Sunday, March 2, 2014

How to be an Australian registered nurse-- the FAST way (personal experience)

How it all started...
Unlike most people, I didn't take nursing to go abroad. It was suppose to be my pre-medicine course. As you've guessed, I didn't pursue the latter due to conflict of interest. I wanted to travel and medicine wouldn't let me until I was old and grey. (LOL)


So after 4 years of getting my nurse license, I opted to go aboard to work instead. I've considered US, Canada, UK and Aus. I called up my friends living overseas and asked them how they're fairing. Those in the US were pretty stressed and the UK ones said it's difficult to save up there since the cost of living is almost equal to your pay cheque. That leaves me with Canada and Australia (New Zealand is pretty far from home and isolated so I skipped out on that one). I chose Australia instead as it's nearer to home and plane tickets are cheap. PLUS... Australia ranked as on of the best places to settle down/ migrate in the recent 2012 and 2013 surveys.


Which leads me here.... Processing my papers and stuff. I started thinking about of working abroad around June 2013 and got serious early August 2013. The only way to work in Australia (and New Zealand) is to take their bridging course. The bridging course (A.K.A ARNTP or IRON programs) is a 2.5-4.5 month course that orients you to Australian nurse policies and laws. From the word itself, it Bridges the gap between practices in your country and theirs.




The whole process looks like this....


You (Philippine RN)---> Australia's Bridging program--->You (registered/qualified Aus RN)
and this takes only a few months instead of several years :)


What you'll need:
  1. IELTS (no score below 7 out of 9) and must not be expired.
  2. Min. 2 years nurse work experience-- recent (hospital experience preferred for this blog)
  3. Money (prepare approx. 1 million pesos). Don't worry, ave. wage for RN there is 200k/mo
  4. Passport (make sure it's not expired)
  5. All necessary paper works (NBI, NSO, PRC etc)
The Process begins:
  • IELTS:
First order of business-- IELTS or the International English Language Testing System. For Australia, you're required to take the Academic IELTS and score no lower than a 7 on all exams (perfect is 9). I took the exam late September 2013 and managed to pass on all score (Yey me!). Remember, the IELTS has an validity period of 2 years. Make sure yours is not expired or at least have a 6 month allowance for processing time. If you get your IELTS, process your papers right away.
*Read my article about My IELTS experience. Tips and insights included :)
  • Do it solo or by Agency?
Once I got past the IELTS, I had 2 options... get an agency or do it myself. One thing you should know about me is that I'm too scared to do stuff on my own. If I process it by myself, there's a good chance I'll be going to Australia on my own since I have to find my university on my own.
Lucky for me, I bumped into a friend who's planning to study in Australia too AND she knows an agency that knows a fast track course... FWES or Friendly World Education Services ( Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/robert.morris.589583?fref=ts)  has brought many nurses like me abroad (I know a couple of these people). They're not a recruitment agency, they're an agency that helps you get in one of the top university in Australia-- UniSA or University of South Australia.


You're probably asking me... WHY BOTHER with an agency? here's the deal... If you do the whole process manually/ solo, you will need to go to APHRA (PRC equivalent in Aus). The whole process takes about 4-6 months then you'll start to look for a university, this takes about 2 months.. The manual process takes around 6- 8 months sometimes more if you don't know what you're doing.


Personally, I would recommend FWES because they scan and check your documents for you before you process them and they also prod you to fix your papers regularly so you won't laze around. The BEST reason to trust them is that they let you in to UniSA (University of South Australia) super fast due to them being recognised agents. UniSA, being a top university, allows you to take their bridging course even if you don't have your APHRA papers yet. Of course, you still need the APHRA certificate but you won't have to wait for it in the Philippines. This saves you 6-8 months already. You can start your course WHILE your APHRA is being processed. UniSA will only take in students they know will pass the APHRA requirements. In short, UniSA will pre-approve you. If they know you'll pass APHRA requirements, they'll let you start.

