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Nursing 10 min read

How to become a nurse practitioner

The educational requirements and endorsement process to become a nurse practitioner in Australia.



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Registered nurses with considerable experience in a specialised area of practice may be ready to take the next step in their careers. For some, this next step involves becoming a nurse practitioner.

Nurse practitioners are not only essential in our healthcare system but are also in demand across Australia, making this role an attractive option for those seeking career development.

So, what are the study paths available for this specialisation? And what requirements must be met in order to qualify? In this guide, we explore how to become a nurse practitioner and explain why the online learning environment is especially beneficial for this qualification.

The demand for nurse practitioners

A nurse practitioner plays a crucial role in the Australian healthcare system. As experienced clinical nurses, their responsibilities centre around providing quality patient-focused care.

Nurse practitioners in Australia

There are only around 2,425 endorsed nurse practitioners in Australia. These highly qualified professionals possess in-demand skills that our healthcare system needs.

Registered nurses ready to progress their careers and focus on a specialty might wonder how to become a nurse practitioner in Australia. Although this is a well-regarded role, becoming a nurse practitioner involves fulfilling several components.

How to become a nurse practitioner

Due to national registration standards, there are rigorous educational requirements and endorsements that a registered nurse has to meet in order to advance their career as a nurse practitioner. The process of becoming a nurse practitioner includes:

  1. Having current registration as a Division 1 Registered Nurse in Australia with no restrictions or conditions on your registration relating to professional practice.
  2. Demonstrating that you have the relevant experience of at least 5,000 hours (the equivalent of three years of full-time experience) at an advanced clinical practice level in the past six years to be eligible to study.
  3. Completing a Nursing and Midwifery Board-approved master’s program.
  4. Applying for endorsement by AHPRA. Once endorsed, you can begin working as a nurse practitioner.

Why become a nurse practitioner?

For Jessica Kumar, a child health nurse and lactation consultant at Coast Life Families, becoming a nurse practitioner was an obvious next step in her career.

“For many nurses, there is the capacity to become leaders in their areas or experts in their wards,” she says. “But often, as we rise through the ranks in nursing, management becomes more and more of your role instead.

“I found the best way to advance clinically without becoming a manager was to become a nurse practitioner.”

In this innovative and independent clinical nursing role, nurse practitioners work in speciality practice areas appropriate to their experience. These are some common settings for a nurse practitioner:

  • family health care
  • emergency and acute care
  • ageing and palliative care
  • primary health care
  • chronic and complex care

Studying options to become a nurse practitioner

The study path towards becoming an endorsed nurse practitioner typically involves a master’s degree. However, other options exist for students who don’t meet the entry requirements for a master’s.

Sometimes, a course like James Cook University’s online Graduate Certificate or Graduate Diploma in Nursing Majoring in Advanced Practice can be a stepping stone in the desired direction.

And when it comes to thinking about ongoing education for roles like a nurse practitioner or nurse educator, Jessica’s advice is to view each course with the bigger picture in mind.

“When you study online, the courses are structured so that everything you learn points you towards the assessments,” she says. “Looking at the assessments in your first week and having a big-picture view of them can help.”

The online study format also comes with specific benefits, particularly for nurses. For Jessica, flexibility, accessibility and understanding are the most obvious advantages.

“I wanted to study with a quality university in South Australia, but I live in Queensland, so studying online is obviously a huge benefit,” she says. “Also, gaining the perspective from other nurses I’m studying with has helped to widen my own.”

There’s also the advantage of making the study fit with your schedule. “Online study is a lot more flexible,” she says. “I can look at my clinical workload and personal responsibilities before I figure out what I need to study that week, so it’s a lot more manageable.”

Most nurses are dealing with busy and even chaotic schedules, so online study is a great option for those who want to become a nurse practitioner.

The next step in your nursing career

Ready to become a nurse practitioner? GlobalHealth Education partners with universities offering a range of postgraduate nursing degrees

The courses below are listed by qualification level, from lowest to highest.

