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Interview with an American Nurse

Blog - Theatre Nurse Interview - NSW

HCA caught up with Anna, a Nurse from the USA at the local coffee shop in Sydney to talk about Anna’s experience working with HCA as an Agency Nurse. Anna talks about her inspiration to come to the land down under, what the process of moving to Australia entailed and how she has found the lifestyle and working environment in another country.

HCA: Where are you from and what is your Nursing specialty?

Anna: I’m from the United States of America (USA) and I’m a High Acuity Care and Progressive Care Certified Nurse.

HCA: What inspired you to come to Australia?

Anna: I did some travel nursing across the US in Delaware, Oregon, Florida, Virginia, Arizona and North Carolina and I enjoyed the learning experience and flexibility that came with agency nursing. This is when I started getting the travel bug and considered nursing in another country.

I knew that Australia has beautiful nature and landscapes, some cute animals like koalas and Kangaroos and of course, is an English-speaking country, so I thought it would be an easy transition. I did some googling (as you do) and HCA popped up towards the top of the list and had some excellent reviews.

HCA: How did you find the process of moving countries to Nurse in Australia? Did HCA assist your preparation for Australia?

Anna: I decided to leave my comfortable nursing job to travel to Australia. I worked with my job at home to allow this experience.

I was put in contact with Erin from the New Zealand (NZ) Team and she helped me organise my AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency) registration. Every one’s application will be unique, so it was great to have someone take me through it and help me answer questions that were relevant to me.

The hardest part of moving to a new country and starting a new job is trying to figure out where to start. Erin helped me prioritise the tasks from most important to least important, such as:

-Applying for AHPRA. Good to start on this early as it might take a while to be accepted.

-Applying for a Visa. Erin was able to guide me with various visa options to I could make the best possible decision for my time in Australia.

-Vaccinations and local checks and compliance, again Erin was able to guide me with what I needed to sort before I left home and what is best to organise in Australia.

A-ccommodation and travel – The HCA team gave me suggestions on where to stay based on the demand of shifts for the time of the year, which was super helpful, but I was responsible for finding my own accommodations.

The support and guidance from HCA let me know there was always a place I could call to get answers. I knew I was going to be able to start working in Australia and earn some real money to explore the country.

HCA: How have you found working with HCA as an Agency Nurse in Australia?

The nursing aspect isn’t too different in terms of the patients we treat in a full-time or agency capacity back at home. Nursing in Australia is a lot more patient-oriented and less of a pressure pot environment. In the US, we spent a lot of time documenting the things we had done in the shift, whereas in Australia we spend more time with the patient. Some online systems have been easy to use, especially the Care Pathways System at the Sydney Adventist  Hospital, so it didn’t take long to learn for nurses who are used to computers.  Paper charting takes some time because most hospitals in the US are computer.

There were differences in policy and procedures between the Australian ad American nursing system, but I found the staff on the ward were always happy to guide me with the process and answer questions most of the time. The ALS and CPR courses I did in the states are also a little different to what you learn in Australia, so it’s good to do a refresher course.

Agency nursing in America has a different definition which is important to understand. Agency nursing in the USA is when you get allocated shifts for a blocked period e.g. 3 months, like block bookings in Australia.

Agency nursing in Australia is when you are assigned shifts based on your preferences and availability  I could control my schedule availability for the week but did not know if or when I would work till the week or the day of.  However, it did allow me the flexibility to travel and take time off when I needed it to explore Australia. 

Working in an agency environment means you are not always guaranteed shifts. Sometimes shifts do get cancelled by the hospital or you will be called to a shift the morning of.

Below are some pointers to try and get as many shifts as possible:

-Updating your availability regularly on the eHCA app

-Being available in a wider radius

-Keeping your phone on

-Listening to and getting back to voicemails

-Getting to know the hospital staff and environment as best as you can, as you’ll more likely be called back for a shift.

If you follow these tips, you’ll be able to enjoy what Australia has to offer, earn good money, get experience at various hospitals across Australia, and of course, meet new friends!

HCA: How have you found adjusting to Nursing in Australia? Is it like what you were doing before?

Yes, I have adjusted easily. It is like what I was doing before, but there are differences. In some facilities in Australia, patients can bring in their own medicine, whereas in America it all must be from the doctor or nurse at the hospital, so I had to get used to that change.  Medication administration I found to be the hardest because of different names and nursing preparation techniques like mixing our own Intravenous bags.

The rate of pay is higher as an agency nurse in Australia compared to Australian staff nursing, which is great but as said before you are not guaranteed a shift every day, so it’s important to monitor your expenses.

I prepared by coming over with some funds already saved until paychecks began.  I’ve started writing a list of my expense’s vs income in my diary to help me manage my budget. I was able to explore and visit many parts of Australia as I started working and saving. I’ve had an incredible time so far and can’t wait to see what else is in store for me.

HCA: What are the upfront costs that no one tells you about when moving to another country as a nurse?

All up the cost of my working holiday was a big investment and you need to save and plan to be ready. There are lots of costs to consider, some of them being:

-AHPRA registration

-Visa (for over 35 years of age ) – I can stay in Australia for 3 -6 months at a time on this Visa. There is also a Working Holiday Visa.

-Medical for Visa

-Working with Women’s and Children License (needed individually for each territory)

-Compliance checks and vaccinations

-Transcripts and Criminal Record Check

-Accommodation

Free Flight* to Australia (which you can claim from HCA if you work enough hours)

*T&CS Apply

HCA: How has working with HCA helped you travel during your time in Australia?

I first decided to come down under I wanted to go everywhere.  I visited Melbourne, North Queensland and Sydney. In Sydney, I got to see the light show Vivid, which happens once a year in June. I went on some day trips to regional towns outside of Sydney and enjoyed the beauty of Australia’s nature and wildlife including days to travel to the Great Barrier Reef and scuba dive on a liveaboard.

It’s a good chance to take time off to explore a new country, culture and meet new people. I would recommend nursing in Australia. It’s a great adventure and once in a lifetime experience.

If you would like to find out more about nursing in Australia, enquire online.