FWES charges around Php 25,000 for evaluation and document assistance as well as VISA application. You'll only need to pay p5,000 first then the rest (php 20,000) is payable when you get your visa. They also have an optional package. For an additional p25,000 , they can help you find your student lodging and get you a part time work in an aged care facility while you're studying (you can probably earn 200 AUD/week). Not bad; It can help you pay your rent. Again, this is optional. I'm thinking of availing it now :)

  • Paper works for UniSA:
Since I've signed up for <The agency> (and studying in UniSA), I have to submit supporting documents to UniSA. These are documents you should submit to APHRA (as mentioned, they pre-screen you if you'll pass APHRA).
  1. Certificate of Employment (CoE)
    • Should have hospital letter head
    • indicate year started and if full-time or part time
    • how many hours per week ave (40hrs/week for full time)
    • what department
    • > you can request this from the HR department. They usually know what to do :)
  2. College Diploma
  3. CV (resume only very detailed)
    • Personal Information: name, gender, birth date, marital status, nationality, religion
    • Qualifications Obtained: elementary- college, passed PRC, passed IELTS
    • qualifying examinations: IELTS, NLE etc
    • clinical/ procedural skills: certificates eg BLS etc. not really needed
    • work history: must coincide with CoE
    • Duties and responsibilities: Job description (should come with your CoE)
    • seminars/ trainings attended:
    • registration history (PRC)
    • reference: 2-4 is good. include position/institution/city/ contact no.
  4. Passport: front page copy
  5. RN Rating: request from PRC
  6. RN certificate: Request from PRC
**I sent this to FWES for reviewing. Once my documents cleared, they submitted it to UniSA. UniSA's reply to me took about 1 month and 1 week. They sent me a Offer of Admission.


  • Enrolling for the class:
The whole fee is around 15,950 AUD I think plus mandatory student insurance of around 350 AUD. I paid approx. 16,300 AUD for it. You can pay via telegraphic transfer or credit card. We opted to pay via TT instead. My friend paid through Banco De Oro. BDO doesn't transfer via AUD currency so they had to covert Php to USD. I don't recommend you try BDO though because the value fluctuates daily. She ended up paying extra since the conversion fell short of the tuition fee. I recommend you try Bank of the Philippine Islands. They convert your Php to AUD so the university gets the exact amount due. Do note that banks charge additional p600-1500 (I forgot how much exactly) for service fee and legal documentation. The whole process takes about an hour. Don't forget to bring your Letter of Offer as the payment details are printed on it.


Once you have the deposit slip and other sheets of paper, scan and send the copy to UniSA (address is attached to their Letter of Offer). They'll reply in 3-4 days with your Confirmation of Enrollment.


  • VISA
If you check their website, www.immi.gov.au , they have a number of visa for every applicant. It can get overwhelming and confusing. FWES recommended that I apply for the Streamlined (fastest visa) student non award 575. Unlike other visas that take 2-3 months processing, this one takes only 2 weeks to process. You just need any of the following...
  1. NSO live birth
  2. NBI/ police clearance
  3. Certificate of employment
  4. passport
  5. ID with photo
  6. Diploma
  7. *Most Important.... Confirmation of Enrollment.
>>> NO SHOW MONEY needed :)
I applied online. It's faster that way. all you need is to register to their account and type in your Confirmation of Enrollement code. I had a slight problem with this because the site didn't recognize my code. Turns out, the site won't work on Mac. I opened it on Windows and it worked (Yipee!). Submitting the requirements takes an hour. The site's really easy to navigate.


Student Visa 575 costs around p23,100. Don't forget to ATTACH supporting documents on the last page of the site and ARRANGE your medical checkup.
  • Medical Checkup
The medical's pretty easy to arrange. There are several clinics certified by Australia immigration. They have one in Salcedo Makati, Cebu and Davao. If Cebu and Davao clinics are booked, you can fly to Manila. The only people there are the staff. Just call them in advance.


For the medical checkup, you'll need the following:
  1. 4pcs passport size photos
  2. 2pcs carbon copies of your passport (front page)
  3. p5,650 to cover the medical test (chest x-ray, blood extraction, urine test and visual acuity).
It's a good idea to bring extra cash. my friend and I were asked to pay extra for a crea test. They said it's SOP if they found anything in the urine.


**Results of the tests are directly forwarded to the embassy. This means, you can't get a copy of the results no matter how much you badger the staff (yes, I saw someone do this while I had my test.)