Master of Nursing Majoring in Leadership & Management
Master of Nursing Majoring in Leadership & Management
With a rapidly ageing population, changes in technology, changes in management demands, and the evolution of nursing knowledge and practice, there are growing opportunities for qualified senior nurses and nurse leaders in Australia. JCU Online’s Master of Nursing gives you the qualifications and skills you need to evolve your career as fast as healthcare itself is changing. It will allow you to take on more complex roles and deliver better patient care. The Leadership and Management major gives you the confidence and knowledge to embrace management or leadership positions in healthcare, with four specialist units of study. Transform your practice and improve your clinical skillset Develop key skills to help you succeed in clinical contexts Understand the latest in healthcare informatics Designed by passionate nursing professionals Fast-track your career with 100% online study Be supported by a dedicated Student Success Advisor
Master's 24 months 12 Units
Units
  • Informatics for Health Professionals
  • Effective Clinical Governance
  • Persuasive Communication
  • Synthesising Evidence for Healthcare
  • Quantitative Research in Healthcare
  • Qualitative Research in Healthcare
  • Implementing Practice Development in Healthcare Contexts
  • Professional Portfolios for Career Advancement
  • Leading and Managing in Health
  • Ethics and Health Management
  • Business and Finance for the Health Manager
  • Conflict and Dispute Resolution in Healthcare
Master of Advanced Nursing
Master of Advanced Nursing
#1 in Australia for academic reputation in Nursing (QS World University Rankings, 2022) Top ranked for Excellence in Research in Australia for Nursing & Midwifery UTS Online’s Master of Advanced Nursing is designed for nurses who want to drive better outcomes for person-centred care in a range of health care settings. It offers four specialist pathways - Acute Care, Chronic and Complex Care, Quality and Safety, and Leadership and Management - and offers a range of electives to choose from if you elect to take a generalist pathway. This course is delivered part-time, 100% online and influenced by strong healthcare industry partners, making it one of the most contemporary and comprehensive courses of its kind.
Master's 24 months 12 Units
Units
  • Specialty Clinical Practice
  • Applied Pathophysiology in Practice
  • Evidence for Informing Practice
  • Improving Safety and Quality in Healthcare
  • Plus Electives
Master of Nursing Majoring in Advanced Practice
Master of Nursing Majoring in Advanced Practice
With a rapidly ageing population, changes in technology, changes in management demands, and the evolution of nursing knowledge and practice, there are growing opportunities for qualified senior nurses and nurse leaders in Australia. JCU Online’s Master of Nursing gives you the qualifications and skills you need to evolve your career as fast as healthcare itself is changing. It will allow you to take on more complex roles and deliver better patient care. The Advanced Practice major, with its four specialised units, gives you the skills you need to deliver advanced patient care. Transform your practice and improve your clinical skillset. Develop key skills to help you succeed in clinical contexts. Understand the latest in healthcare informatics. Designed by passionate nursing professionals. Fast-track your career with 100% online study. Be supported by a dedicated Student Success Advisor.
Master's 24 months 12 Units
Units
  • Informatics for Health Professionals
  • Effective Clinical Governance
  • Persuasive Communication
  • Synthesising Evidence for Healthcare
  • Quantitative Research in Healthcare
  • Qualitative Research in Healthcare
  • Implementing Practice Development in Healthcare Contexts
  • Professional Portfolios for Career Advancement
  • Advanced Health Assessment
  • Quality Use of Medicines in Practice
  • Applied Health Assessment and Advanced Practice
  • Diagnostic Reasoning for Advanced Practice
Master of Nursing (Chronic Disease and Ageing)
Master of Nursing (Chronic Disease and Ageing)
Award-winning study model VU's award-winning postgraduate Block Model recognises the complexity of students' lives while giving a consistent, manageable and connected online learning experience. Earn your Master of Nursing (Chronic Disease and Ageing) faster than on-campus with our unique study model. No exams or textbooks to purchase The online units have been designed with a student-centred approach that spans from the overarching learning outcomes to engaging activities and self-determined assessments. Support seven days and in the evenings Get the support you need, when you need it, during your course. VU's support network has a single focus on ensuring you are entirely supported to succeed. VU Online’s Master of Nursing, with a specialisation in Chronic Disease and Ageing, is designed for registered nurses to transform the delivery of healthcare services in Australia. Across eight core units of study – from Promoting Cultural Competence and Community Health to Nursing Informatics – and four specialised units in Chronic Disease and Ageing, students will acquire skills that are in demand for senior nurse leaders. The Chronic Disease and Ageing specialisation provides registered nurses with a fundamental knowledge base to devise innovative care