Why US Nurses Might Consider Practising in the United Kingdom

By Brit Peacock

While you’d never come to the UK for the weather, spending some time nursing over here can be enlightening and ultimately rewarding, whether you opt for private sector or the National Health Service (NHS).

Whatever your thoughts on Obamacare, the UK’s NHS is widely seen as the benchmark for a ‘free’ healthcare system. Born in 1948, it was the first time that hospitals, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, opticians and dentists were brought together under one umbrella organisation.

The central principle being that quality healthcare would be available for all, financed entirely through taxation, which meant people paid according to their means. While some things have changed, it’s still an amazing environment to work in.

Making the Move
Prior to October 2014, it was, quite frankly, a nightmare of bureaucracy when applying to nurse in the UK from outside the EU. Even well-qualified nurses, working in top US hospitals found it challenging to gain entry onto the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s (NMC) register.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks was having to prove that you’d accumulated 4,600 hours in nursing-relevant classes, when American colleges use a different system of accreditation. Many who did manage it only did so with the help of an experienced nursing agency. Fortunately, it has recently become much easier to practise in the UK for overseas nurses.

Current Requirements
In order to come to the UK from the USA, you must have had at least twelve months’ experience working as a general nurse, plus you’ll need to:
• Pass an on-line multiple-choice exam, which you can take in your home country.
• Pass a practical objective structured clinical examination (OSCE), taken in the UK.
• Score an average of 7 in the International English Language Testing System

While the English exam might seem unnecessary for US nurses, it is still mandatory, and hopefully one you’ll pass with flying colours. Interestingly, while nurses from countries where English is the primary language must take this test, applicants coming from the EU do not.

A Helping Hand
To assess whether you will have the necessary theoretical and practical experience to pass the nursing exams, you can seek advice from a reputable nursing recruiter, who will have advisers to help. And of course they’ll also be able to help you find suitable RN vacancies that are matched to your specialisms and experience.

Whichever nursing role you enjoy, with the UK having an almost constant shortfall of well-qualified nursing practitioners, you should find excellent opportunities for employment and career advancement across the pond. Just remember to bring an umbrella!

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