  • UPDATED! 
I got my visa super fast! just over a week! So I'm here in Australia now. I came here March 22 which is autumn season. It's cold and I love it! Everything's so neat and clean... and the people are really nice and friendly (no bad encounters/ racial discrimination at all!). We got set up in Modbury which is around 20 mins away from the city. This might sound far but it's really not since the bus stop is right in front of the building and it drops you off almost at the front of UniSA. There's no traffic which is such a relief.


  • UniSA
UniSA is a beautiful school. I have nothing bad to say about it. I've studied in one of the best universities in the Philippines but nothing even compares. And there are a number of Asians too so you'll feel just at home (hehe :) )

It's been really busy lately. We've started school on April 1. School's challenging but very rewarding and informative. At first, i wasn't expecting to actually work hard at it but UniSA expects a lot from their students. Just come here already! it's really nice :)

I'll try to update this blog when I have the time. it's so difficult to write and do the chores and study at the same time. :)
















46 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. forevercharming929March 8, 2014 at 12:28 PM

    Hi! Wow it's good to see your blog. Same as you, I also took Nursing before as a Pre-Med course but didn't pursue it as well. I worked as an RN for four years and seriously thought of applying abroad just last August 2013. Right now we're almost on the same path too coz I'm also applying at UniSA though I don't have my AHPRA eligibility yet. Sayang nga lang I didn't make it to this March intake coz I just found about the opportunity recently thru the agency that processes my papers but hopefully for the next intake this year I'll get in there :) I took my IELTS a month after you last October. Amazing how you got everything almost fast tracked. Btw how long did it take for you to receive your AHPRA approval?

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    1. Hi Cham :) I just got my visa a couple of days ago and will be leaving for Aus this Mar22 (Orientation starts this Mar25).
      Here's the thing, if you go for the agency na try ko, you can lodge your AHPRA in Australia instead of here in the Phils. It will save you like 200aud in offshore processing AND will save you 4-6mos waiting time for ahpra eligibility. Basically, wala pa akong ahpra now. I'll process it the same time mg study ako (sinabay na aral and eligibility). On normal cases,di papayag si unisa sa usual applicants pero certified agents na kasi nila yung agency namin so my special treatment sila. I submitted all my docs (w/o Ahpra eligibility) last dec10 lang and got my UniSA Unconditional offer letter last Jan 15. Visa is pretty fast, mine took only a week to get it! yung kasama ko na nauna ng apply for visa got approved in 2 weeks :)

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    2. Oh, and mg ask lang :)
      bakit mo pala gusto mg unisa? for me kasi, I chose the Uni kasi mejo mabilis sa agency naming. Pero since you're doing it the manual way (waiting for ahpra eligibility), why not choose a diff school? UniSA's a bit pricey (13k AUD others vs 16K AUD unisa) and lengthy (2.5 mos others vs 4.5 mos unisa) kasi compared sa iba. 2 of my friends tried the IRON program ng IHNA (?) and back then it was around 11,5k- 12k AUD lang ata. :)

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    3. forevercharming929March 11, 2014 at 11:20 PM

      Ah really, that's nice may visa ka na pala.. I prefer UniSa eh even if it's more expensive hehe. The agency that processes my application is naka tie-up rin sakanila so definitely easy to apply also even without my ahpra yet :) Did you work as an RN? Curious lang ako if strict sila when it comes sa employment cert. that says should be within 6 months? Coz mine was issued medyo matagal na.. hmm

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  3. Yup. Worked as an ER nurse for almost 3 years. My friend tried to apply for UniSA bridging na wala pang Ahpra (same as me) pero di xa inapprove sa prescreening ng UniSA kasi hindi hospital experience nya. She has to go through ahpra daw tlga for that (usual method). UniSA can only pre-approve super sure candidates like those with hospital exp and walang sabit (part daw yung sa guidelines set by ahpra for UniSA). Your past work should be recent (no longer than 1 year from last day of work) :) ayaw nila ng 1+ year na no work practice. :)

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    1. hi, i was researching about nursing in Australia when I encountered your blog. i just want to ask if the 1 year working gap applies only to your school? or ayaw talaga ng aphra? i have five years experience in a big hospital here in the Philippines, but i stopped for more than one year and six months now as i needed to take care of a family member. Now that i can work again, i wanted to apply straight to Australia but i was wondering if the fact that i am not currently working will affect my application. thanks!