interventions and models of care for residents, patients, families and carers. Graduates with a Master of Nursing (Chronic Disease and Ageing) will acquire person-centred strategies to plan, assess, implement, evaluate, support and care for older individuals living with complex comorbidities or chronic health conditions. Each course is delivered 100% online, giving students the flexibility to fit study around their busy personal and professional lives. VU Online takes a personalised 1:1 approach to online learning, which makes learning highly interactive and supported. With 25 years of experience delivering postgraduate courses in Australia, VU has equipped thousands of students from all walks of life with the knowledge and skills to successfully achieve their unique career goals including promotion, salary increase and leadership and innovation in nursing.
Master's 24 months 12 Units
Units
  • Promoting Cultural Competence and Community Health
  • Care Coordination in Practice
  • Leading Improvement and Innovation
  • Evidence and Research for Practice
  • Complex Care Coordination
  • Nursing Informatics
  • Professional Development in Practice
  • Mental Health Nursing
  • Innovation in Aged Care Practice
  • Health and Wellbeing for the Older Person
  • Research Project: Chronic Disease and Ageing
  • Plus Electives
Master of Nursing Majoring in Education
Master of Nursing Majoring in Education
With a rapidly ageing population, changes in technology, changes in management demands, and the evolution of nursing knowledge and practice, there are growing opportunities for qualified senior nurses and nurse leaders in Australia. JCU Online’s Master of Nursing gives you the qualifications and skills you need to evolve your career as fast as healthcare itself is changing. It will allow you to take on more complex roles and deliver better patient care. The Education major, with its four specialised units in healthcare education, gives you the ability to take on educational practice roles in clinical or non-clinical environments. Transform your practice and improve your clinical skillset Develop key skills to help you succeed in clinical contexts Understand the latest in healthcare informatics Designed by passionate nursing professionals Fast-track your career with 100% online study Be supported by a dedicated Student Success Advisor
Master's 24 months 12 Units
Units
  • Informatics for Health Professionals
  • Effective Clinical Governance
  • Persuasive Communication
  • Synthesising Evidence for Healthcare
  • Quantitative Research in Healthcare
  • Qualitative Research in Healthcare
  • Implementing Practice Development in Healthcare Contexts
  • Professional Portfolios for Career Advancement
  • Principles of Education for the Health Professional
  • Teaching in Practice Settings
  • Clinical Coaching
  • Contemporary Healthcare Education
Master of Nursing (Leadership)
Master of Nursing (Leadership)
Award-winning study model VU's award-winning postgraduate Block Model recognises the complexity of students' lives while giving a consistent, manageable and connected online learning experience. Earn your Master of Nursing (Leadership) faster than on-campus with our unique study model. No exams or textbooks to purchase The online units have been designed with a student-centred approach that spans from the overarching learning outcomes to engaging activities and self-determined assessments. Support 7 days and in the evenings Get the support you need, when you need it, during your course. VU's support network has a single focus on ensuring you are entirely supported to succeed. VU Online’s Master of Nursing, with a specialisation in Nursing Leadership, is designed for registered nurses to transform the delivery of healthcare services in Australia. Across eight core units of study – from Promoting Cultural Competence and Community Health to Nursing Informatics – and four specialised units in Nursing Leadership, students will acquire skills that are in demand for senior nurse leaders. The Nursing Leadership specialisation provides registered nurses with the knowledge to develop expertise in the provision of nursing leadership and a comprehensive understanding of management, including financial management. Graduates with a Master of Nursing (Leadership) will be prepared to shape the development and provision of healthcare services, specifically clinical leadership and successfully managing teams. Each course is delivered 100% online, giving students the flexibility to fit study around their busy personal and professional lives. VU Online takes a personalised 1:1 approach to online learning, which makes learning highly interactive and supported. With 25 years of experience delivering postgraduate courses in Australia, VU has equipped thousands of students from all walks of life with the knowledge and skills to successfully achieve their unique career goals including promotion, salary increase and leadership and innovation in nursing.
Master's 24 months 12 Units
Units
  • Promoting Cultural Competence and Community Health
  • Care Coordination in Practice
  • Leading Improvement and Innovation
  • Evidence and Research for Practice
  • Complex Care Coordination
  • Nursing Informatics
  • Professional Development in Practice
  • Mental Health Nursing
  • Nursing Management
  • Nursing Leadership and Management
  • Financial Management for Nurses
  • Research Project: Nursing Leadership