Sydney nurse angry at having to pay $ 16,400 for her health registration

The Sydney stay-at-home mum wanted to return to her old industry but was shocked when she was told she had to pay a “vast sum of money” just to get the job.

A Sydney ex-nurse is outraged after discovering that she will have to fork out $ 16,000 of her own money to return to the healthcare system despite hospitals crying out for help.

Maggie *, who did not want to use her real name in case speaking out would impact her employment opportunities, worked as a nurse in operating theaters for eight years.

The 50-year-old paused her health job once she had kids because she and her husband calculated that she would only be making an extra $ 8 a day after paying for childcare. She was only earning $ 24 per hour as a registered nurse.

As a result, she has not worked in health care for the past 10 years and during that time her registration lapsed.

Now that her two children are older and with reports that hospitals are at breaking point —2722 people in NSW are in hospital with the disease, 181 of which are in intensive care units – Maggie wanted to return to the workforce to help out with the pandemic response.

It was here that she learned she would either have to go back to university or pay $ 16,400 for a 12-week course to reacquire her registration.

“To pay that vast sum of money, it’s just not right,” the former nurse told

“A lot of nurses do not have 16 grand spare to sit down and do a refresher course. I think it’s horrific. ”

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Maggie has no issue with being retrained and in fact welcomes the idea.

“I know that I would be rusty and I would not expect to come back without any guidance,” she said.

However, she does not understand why it has to be so expensive.

The course ends up costing more than $ 1000 a week.

“When they go back to work, it’s not like nurses are high income earners. We do not make the $ 16,000 back quickly, ”Maggie pointed out.

“For a lot of retired nurses it’s about the money. At this point in time they [the government] should forgo [the fees].

“It’s mind blowing that they’re not doing it, it’s extraordinary. They’re failing to use a resource that is there.

“I want to come back, why will not you let me come back?”

She is calling on the government to waive the fees.

“I truly do feel if they said that to retired nurses [reduced or waived the re-entry fees]I think you’d get a large number of people returning, to help those nurses who are really suffering, ”she added.

Either Maggie can pay the $ 16,000 or she has to go back to university.

When she rang up the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) inquiring about how to get back to work, she was told she would have to redo her four-year university degree due to her long absence.

“I feel insulted and I feel offended that I have to redo a degree I’ve already done,” she said.

“That is the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard, we desperately need experienced nurses. That’s absolutely crazy. ”

Maggie has given up on re-entering the nursing workforce. She now works as a receptionist at a private medical practice.

In July 2010 the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia introduced the new rules for re-entering the workplace.

At first the training course was only offered at the Australian College of Nursing for $ 10,000.

The program now costs $ 16,400 and is offered at the Australian College of Nursing as well as LaTrobe University, University of Notre Dame, Central Queensland University and the University of South Australia.

The Graduate Certificate in Nursing (Bridging and Re-Entry) is accredited by the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Authority and the Australian Nursing & Midwifery Council.

“The Australian College of Nursing works closely with the Australian Government to support professional development including education and training of the nursing profession nationally,” they said in a statement to

“Education and training of nurses ensures all patients receive the highest levels of clinical care and patient safety, while ensuring nurses continue to access lifelong learning throughout all stages of their careers which supports recruitment and retention measures for the workforce.”

The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) indicated it had no plans to waive fees for returning nurses.

A spokesperson told that the nursing regulator “must balance public safety with the need to enable governments, hospitals and nurses and midwives to do what is needed to respond to Covid-19”.

“Our primary role is to protect the public.

“Nurses and / or midwives who have not practiced their profession and who wish to return to clinical practice in response to Covid-19 should refer to the NMBA.

“Nurses who cannot demonstrate that they have practiced the profession and who have not had a connection to the profession for 10 years or more are recommended to apply directly to an NMBA-approved education provider for entry to a pre-registration program.”

FEE-HELP is available and NSW Health can also give out scholarships for the programs.

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