ER Nursing in Australia HELP!


I really need someone to help me here.

My wife is a fantastic ER nurse, and she loves being an ER Nurse.

If she were to die today, she would be on her headstone.

But there is a problem. She is married to an Australian (me!)

For a long, long, long time we looked at moving back to Australia from the US and everything fine to do so and we were both happy to. Mainly so we could start a family here. We have spent some time in both of each other's countries to know that we both prefer Australia for the people and lifestyle.

However she has put the brakes on this as she had read somewhere that Australian Nursing is like America in the 1950's. On her last visit here she spoke to "some guy" who's wife was an ER Nurse and because of the conditions she ended up being a sales rep.

Now I am an IT guy, I the only think I know about medicine is from what I have seen watching B grade horror movies. To me this doesn't feel right, I would love to try to work this out, but I am none the wiser.

Now she has not worked in Australia, but she was worked in the US for 4 years.

She has her 4 year degree, she finished from a Top University, Top of her Class and Class President.

She is chairman of the nurses board at her hospital, and she is certified like mad (she does a new course every 2 weeks it feels like) but out of the mass of acronyms I remember her recently renewing her PALS, and ACLS courses.

She also volunteers for on the ambulance as well as the helicopters in the US. So she is basically a diehard-ER-Nurse. And I love her so much for it.

But she has it somehow gotten into it, that if we came back to Australia, that she will have to basically, "wipe butt" and will not be allow to do even anything remotely like her old job. And it will be 1950's get-me-a-coffee-woman kind of job. Now I don't know any nurses in Australia. I have never seen anything that would indicate this at all. But I can't find anything that shows what nursing in Australia Vs USA

I am trying to figure this out and I am hoping that a US nurse that has worked in the US in the ER and is now living in Aust could assist on what the experience is like.

I am hearing things like:

Australian nurses don't use stethoscopes

Australian nurses don't give IV's

And to me it just doesn't feel right. I have been trying to contact some groups on the phone with little success, and looking on line and search a lot through these forums these last few days, I see a lot of people asking what are the differences are, and yet it all somehow comes back to money and lifestyle.

I am just trying to see what someone who has worked in the US as a 4 year nurse, who made the move to Australia and what are the differences. I know there is a difference with the med names but that's all I know.

This is my last chance to try to see if I can make it back home. And she has it in her mind so she has stopped looking to work in Australia.

Please, anyone, a little help here?

allnurses Guide

ghillbert, MSN, NP

3,796 Posts

Specializes in CTICU. Has 27 years experience.

Sounds like a crock to me. I can't imagine why someone would make life decisions like immigration based on something she read "somewhere"....!! Why isn't your wife on here asking the questions?

I have worked in the ICU in both countries, and had close contact with the ER in both places (it's the ED in Australia by the way). There's no doubt the educational system is more advanced in the US with regard to masters-prepared nurses, APNs etc. BUT the ED is one places where nurses have a lot of autonomy, particular if they work at a large tertiary referral centre, such as The Alfred, Royal Melbourne etc in Melbourne.

Nurses most certainly put in IVs, and I am trained in critical care in Australia - we don't have CCRN certification but we actually do a 1 year postgraduate diploma instead, so arguably more preparation. We do have ACLS, etc certification annually.

Nursing in Australia (or anywhere) is different to the US, because it's a different country. If your wife is not prepared to move to your country because the work may be different, it doesn't auger well for her willingness to accept the changes which go along with intercontinental relationships.


5 Posts

Thank you so much for the information.

Is there any key differences in the day to day life?

e.g actions?

I know some hospitals have differences in the US based on the kinds of equipment / money they have.

But for example.

Is there some sort of procedure that a US ER Nurse can do as a part of her everyday job that a Aust ED Nurse can not do?

allnurses Guide

ghillbert, MSN, NP

3,796 Posts

Specializes in CTICU. Has 27 years experience.

I'm sure there are some differences, but I don't work ED so I can't specify what.

Maybe your wife could ask if she can go and shadow someone next time you take a trip to Aus?


1 Article; 3,037 Posts

Specializes in Medical.

Maybe we could get some more specific information if your wife posted questions about the things that concern her - specific procedures she thinks she may not be able to do here, for example.


1,787 Posts

Has 25 years experience.

wavey: I think there is more to this than wanting to believe that, Aussie nurses are back in the 1950's without stethoscopes.......dammit better go chuck that stethoscope, you know the things the Docs use....

Specializes in Med/Surg, DSU, Ortho, Onc, Psych.

You can't fool me!

I have been working in pscyh lately, and your wife is trying to use all these excuses not to come back to Australia.

I suggest you have a long, hard talk with her as what she is telling you is either:

a) lies

b) or she is plain scared to move

and doesn't want to tell you.

Sit down and really hammer out all your problems. If she is a great ER/ED nurse, she would not worry about silly details like not using stethoscopes.

I have known students who worked in the ED for 6 weeks (and had LOADS of responsibility), and I did one of my first shifts in ED and loved it. I had to do many, many duties that night, ie: blood transfusions, S8 drugs, wound dressings, dealing with psych patients, dealing with and soothing crying people with blood pouring out everywhere and helping distraught families, auscultating patients with a stethoscope, bladder scans, reviewing patients with doctors, etc and that was not considered a busy shift! The tasks are endless and she could do them hands down by the sounds of it.

Have a talk just you and your wife and find out what the real problem/s is/are.