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Differences between a Registered Nurse and Enrolled Nurse


29 October 2019

The scope of practice for an Enrolled nurse (EN) and Registered nurse (RN) are quite different. The main difference is the qualification including education preparation and experience. ENs complete a Diploma of Nursing, which is a two-year course, and RNs complete a Bachelor of Nursing, which is a three year course. 

An EN’s normal day consists of duties such as:

  • Work under the direct / indirect supervision of an RN
  • Perform holistic assessment including observation, physical examination and measurements for example taking a client’s temperature, pulse, blood pressure, respiration, blood sugar levels, etc.
  • Report any changes in a client’s condition to the RN and doctors
  • Assist with personal hygiene tasks and activities of daily living  such as showering, bathing, dressing, eating and general comfort
  • Assist clients with rehab or exercise programs where applicable
  • Plan, implement and evaluate nursing care plan in collaboration with RN and other health care team members to optimise patient outcome
  • Assist with general first aid and emergencies
  • Encourage and educate clients  to lead a healthy lifestyle
  • Administer medications based on the EN scope of practice
  • Promote the safety of self and others in all aspects of nursing practice 

The RN has more responsibility than an EN. An RN’s duty includes the practical hands-on tasks like an EN but it also includes more complex patient care, problem solving, leadership, management roles, education and research.

The key responsibilities of an RN include: 

  • Undertake comprehensive patient assessment 
  • Develop a nursing care plan in consultation with the multidisciplinary team and evaluate the outcome
  • Undertake holistic care including emotional, psychological and spiritual support
  • Administer medications and evaluate the outcome 
  • Operate in a critical and complex environment
  • Works as a patient advocate, supervise and mentor EN’s and junior RN’s 
  • Work in consultation with the multidisciplinary  team for the better outcome of the patient 
  • Participate and contribute to occupational health and safety activities to ensure a safe work environment for clients, family and colleagues Keeping a safe and clean work environment 
  • Participate in regular personal and professional development

ENs have endless career possibilities and can work in a variety of settings, so you will always have the opportunity to move around and work in different areas. ENs can also become RNs by completing a Bachelor of Nursing, which is an excellent option for those who are looking to advance their career. The experience you gain as an EN will be invaluable in this transition and you are likely to receive credit for the Diploma of Nursing units you studied towards the Bachelors of Nursing.

Box Hill Institute offers a Diploma of Nursing and has articulated pathways with Deakin University and the Australian Catholic University for students who have successfully completed the course to receive credit towards a Bachelor of Nursing qualification. 

The Diploma of Nursing is also on the State Government’s Free TAFE for Priority Courses list, available to eligible applicants.

For more information about studying nursing at Box Hill Institute, visit our Health & Nursing study area.