Department of Health

Frequently asked questions about nursing and midwifery

FAQs on registering to work as a nurse or midwife in Victoria, how and what to study to become a nurse or midwife, the different study requirements to become a registered nurse or midwife and an enrolled nurse, and how you might further your nursing career or midwifery – what other options are available.

Frequently asked questions

  • What is the scope of what a nurse or midwife can do?

    There is often confusion about what nurses or midwives can and cannot do in practice. Much of what we may think of a nurse being ‘allowed’ to do may be just ‘custom and practice’. In fact, there are very few activities that are specifically restricted.

    How do I know what I can and cannot do in my employment as an enrolled nurse, registered nurse or midwife?

    The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA)External Link has guidelines for nurses and midwives to help them to develop their practice in new areas and also has guidelines for delegation and supervision of nursing and midwifery activities. These guidelines help nurses, midwives and their employers to make professional decisions about their practice.

    Is there legislation for nurses and midwives in Victoria?

    From 1 July 2010 the national registration scheme commenced, replacing the existing state and territory nursing (and midwifery) legislation. The national scheme is underpinned by the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law and is in force in each state and territory and regulates 14 health professions, including nursing and midwifery. The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (Victoria) Act 2009 provides the legislative framework for the national scheme in Victoria and replaced the Health Professions Registration Act (2005).

    For more information about the national scheme, see the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (APHRA)External Link website.

    For more information about nursing, see the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA)External Link website.

    I need a transcript of my original nursing course but the School of Nursing has closed. What can I do?

    A member of the department’s Nursing and Midwifery Workforce team may be able to help you to find any relevant records that may be held in the department. Please contact the Nursing and Midwifery Workforce branch.

    I want to come and work in Australia as a nurse or midwife. What do I have to do?

    Overseas nurses or midwives wishing to work in Australia are required to fulfil a number of criteria prior to arriving in Australia. Information about these requirements can be found on the ‘International nurse graduates’ page.

  • What is Victoria doing to ensure nurses in public health services and hospitals are safe?

    The Victorian Government is committed to addressing violence in healthcare settings and reducing violence against all healthcare staff, including nurses and midwives. For information about the work being undertaken to prevent occupational violence in Victorian health services, see the page on hospital safetyExternal Link .

  • Where can I do a nursing or midwifery degree?

    The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA)External Link has information on accredited courses and course providers.

    Additional information and university websites can be accessed through the ‘Becoming a nurse or midwife’ page in this section.

    You can also search the Victorian Tertiary Admission Centre (VTAC)External Link website.

    What subjects do I need to get into nursing or midwifery?

    For information about your nursing course, refer to the page ‘Becoming a nurse or midwife’ in this section.

    Information about Year 10 or 11 subjects can be found on the Victorian Tertiary Admission Centre (VTAC)External Link website or you can look at the course prerequisites for the course you are interested in by going to the university’s website.

    Can I work as a personal care assistant (PCA) while I am studying to be a registered nurse, midwife or enrolled nurse?

    There is no requirement to be registered or licensed to work as a personal care assistant (or other such job title). If you are working as a personal care assistant, you should make sure that your position description reflects the actual work that you are undertaking and it is clear that you are not working as a registered nurse.

    The conditions you are employed under should be clear and you should be aware that if there is an adverse clinical outcome, your nursing knowledge may be taken into account.

    Is a TAFE institute able to deliver a Bachelor of Nursing course?

    The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA)External Link has approved standards for course accreditation, which are available from its website.

    The standards stipulate that courses leading to registration in division 1 of the national register as a registered nurse must be delivered by a self-accrediting university. The NMBA has decided that approval of all currently accredited nursing programs, including those bachelor degree programs for registered nurses conducted by Avondale College and Holmesglen Institute, will continue under the national scheme provided they continue to meets the benchmark requirements.

    The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council (ANMAC)External Link is the accrediting authority for courses leading to national nursing and midwifery registration.

    I am a teacher, how can I find information about nursing and midwifery careers or find a nurse or midwife to talk to our students?

    To find a nurse or midwife to discuss their work and choice of a health career, you could contact your local hospital, and ask to speak to the director of nursing’s office.

    You could also ask your local:

    • council (especially in rural areas) – they are involved in promoting health careers in their regions
    • university or TAFE provider – they may have opportunities to meet with nurses or current nursing students.

    As well as this website, there is a wealth of information about nursing and midwifery careers supplied on the My FutureExternal Link and Job GuideExternal Link websites.

  • What is an enrolled nurse?

    Enrolled nurses are valued members of the healthcare team, contributing to the delivery of quality healthcare across a variety of services and clinical environments.

    The enrolled nurse provides nursing care alongside registered nurses who coordinate and supervise nursing activities. At all times the enrolled nurse retains responsibility for his or her own actions whilst remaining accountable to a registered nurse for delegated activity.

    Where do enrolled nurses work?

