View Full Version : From Nurse to HR- Is it feasible?

29-07-2010, 02:21 PM
I am 36 and looking for a career change out of nursing. I have been an emergency nurse for the past 11 years. I am particularly interested in HR, but want to chase some realistic advice to see if this is feasible given my age and complete lack of business experience. I have looked at Masters in HRM and could complete it in 1 to 1.5 years full time.

I am a little concerned reading some of the posts that I could complete a degree at considerable cost and loss of income, to find I may not get employed. I am currently based in Brisbane and would have to stay there due to my wife's work.

I am interested in L & D, but perhaps given my background, some OH & S, RTWC role might be better.

I would really appreciate any advice anyone could offer.



30-07-2010, 09:40 AM
In my experience, your path of least resistance would be transitioning into and HSSE/OH&S areas or RTWC as a starting point. This would give you some more commercial experience and exposure to key areas that may then give you an entry into broader HR related fields. Gaining some experience in these areas may well assist you in firming up your thoughts of whether to advance down the study path you are considering. On the L&D side, perhaps orientating yourself to health related areas may be useful. I'm certainly aware of many EN's and RN's making a success of moving into large corporates in RTW /OH&S areas but less clear on feasibility /success in generalist HR side. Others may well have ideas on this. You may also like to consider looking at RTW roles with insurers eg case mgt as opposed to working with a self-insured organisation with in -house RTW capability.


Job Media
30-07-2010, 05:06 PM

Unfortunately I feel you have good reason to be concerned and are very sensible to seek realistic advice.

We run the Jobs in HR (http://www.JobsinHR.com.au) web site and we get a lot of enquiries from people seeking job hunting advice, we also have a reasonably good view of the market nationally.

Although the market is considerably healthier than it was last year, many HR grads appear to be struggling to get their first job in HR. Also, there are some experienced HR people who were re-trenched in the last 12 months who are still looking to get back into the workforce at the right level. So while the signs are very positive, employers are still exercising their prerogative to be very choosy!

The most buoyant markets are Sydney and Melbourne, with Brisbane a distant 3rd, so that doesn't augur very well if you are not able to relocate.

Who knows where we could be in 12-18 months - the market could be stronger, but it could also be weaker. There is still much uncertainty in many of the World's major economies.

Our view is that it would likely be a very difficult transition to make at this point in time, however the idea of approaching from a different angle, like OH&S or RTW, definitely has some merit. OH&S is also a bit more recession proof than HR.

I would also suggest seeking some advice from one or two of the specialist HR recruitment companies in your area and maybe some of the OH&S recruitment specialists.

30-07-2010, 08:35 PM
Thank you both for your advice. Greatly appreciated and I will take it on board. I think the OH&S path might be looking like the right way to go for me. I will keep investigating so I come up with the right decision.

Thanks again.


08-08-2010, 06:51 PM
Hi Jason,

I was a Registered Nurse for some 20 years with a significant amount of that time spent in nursing management positions, & have successfully transitioned into a role of HR Manager. My interest & entry into HR came through a variety of portfolios namely along the lines of Education & Staff development. I did go back to uni part time & have completed my Masters in HR & am about 3/4 of the way through an MBA. Throughout this time I have moved between both the acute & aged care sectors in order to secure HR specific roles which would aid my HR skill development. I did initially have to supplement my income with agency nursing whilst I gained credibility in HR & an ability to apply for more senior roles. I have managed both the OHS & workcover portfolios but have to say that at the time these were on the job learning experiences whilst in HR roles.

I can only say that the Masters course of study certainly provided me with a legitimacy when applying for roles (well before the study was completed) because it pointed to my seriousness in developing my career in this area. It was also an absolutely invaluable learning experience & I used what I learned almost daily in my HR practice. I have remained in the heathcare industry & have found that my nursing background has provided me with a unique perspective on HR in health which has never gone unnoticed by the employers I have worked for. Today I am an HR Manager in a hospital.

From my experience I can only say that your background in nursing certainly has the potential to position you well for an HR career in health - mine certainly did. I have recruited two ex-nurses to the roles of HR Officers in the past 12 months because they bring a unique perspective & understanding of the complexities of the industry. However, I also work with a fantastic HR Officer who had previously never worked in health.

My best wishes for whatever you decide.