduate nurse level. You can then work your way
up the qualifications and career ladder. (Note: this guide includes
degree-level courses only.)
To compare entry difficulty at different institutions, see the ‘How
tough is it to get in?’ tables in Section 4.
Despite previous shortages in the field, graduate unemployment
has risen in recent years and the ANMF has expressed concerns
over the lack of secure jobs for graduate nurses and midwives.
Experts often recommend completing a dual specialisation in
nursing and midwifery to boost prospects.
FOR FURTHER HELP...
To compare the pros and cons of nursing with other fields of
study, see the table on page 68 and institution profiles in
For more on jobs and careers in this field, see The Good
Careers Guide website at www.goodcareersguide.com.au.
For ratings of postgraduate nursing courses, see The Good
Universities Guide website at
Aged care nursing
Child and family health
Mental health nursing
Rural and remote health
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