    Enrolled nurses work across a variety of practice areas including acute hospitals, sub-acute and rehabilitation services, residential aged care and community settings such as community health clinics, community mental health and general practice clinics.

    Emergency departments, perioperative, mental health, palliative care, mother and baby care are just a few of the practice areas where enrolled nurses work.

    What qualification do I have to complete to be an enrolled nurse?

    The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA)External Link approves all courses leading to national registration as a nurse or midwife. The course accreditation standards approved by the NMBA require that courses for enrolled nurse registration are from the National Health Training Package.

    An enrolled nurse is required to complete a diploma qualification to enter the workforce.

    A list of accredited programs is available from the NMBA website.

    Enrolled nurses can also upgrade their skills and qualifications by completing single units or clusters of units from the diploma and the advanced diploma qualifications in different areas of practice such as acute care, palliative care and mental health.

    What are the entry requirements for enrolled nurses?

    Entrance requirements vary between providers and prospective students may be required to satisfy the pre-course requirements including: VCE (Year 12) and a pass in Year 10 mathematics; Vocational Education Training ASSESS literacy and numeracy testing (for mature aged students); and a criminal history check (prior to commencing clinical placement).

    Can I complete my enrolled nurse qualification part time?

    You will need to check with your training provider or the list of courses provided by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA)External Link . Enrolled nursing qualifications are generally delivered full time but some training providers do offer part-time courses.

    A list of approved qualifications and providers is available from the NMBA.

  • I want to be a school nurse. What do I have to do?

    For information about primary school or secondary school nursing, go to the Victorian Department of Education and TrainingExternal Link website.

    How do I become a maternal and child health nurse?

    In Victoria, maternal and child health (MCH) nurses are registered nurses who generally have postgraduate midwifery qualifications, who then go on to do additional qualifications in maternal and child health.

    Information on MCH nursing can be found on the Municipal Association of VictoriaExternal Link website.

    How can I find out about the Refugee Health Nurse program?

    The Refugee Health Nurse Program (RHNP) provides a coordinated approach by recruiting community health nurses with expertise in working with culturally and linguistically diverse and marginalised communities.

    The nurses are based in community health services with high refugee populations. For more information, see the ‘Refugee Health Nurse Program’ page.

    How do I become a nurse practitioner?

    For information about this and other questions about nurse practitioners, see the ‘Nurse practitioner’ page in this section.

    I want to do a specialty postgraduate nursing course. Are there scholarships available?

    The Victorian Government offers some support to nurses to undertake further nursing qualifications. Applications for scholarships are generally made directly to your employer.

    For information about this scholarship program, see the ‘Postgraduate nurse scholarships’ page in this section.

    Do I need to be authorised or endorsed to work as a nurse immuniser in Victoria?

    From 1 July 2010 there is no endorsement category for nurse immunisers under the national health practitioner registration scheme.

    In Victoria, the possession and administration of vaccines by registered nurses is regulated by the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 and its Regulations(2006).

    Any registered nurse, registered midwife or enrolled nurse (who does not have a notation) can administer a drug in accordance with an order for that client from a medical officer or nurse practitioner. This includes vaccines.

    However, if registered nurses are to work as nurse immunisersExternal Link , such as in council-operated immunisation clinics where doctors are not present, they can operate under a Secretary’s order.

  • What is the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme?

    The National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (NRAS) began on 1 July 2010. Nurses and midwives who previously held registration with the Nursing Board of Victoria (NBV) at 30 June 2010 became registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA)External Link .

    For more information about the way the national registration scheme operates see the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (APHRA)External Link website.

    How do I know if the course I am studying is one that will be recognised under the national registration scheme?

    If you are enrolled in a course previously approved by the Nurses Board of Victoria (NBV) for registration, this course also leads to registration in the national registration scheme. A list of programs approved by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA)External Link for registration is available on the NMBA website.

    Once registered, can I work in other states or territories?

    Yes. From 1 July 2010 all nurses and midwives have national registration. This means they can work in all states and territories.

    How does national registration affect nurses in Victoria?

    From 1 July 2010, national arrangements replaced the current state and territory statutory registration boards (including Victoria’s) and apply to nurses and midwives and other health professions that are covered by statutory regulation and registration in all jurisdictions.

    How do I know if someone is a nurse?

    All nurses (including enrolled nurses) and midwives must be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA)External Link to call themselves a nurse and work as a nurse in Victoria.

    Registered nurses wanting to check the status of their registration can do so via the public register maintained by the NMBA. Members of the public and employers can also check this register. Re-registration is an annual requirement for all nurses.

    Information regarding registration, the Act and the public register can be found on the NMBA website.

    How can I find out about the number of nurses and midwives working in Victoria, where they work, their average age, etc.?

    The Australian Institute of Health and WelfareExternal Link has detailed data on nursing demographics available from the publications section of their website.

  • I used to be a nurse or a midwife. What do I have to do to be able to start working as nurse or midwife again?

