What is a RUSON? And how can nursing students become one?

Last Updated: 29 September 2022

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When you’re a student, it can be hard to apply what you’re learning to real-life situations due to the heavy emphasis placed on the importance of theory as opposed to practice.

However, if you’re a nursing student who’s completed over 12 months of your course, you may be eligible to put your theoretical knowledge to practice!

Keep reading to learn more about the process of becoming - and succeeding as – a RUSON!

What is a RUSON?

What does RUSON stand for?

Registered Undergraduate Student of Nursing

In Australia, nursing students are eligible to become a RUSON if they satisfy all of the following criteria:

  1. They are currently enrolled at a university to undertake undergraduate nursing study.

  2. They are registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Agency (Ahpra) as a student nurse.

  3. Upon commencement of a RUSON role, they have completed at least 12 months of a Bachelor of Nursing degree.

What do RUSONs do?

According to the Australian Department of Health, a RUSON works in ‘acute or subacute care and aged care settings' with the aim of ‘helping nurses to provide patient care’ (Department of Health, 2022).

Essentially, as a RUSON, you gain incredibly deep and valuable insights into the work life of a nurse by working alongside more experienced nurses in a basic, support-driven role.

When RUSONs enter into a contract with a health service, they are given a list of approved activities that they are permitted to perform when working a shift. This list usually includes activities within these categories: hygiening, toileting, manual handling, mobility, nutrition, documentation, and more.

On shift, they must always (and only!) receive direction and supervision from registered nurses.

Are RUSONs paid?

Yes, they are! According to the ANMF, RUSONs are generally employed as casual or part-time contracted employees (On the Record Editorial, 2022).

Healthcare services that employ RUSONs will often have caveats in their contract where they must work a certain number of hours. For example, an employer may request that RUSONs work no less than 0.2 FTE and no more than 0.8 FTE.

How can you become a RUSON?

Start by searching for RUSON roles in your area. They are often advertised on health service’s online careers boards or on sites such as Glassdoor and Indeed. While students are usually only able to work with certain health services according to their university’s affiliations, online position listings are a good way to investigate the market and find skills that employers look for in RUSONs.

On a more personal level, if you have a specific service in mind, arrange a time to meet with the head of your Bachelor degree – or another university figure – to see if your university has any connections to that service. Maybe someone who works there used to study where you are right now, or maybe a nurse from that service provides guest lectures to your university. These are all great ‘ins’.

Where else can you learn more about working as a RUSON?

There are plenty of resources that can explain RUSON roles in more depth.

First up, use the Australian Government’s Department of Health’s web page for a lesson in the fundamentals of RUSONs and their role within today’s healthcare industry: Undergraduate Student Employment | Nursing and Midwifery, DoH.

To gain a more personalised view of how RUSON roles work for others – and also how they might work for you! – read nursing student Fatumo Elmi’s experiences as a RUSON here: 4th year Nursing & Midwifery experiences as RUSON | NursingPreneur.

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Department of Health, 2022. ‘Undergraduate student employment.’ Department of Health: Nursing and Midwifery. Accessed 30 September 2022 via https://www.health.vic.gov.au/nursing-and-midwifery/undergraduate-student-employment

On the Record Editorial, 2022. ‘Higher pay for registered RUSONs and RUSOMs.’ Australian Nurses & Midwifery Federation: On The Record. Accessed 30 September 2022 via https://otr.anmfvic.asn.au/articles/higher-pay-for-registered-rusons-and-rusoms

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