Registered nurse vs enrolled nurse

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

January 14, 2023

Many people ask what the difference between an enrolled nurse and a registered nurse is and some even get the two confused. As for Enrolled Nurse vs Registered Nurse? They have more similarities than you expect,

The difference between an enrolled nurse and a registered nurse

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

What is an Enrolled Nurse?

Many consider the Enrolled Nurse (EN) to be the backbone of the nursing profession. An EN is typically highly-skilled, very experienced, and performs a very wide range of duties. They will have completed a Diploma of Enrolled Nursing through TAFE or a similar training centre. In their role, ENs typically provides nursing care working under the registered nurse’s direction, delegation and supervision. What ENs do varies considerably dependent on the type of facility or healthcare organisation they are employed in, what State they are employed in, and whether they work in acute care, aged care, primary health care, community care or other types of environments. Roles also vary between the public and private sectors and vary whether they work in metropolitan, regional, rural or remote areas.

The scope of practice for Enrolled Nurses is determined by the:

a) the extent of educational preparation;
b) clinical competence of the enrolled nurse;
c) type of clinical judgement required;
d) legislation in the state or territory in which the enrolled nurse practices; and
e) facility policies and procedures.

Their duties may include some or all of the following:

  • Provide interventions, treatments and therapies from patient care plans

  • Administer oral, IV or injectable medications
  • Observe patients and measure and record temperature, pulse, blood pressure, respiration, blood sugar levels, reporting and recording any changes.

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

  • Help patients to eat and support them 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.

You can read more about Enrolled Nurse Standards of Practice here.

What is a registered nurse?

A registered nurse (RN) has more responsibilities than an EN and, they may also get involved in admin, working as a team leader or unit manager, writing nursing care plans, and more. Administration of medicine, assessment of patients and the provision of sometimes complex nursing or specialised care will all fall within an 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. Nursing is not only a highly respected and esteemed profession, but it also provides a high standard of living. However, nurses’ wages are falling within the top 20% of Australian workers.

Australian nursing education is considered cutting-edge, so once you have a qualification from an Australian university, it will be recognised worldwide.

Which is Best for You?

Your choice of nursing level will depend on your desired level of involvement in education and your career aspirations.

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. The nation’s healthcare needs require approximately 5,000 new ENs each year.

If you are already a non-licensed healthcare worker such as a PC or AIN, then becoming an EN is often the next step up.  From there, you can progress to becoming an 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 mindset that enables them to assess and care for patients in a practical way.

  • EN – has a practical and competency-based mindset 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 blurrings considerably.

Enrolled Nurse vs Registered Nurse? 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 agency fees, which can sometimes be quite steep and restrict hospitals from 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. After putting together your professional profile online, you can become 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 in the Australian nursing sector, full-time or via occasional agency work.



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