The healthcare sector in Australia contributes up to 14 percent of the total workforce. That makes it the biggest employer for Australia, and in this massive workforce, international students play a vital role. The healthcare industry encompasses a diverse range of sectors, with international students working in various roles from PCA (personal care assistant) to RN (registered nurse) and more.
Is there a demand for international students in the healthcare sector?
The answer is yes! The pandemic has put pressure on healthcare systems all around the world, leading to an increase in demand for employment in the sector. If you have the desire to help others improve and manage their health, it might be a suitable career option for you.
Which healthcare fields can you work in?
Public Health: A career in public health is based on improving and protecting the health of the community. Jobs in this field include epidemiologist, public health researcher, and public health project officer.
Allied Health: The allied health sector involves delivering healthcare services besides medicine and nursing. Jobs in this field include physiotherapist, psychologist, and speech pathologist.
Health Support Worker: Australia’s population is ageing, creating an abundant need for aged care support workers. Other health support jobs include disability support workers, individual support workers, and mental health support workers.
Nursing: There are various types of nursing jobs, including RN (registered nurse), EN (enrolled nurse), AIN (assistants in nursing) midwives, and mental health nurses.
Medicine: There are also a lot of medical opportunities you can explore from. Jobs within this field include cardiologist, dentist, surgeon, dermatologist, emergency medicine and more.
My experience as an international student in healthcare
I started working in healthcare as a PCA (personal care assistant) in aged care. Being a nursing student, I was able to bring my learning into my work. After finishing my first placements, I started working with an agency and picked up shifts that suited my time and schedule. This not only allowed me to focus on my studies but gave me the freedom to work accordingly. As a PCA, I help residents living in aged care with their activities of daily living (eating, showering, walking, etc.). If you’re a student in healthcare, you know how beneficial it is to work and learn at the same time. The working hours vary depending on the requirement.
Working in healthcare is undoubtedly very rewarding, but it is very tiring as well. Not enough people talk about the stress and hard work of the long hours, and especially if you have your studies going on, it can be stressful to manage. But an organised plan can help you manage your time. It’s also vital to take time out for yourself and reward yourself!
COVID-19 brought many changes to healthcare, like every other sector, as well. The government has temporarily lifted the usual 40 hours per fortnight restrictions for international student workers in many healthcare fields. Although lifting these restrictions has helped to increase the number of healthcare workers, many students studying full-time have found it hard to manage their time between work and studies. So while some have taken advantage of the opportunity, others still follow their original routines.
A lot of students were hesitant to work on exposure sites as well. As a nursing student myself, I avoided going on exposure sites as I didn’t want to put my clinical placements in jeopardy. Like me, a lot of international students prioritised study over work. This did impact working hours and the ability to find work.
Fortunately, the situation is a lot better now. With more awareness, a lot of international students (mostly those already studying a healthcare course) are looking for work in the field. It not only gives you flexibility but allows you to balance your work and studies.
You may wish to take this quiz by the University of Sydney to discover health careers that match your personality type.
You can also view your working rights as an international student in Melbourne. Don’t forget to be mindful of your visa details and conditions, as well as the current temporary lift of usual work hour restrictions for some international students due to COVID-19.