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  4. Ive been doing ext research about this and luckilly i found your blog. ..interested din po ako sa patake ng arntp ng unisa. What po yung agency nyo.? Gusto ko din maginquire skanila. Thank you

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    1. Hey sherwyn,
      Message FWES, here's their FB page https://www.facebook.com/robert.morris.589583?fref=ts
      feel free to message kung kamusta na :)

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    3. Thank you,,.. how are you there? by the way are you allowed to work part time while on ARNTP ?
      Thanks.

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  5. Hi may i know what agency please? Are they strict on 2 years experience? Coz im working as an RN right now for 8 months pa lang

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    1. Hey sherry,
      Message FWES, here's their FB page https://www.facebook.com/robert.morris.589583?fref=ts
      They have several courses for you to try. Ok sila, mabait and they're really there to help. Hindi pera2x lang. :)

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    2. Thank youuuu... Is there a licensure exam pa being conducted by AHPRA?

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  6. hello, been wanted to be in australia for a long time. Been considering din Unisa aksi prng mabilis lng makapunta dun..hehe..ask ku lan ku madami p bng work for nurses sa australia..BTW, i do have only 1 1/2 hosp exp at 1 yr RHU..hnd kya ako mahihirapan makahanap ng work jan..salamat:)

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  7. Hello po Ma'am.

    How's your experience there in Adelaide so far? I'm also planning to take the ARNTP of UniSA by next year (2015). Are there job opportunities for RN's there? That's my biggest concern po, if ever we finish the program, is there a good chance for us to land a nursing job? Oh, and you can already register at AHPRA while you're at the program right? You don't need to finish the training before doing so? I'm looking forward to your updates. This has been very helpful. Thanks a lot.

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  9. Hi. Your blog here js very informative and really promising that it seems your journey to getting to Oz was a breeze, easy and hassle-free. Wondering how the bridging program worked for you? Were you able to finish and get your AURN license? Your response will be really appreciated! Thanks!

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  10. Hi while im doing research for fwes agency background i accidentally found your blog. I wanted to asked how' s your experience there in aistralia and if fwes really help you during your stay there?
    Thank you i hope you can reply on my inquiries..

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  11. Hi! I have a question Im really new to all of this really, so I dont know much hihi :p

    Im a fresh grad and Im interested in studying and working in australia, i have no experience yet though... Does that mean I cant try for IRON (3mos)?

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Just send your email address to ihmaustralia@gmail.com so that i can have my team call you to give you all the details about the IRON course in australia.

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  12. hi. would you recommend fwes to filipino nurses wishing to do a bridging course in australia? thank you

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    Replies
    1. Hi there,
      I can help you with that. please send you mail id to ihmaustralia@gmail.com so that my admissions team can contact you and give you all the details you need.

      Delete
  13. Hello po.. I send inquiry napo sa FWES.. Hope mag reply... Thank you po..

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  14. hi, i was researching about nursing in Australia when I encountered your blog. i just want to ask if the 1 year working gap applies only to your school? or ayaw talaga ng aphra? i have five years experience in a big hospital here in the Philippines, but i stopped for more than one year and six months now as i needed to take care of a family member. Now that i can work again, i wanted to apply straight to Australia but i was wondering if the fact that i am not currently working will affect my application. thanks!

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  15. Thank you for sharing. You have broadened my knowledge. Keep up the good work!

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  16. Is there an agency na sila ung sasagot ng pag aaral mo sa Australia? Or is it a must na ikaw talaga ang sasagot sa bridging mo? Thank you!

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    1. Ikaw tlga mg pay eh. It's usually around und 12-14k AUD. Pero Ma bawi mo naman in 1year(2yrs if mejo you want to enjoy and spend or you're sending money to family). There are agencies na fly now, pay later pero I would advise against it if possible kasi parang loan shark ang interest. Dami king kilala na iyang 1M, nag ballooning 1.8M in 1yr. Utang nlng sa family or what.