    If you have current national nursing or midwifery registration, you can apply for an advertised position with a Victorian health service. You can check your registration status on the national register on the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (APHRA)External Link website.

    If you are a former registered nurse, enrolled nurse or midwife, contact the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA)External Link to find out how to regain your registration or endorsement.

    The NMBA may advise you to complete a re-entry course. You can find a list of approved public and private providers on the NMBA website.

    Contact course providers to find out if and when places are available.

    I have been told I need to do a course before I can re-register as a nurse or midwife. Who pays for this course?

    The department’s Return to Nursing program previously funded public health services that wanted to employ former nurses and midwives through a re-entry program or refresher programs. This program is currently under review.
  • Who can I ask about wage rates, allowances or entitlements?

    In the first instance, you should refer the question to your employer’s human resources or industrial relations department. Alternatively, the Fair Work CommissionExternal Link holds a copy of all awards and agreements currently active in Victoria.

    The Nurses and Midwives (Victorian Public Sector) (Single Interest Employers) Enterprise Agreement 2012-2016 contains the relevant information on wage rates and allowances in public sector nursing and midwifery.

    How do I find out about nurse:patient ratios and pay rates in my area?

    If you work in the public sector (public health service), the Nurses and Midwives (Victorian Public Sector) (Single Interest Employers) Enterprise Agreement 2012-2016 Schedule C, lists the ratios and provides an interpretation of the terms and use. Schedule A of the same award lists which health services are covered by the ratios.

    If you work in public sector mental health, the current Victorian Psychiatric Services Agreement can be sourced from the Fair Work CommissionExternal Link website.

    If you work in the private sector, you can access your current workplace agreement though the Fair Work CommissionExternal Link . Please note: There are two different searches available: one if your workplace agreement was signed before 27 March 2006 and one if it was signed after 27 March 2006.

  • Do I have to be immunised to work as a nurse or midwife in a public health service in Victoria?

    The requirements for employment vary between employers and employment settings, so you should ask your potential employer what their immunisation requirements are.

    All public health services are encouraged to have a comprehensive immunisation policy in place for all healthcare workers they employ that is based on an assessment of exposure risk for each individual.

    I am a student nurse or midwife. Do I have to be immunised?

    Yes. Students from all health disciplines must provide evidence of up-to-date immunisation prior to undertaking clinical placements.
  • How do I find a job as a nurse or midwife in Victoria?

    Applications for nursing and midwifery positions in Victoria are made directly to the employer. The Health JobsExternal Link website has a list of available positions within the Victorian public health sector.

    Where can I find a job as an enrolled nurse?

    Now more than ever, opportunities exist for enrolled nurses in the health system. Health services maintain career web pages displaying vacancies within their service and clinical environments. Nursing vacancies in the public health system are mostly advertised on the Health JobsExternal Link website.

  • Is a PCA a nurse?

    No. A nurse is someone who has undertaken a nursing and/or midwifery qualification and is registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia.

    A personal care assistant (PCA) (or patient care worker) may also be referred to as a healthcare assistant or worker, personal services assistant or a variety of other titles. Whatever the job title, a PCA is not a registered health professional but may (or may not) have undertaken training such as a Certificate II or III in health services assistance or aged care.

    For information about PCA training, see the Victorian Skills GatewayExternal Link website.

    What can a personal care assistant do?

    In general, a personal care assistant (PCA) provides support and assistance to patients in a variety of health, welfare and community settings such as help or care while eating, dressing and walking about.

    In practice, the functions or tasks that make a PCA’s role will depend on the patients or clients being cared for and their needs, the setting and the other members of the team and their roles.

    Whatever the PCA job description includes, the PCA and their employers must be sure they have the appropriate skills and knowledge to do the task, including knowing what to report and who to report to, and they are supported to safely perform their role in the team.

    I am a registered nurse. Can I work as a personal care assistant (PCA)?

    Yes, as long as you do not hold yourself out to be a nurse (that is: imply or say you are being employed as a registered nurse) while you are working as personal care assistant (or other such job title).

    The conditions you are employed under should be clear and you should be aware that if there is an adverse clinical outcome, your nursing knowledge may be taken into account.
  • What is NURSE-ON-CALL?

    NURSE-ON-CALLExternal Link is a telephone health line providing Victorians with immediate, expert health information and advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

    For information about NURSE-ON-CALL, including providing feedback or about any job opportunities, see the NURSE-ON-CALL website.

  • Are registered nurses and midwives required to report suspected child abuse and neglect?

    Yes, in Victoria (as in all states and territories), nurses, midwives, medical practitioners, teachers and police have mandatory reporting obligations under the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 to report suspected cases of child abuse and neglect.

    In Victoria, nurses must report such cases to Child Protection or the Child FIRST intake serviceExternal Link .

    For more information or guidance, see the Australian Institute of Family Studies website.

Reviewed 30 November 2021


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