I am in a rather bleak point of my nursing career and I wanted to share my experience. Maybe if there is anyone out there in the same situation could know that they're not alone or perhaps others can offer me some advice or something. So here goes my miserable story...
Because of my family's persuasion, I enrolled on a diploma course in Malaysia. Anyhow, my family pushed me into nursing because back in 2007, it was 'in demand' and 'you can find a job anywhere in the world'. It was with promises bordering on guaranteed employment immediately after graduation. I honestly enjoyed the training and looked forward to a good career. Then graduation hit and it was time to look for jobs. 90% of my classmates were sponsored by a hospital with 5 years contracts to work for them. I didn't think much of these sponsorships until I was faced with the knowledge that hospitals very rarely hire nurses they haven't trained. I had such a horrid time trying to find a job after my graduation. So did all my other foreign classmates. Only 1 out of the 6 of us managed to get employment and it was 2 years after graduation. At the time, I was lucky enough to have family members who owned a high class clinic and gave me work. But they were not able to officially sponsor me for visa purposes.
At the end of 2010, I could no longer extend my student visa in Malaysia and was faced with the nightmare of returning to my home country. I am unfamiliar with Burma since I had been in Malay since I was 7 even if I'm still a Burmese citizen. And really, it is not a pleasant country. It was terrifying for me. With that in mind, I applied to universities in Australia because at the time nurses were in high demand there and much more accepting of foreign nurses than in Malaysia (according to my aunt who is a mental health nurse there). All the courses were 2-3 years, except for IRON. Unfortunately, due to circumstance my parents were not able to support me financially to enroll on the courses. Then along came an offer to study at Bsc level in UK with employment prospects even during term time. Plus it was considerably cheaper since I was offered a scholarship. As much as I love the country for it's rich history, I had doubts whether to accept the offer or not. But in the end, I did accept. I had to try to do something with my career.
That was how I came to UK, all alone. I was told on the first day of uni about how to register with the nursing council. I applied to sit for the IELTS first thing. In the first few months things were going great. I was doing exceptionally well in the coursework and it seemed everywhere you look, advertisement for nurse jobs were staring back at you. When I was finally able to start applying for the registration, it was already 7 months into the course. I knew roughly how much time it would take for the initial registration process. It took NMC 4 months to finally issue a decision letter, telling me to start the 3 months clinical placement. Then it took another 3 months for my uni to find me a placement. By then there was only 3 months left to completion of the Bsc course. I was starting to really to worry. In the meantime, I managed to find a job as a healthcare assistant though as the months went by, I was put on bank shifts and was hardly given any shifts at all.
In Dec 2012 I finished the clinical placement and graduated with a first class honours. But because of the holidays, I could not submit the paperwork to NMC till first week of Jan'13. It has been a complete nightmare since then. NMC went on a policy review and froze any processing of overseas trained applicants. Normally it was only supposed to take 2-6 weeks to get registration after submitting the final paperwork. But because of the review, my application wasn't even processed until 2nd April. 3 months completely wasted. Without the registration number, none of the prospective employers can sponsor me for a work visa. And my student visa was expiring at the end of the April. I paid my registration fee as soon as I found out I had been approved by the council. But they had more paperwork for me sign and it took another week to get that document to me by post. I sent it back immediately and a couple of days later, when I called the council, I was told I am now on the register. But they refused to tell me my registration number on the phone or email and told me to simply wait for it as it is being posted to me. Even as I am writing this I still have not received that post so I still have no idea what my registration number is which further prevents me from applying to jobs.
I had been going through these days with the knowledge that as soon as I get my number, my friend's workplace is ready to hire me and provide sponsorship. Then things got even worse. I tried to set up appointments in advance with the UKBA so that as soon as I get the number and sponsor letter, I can apply for work visa. But it was impossible to get an appointment by myself unless I hire a solicitor. This whole thing was going to cost me GBP 2000 at least. My parents asked me to come home and apply from there which will be a lot cheaper and I will be able to see them again for the first time since I left and also avoid overstaying if my visa expires. So I asked if the employer can still sponsor me if I applied work visa from back home only to be given a big fat NO. I was terribly shocked by the news and began searching for other employers but with no results. It was always the same answer.
I had met a very kind Indian nurse at my workplace. When I told her of my predicament, she spoke to her employer who might be able to give me the sponsorship to apply from outside UK. He told me that he needed to consult with an agent before he can confirm it and will let me know asap. I have not heard back from him as it was only yesterday that we spoke.
Right now, I have lost all hope. I will be returning to my country in a few days. I have excellent academics and passion for my work but with no way to put any of it to use. What am I supposed to do with my oh so pretty on paper registrations in two countries? I really wanted to be a critical care or scrub nurse. I feel terrible for my father who should be retired but can't because he has to provide for me. I keep promising him that I will be able to take care of them soon but l can't seem to. It makes me feel even worse when they both comfort and support me even when everything seems so hopeless. I'm so grateful to them.
This has turned into a really long post. But I hope that others who have faced situations similar to mine can at least plan ahead and avoid my fate. I would really welcome any advice any of you can give me. Right now I really don't know what to do.