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Enrolled Nurse and Registered Nurse. What’s the Difference?

April 30, 2019

Many people ask what the difference between an enrolled nurse and a registered nurse is and some even get the two confused.

The difference between enrolled nurse and registered nurse

The key difference between the two is the level of qualifications obtained by each:

What is an enrolled nurse?

An enrolled nurse (EN) will have completed a Diploma of Enrolled Nursing through TAFE or a similar training centre. They can only work when supervised by a registered nurse and cannot act alone.  Their duties may include some or all of the following:

  • Observe patients and measure and record temperature, pulse, blood pressure, respiration, blood sugar levels, reporting any changes.

  • Helping with showering and bathing, dressing and personal hygiene and general comfort.

  • Help patients to eat and support with rehab or exercise programmes.

  • Assist with general first aid and emergencies.

  • Encourage and educate patients to lead a healthy lifestyle.

  • Ensure that the environment is safe.

What is a registered nurse?

A registered nurse (RN) has far more responsibilities. Instead of just focusing on practical hands-on tasks, they may also get involved in admin, working as a team leader or unit manager.  Administration of medicine, assessment of patients and the provision of sometimes complex nursing or specialised care will all fall within a RN’s remit.

Because they are registered and licensed in accordance with the Nursing Act competency standards, they can take on quite heavy responsibilities, providing them with a fair amount of autonomy when it comes to decision making.

Benefits of being a registered or enrolled nurse

In Australia, being a registered or enrolled nurse can provide many benefits. It not only provides a high standard of living with nurses wages falling into the top 20% of Australian workers, but it is also highly regarded and respected profession.

In addition, Australia has also been involved in cutting edge nursing education since 1994, so once you have a qualification from an Australian university, it will be recognised worldwide.

Enrolled Nurse or Registered Nurse – Which is Best for You?

As for which level of nursing you opt for, much will depend upon how heavily you want to be involved in education and your aspirations for the future.

You also need to consider the enrolled nurse vs registered nurse salary, the latter of which will be higher.

You should also consider some valuable statistics. In 2012, the Health Workforce National projections for 2025 showed that enrolled nurses have a higher retention rate than registered nurses. Every year, in the region of 4189 ENs are needed to fulfil the nation’s health care needs.

If you are already a non-licensed health-care worker such as a PC or AIN, then becoming an EN is often the next step up.  From there, you can progress to becoming a RN.

Because working as an EN covers so many disciplines, the role can be exciting, diverse and interesting.

What’s your preference – university or vocational training?

If you enjoy academic work, then you may wish to go down the RN route.  You will need to study for 3 years to obtain your Bachelor of Nursing, whereas for an EN, the requirement is a 2-year Diploma of Nursing via the vocational sector.

In a nutshell:

  • RN – graduates with a mind-set that enables them to assess and care for patients in a practical way.

  • EN – has a practical and competency-based mind-set allowing them to get involved in complex decision making and care.

However, once you get into the healthcare environment, you may find the areas between the two blurring considerably.

Registered Nurses and Enrolled Nurses – working side by side

A lot of the time, the EN and RN will work together with the EN working under the supervision of the RN.  However, the role of the enrolled nurse means that they still have full responsibility for their own actions and are accountable for providing suitable care for the patient.  The role of the EN may vary according to the institution in which they work. For example, an EN may technically be able to administer medication via IV but if the employer does not allow this, then they must follow the scope of practice provided by the employer.

Find Nursing Jobs Online – Enrolled and Registered Nurses

Finding nursing jobs online, whether for enrolled or registered nurses in Australia, is not difficult.  You will find all the top agencies online with some having apps that you can use on your phone. For instance, Healthcare Australia (HCA) is a large agency and covers every major city pretty well as well as the more remote locations. Just be wary of some of the agency fees which can sometimes be quite steep and can restrict hospitals booking you.

Alternatively, if you prefer to cut out the agency and go directly to the client, then you should try out uPaged. uPaged is a new online platform for nurses to secure work. Once you have taken a little time to put together your professional profile online, you can be connected to some fantastic casual nursing jobs. Job descriptions will be transparent, and you will get a first-hand account of where you will be working and what you will be doing. Rates of pay are often also higher as the hospitals do not have to pay high agency fees. Find out more here.

Whether you decide to work as an EN or RN, there are many great nursing job opportunities available for you in the Australian nursing sector, full time or via occasional agency work.

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