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    2. Aww. Marami nga po akong naririnig na ganyan sa fly now, pay later. But ask lang po, if it is enough the salary ng nurses po sa Oz vs sa cost of living? ��

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  17. Hi, i wanted to work to australia but dont know where to start and what documents to prepare and who or which agency to go to.. i am planning to take ielts first but after that.. what else im going yo prepare? I tried contacting fwes but to no avail :(

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    Replies
    1. Hi,
      Just do the IELTS first at Baka Ma overwhelm ka. If you're really set to be an Australian RN and if you have trouble with IELTS, I suggest you go for OET or occupational English test. It's 3x more expensive than IELTS but HEAPS easier. just thought to let you know :)

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  18. Hi
    Me and my wife just passed the oet exam recently and we are contemplating between Oz and Nz. We are also thinking if we will do the bridging exam together kasi nga mahal.. can u give us some advice? Plan namin sana makuha 2kids namin sa pinas. Currently we are workinghere at ksa.

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    Replies
    1. Hi. Actually, pwde 1 muna mg RN (whoever is more qualified for permanent residency). You can include your kids on the application too para PR din sila. If they're underaged, u can get assistance (housing and allowance) from the govt kasi PR. Also, PR tuition sa bridging program is cheaper for PR compared sa nag student visa ka(12k AUD Average sa student, 6k? Sa PR). Parang half price ata from what I've heard. Research mo nlng din. :)

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  19. Hi. Im 24yrs old and in Philippines. Im planning to change career and be a Nurse in Australia or New Zealand. My first question is, does ahpra or UniSa required having a 4yrs course of Nursing? should there be a chance to pass their requirement if i will undergo to a short courses for nursing? thank you

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  20. I would like to ask what happened next to your AU journey throughout completing your IRON upto registration as AURN. Give us more information toward this peculiar process of being international RN in OZ. Thank you so much for making a way in enlightening us this with initial path to being AU student. I hope to read the interesting story of yours soon!

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  21. Hi Happy Pinay ! I am Australian. My wife is a Filipina. We are now living in SA and my wife has got her bridging visa for permanent residence. She is a trained and qualified nurse and worked for 13 years at the Chinese General hospital in Manila and was the charge sister of the pediatrics ward before coming here with me last July.

    So far she has not done the IELTS exam as she wanted to improve her spoken English. But she is getting restless and wants to work again as a nurse.

    So what do you suggest ? Do the IELTS now or wait some more ? And does the nurse bridging course at Uni SA cost really cost a lot less if she has bridging visa to permanent residence ?

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    Replies
    1. Hello. I would like to comment/suggest in regard to english test. I recommend OET instead of IELTS. OET is more inclined with our profession, hence, easy to tackle the test especially with your wife's extensive hospital experience.😊

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  22. Hello! Thank you for sharing! I would like to ask after finishing your bridging course, is it easy to find a hospital or rehabilitation center to work with? Thank you

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    1. Hi khay,
      It depends on your experience. Theatre/OR experience are pretty in demand. Out of 40 foreign nurses in our class, average time to find a sponsor(work visa) takes 3-6mos. I got mine while I was still doing my student placement. You can work as an agency nurse while you wait to have your permanent resident visa processed (6mos ave). There are plenty of shifts for casual agency nurses. They pay well too.

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    2. Wow! Good to hear! Your blog is very helpful! Btw, Thank you for your response. Will surely update you, once im already working there ☺️☺️

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  23. I like your blog a lot. Its informative and full of information. Thank you for sharing.

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  24. Hi ma'am. I just want to ask regarding the 2 years experience required for the program. Is volunteerism considered or does it have to be paid experience? Hoping for your response. Thank you!

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  25. Hi is it still a minimum of 2years experience? Im on my 8month and plan to resign after 1 year so i can try to apply for the bridging program. Hope to hear from you. Thank you.

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  26. Hi happypinay!�� Im just wondering if its okay to have gaps in between two employment? For example, worked for two years then became unemployed for 3 months then went back to work? Thabk you very much��

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  27. hello!!! ☺️☺️ thanks for sharing valuable info.,, btw, I just want to ask if what are my chances in AUS given the fact that my previous experience were mainly dental related; been working for almost 4 yrs as a dental nurse at KSA. I was able to consult an agency and they suggested that i should take certificate IV in Ageing support for 1 yr to be followed by Diploma of leadership and management course for another 1yr. I'm hoping to get some ideas or suggestions from you regarding my situation ☺️����✌️.

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