Top tips for Australian nursing success

Nursing is both a challenging and a very rewarding occupation, and by choosing to study in Australia you will be able to get the most out of your study experience.

Nurses are placed in unique and privileged positions. Nurses work with people with real health care needs. They get close to people of all ages and from all cultures to promote health and well-being and to care for them through their lifespan.

The traditional role of the nurse is changing rapidly. Nurses make important decisions based on the best available clinical evidence, judged against the particular circumstances of an individual’s needs and local resources. As well as having clinical expertise, nurses need expert communication skills to help them pass on technical information in ordinary language so that patients can fully understand their treatment. A supportive nurse-patient relationship is at the core of nursing.

Globally, the expanding role of the nurse has seen a huge increase in their career options. Nurses often provide the first independent point of care for patients, and nursing leaders are at the forefront in policy debates about health care at local and national levels. Some nurses are now moving into executive health positions. Nursing in Australia occurs within a multidisciplinary environment. Nurses, doctors and allied health professionals including social workers, physio and occupational therapists, dietitians and even alternative health care practitioners, work together to help ensure patients achieve the best possible outcomes. Mutual respect and the value accorded to each member of the health care team is encouraging a much more positive and engaging health care environment for staff and patients.

So, what can you do to succeed as an international student in nursing? Studying at university is a major step for anyone, but having English as a second language and studying in a new country is a giant step.

Top tips for Australian nursing success

“Nursing education in Australia is focused on producing well-informed thoughtful and skilled practitioners”

First, find out what your university has to offer. Study its website before you arrive. If you have never been to the country before, find out about its history, what food you will get to eat and where the local shops are. If you are not staying on campus it may be sensible to choose temporary accommodation options until you get to know the locality. Seek out new friends early, especially those who can help you immerse into the life of the new country. Joining local community or university clubs will help too. Regularly reading the local newspaper will also assist you; television and radio provide other good options.

When you arrive to study, ensure you identify your student advisor and the support services available at your university. For example, at La Trobe University in Melbourne, there is a special orientation week for international students. Then, within the School of Nursing and Midwifery, there are academic staff specially designated as student support advisors.

Nursing education in Australia is focused on producing well informed, thoughtful and skilled practitioners. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and to speak in tutorials and workshops. Being engaged will help you to improve your English language skills and help build your confidence. Learn how to use the library, conduct a good literature search and how to reference your assignments.

Finally, remember to have some fun too. There is increasing evidence that happiness is associated with greater health, success and social engagement.

Written by Professor Gerald A Farrell and Sonia Reisenhofer (2010)
La Trobe University
School of Nursing and Midwifery