Travel Nursing to London and/or Africa

  1. I would like to know if anyone has any information on how to become a travel nurse who works in London. I have met a large number of travel nurses in the hospital I currently work in and would like to know the steps to go about doing that. Are there any American based travel agencies that exist that will transport nurses to England? If not, how would I reach out to a London based company? I would like to pursue London first because I think it'd be a easier process and it's very diverse and big city like which is what I am used to. I have my BSN and roughly 3 years experience. I own a visa but I am aware that you would have to get a work permit and go though all that jazz with paperwork. I am aware that this process may take several months to a year and would like to do this sometime next year as I have an opportunity to move up to ICU in my current hospital (Currently telemetry). Anybody out there that has done it before? I hear the pay is horrible, but are you able to negotiate like the states? Are hospital's there union or non-union. Anyone know of ratios? Level of responsibilities? How to get sponsored? I'd probably feel more comfortable in a large teaching hospital.

    I would also love an information on how to nurse abroad in Africa and particularly Nigeria or South Africa. Is it possible to work in Africa from the states without it being a "volunteer/aid" kind of job? Simply wondering what my first step would be.

    Thanks
  2. Visit newrn93 profile page

    About newrn93

    Joined: Apr '16; Posts: 79; Likes: 65

    26 Comments

  3. by   NurseCard
    I actually have an old friend/coworker who traveled to London with an agency,
    to work. She's been over there a couple of years now. I'll try to get in touch with
    her and ask her what agency she is with.
  4. by   KelRN215
    Doctors without borders accepts nurses for 6-9 month assignments (I believe) and places them in Africa. I did volunteer nursing work in Tanzania and they just accepted my Massachusetts RN license.
  5. by   Coffee Nurse
    There are no American agencies placing nurses in the UK that I am aware of, and there do not appear to be any UK-based agencies left; I went over about six years ago with Continental Travelnurse but their license to sponsor visas was rescinded back in November, and O'Grady Peyton appears to be only doing US placements for international nurses now. Your best bet is probably to apply to hospitals who can sponsor you directly, although then you would be a permanent member of staff and not able to travel per se.

    What do you mean that you "have a visa" but would need a work permit? They're one and the same.

    The process of getting registered (licensed) in the UK is a long, expensive, arduous one. Have you looked into that at all yet?

    The pay is bad compared to the US, although you wouldn't have to worry about paying for things like health insurance, at least. There's not much room to negotiate; every employee of the NHS has their pay determined by the Agenda for Change scheme, which takes into account the seniority of your position and (to a small extent) your experience in that position. There are a couple of nationwide unions -- the Royal College of Nursing is obviously nursing-specific, and Unison is an umbrella group for public sector workers -- but in my experience they didn't do much. The NHS in general is much more of a "make do and mend" culture; people are generally very proud to be working for it and willing to bend over backwards to make limited funding, staffing, and equipment stretch as far as possible.

    In my NICU, the intensive-care patients were limited to 1:2 for a ratio, stretching to 1:3-4 for the grower-feeders. I know PICU was almost always 1:1. Can't say for sure about anywhere else, although I lived in agency housing with adult nurses for a while and got the impression their ratios were not good.
  6. by   CharleeFoxtrot
    Just my 2 cents, South Africa is a very very VERY dangerous place most of the time but it's particularly volatile at the moment due to political upheaval. Nigeria is worse, and both are under travel alerts by the US gov't for very good reason.

    Take time to learn about the places you are talking about nursing before you set a course.
  7. by   newrn93
    Thankyou so much!
  8. by   newrn93
    Coffee Nurse, BSN, RN Thankyou so much for your helpful insight. I'm having a hard time finding any existing agencies out there but will continue to research. I do have an aunt in the medical field who works in a big hospital in Germany, however I don't think she can do much about me trying to find a job in London. I will also look into O'Grady peyton. Am I allowed to apply directly to London based hospitals as a foreigner? Well I assume once I get my qualifications/UK license I won't necessarily be a foreigner but able to work staff positions. Because I do not know if I want to live in London indefinitely, I'm not sure if the staff route will be good for me. There is agency nursing in the UK however right? Where I can sign on for 3-6 months? I meant passport not visa btw, LOL.

    I've heard that it is a long process, all I know is that you have to pass some kind of test, register with a board, and that you have to have your BSN? I will begin to look into that further.

    Thankyou about your insight on ratios and unions, definitely good to know! I was talking about this to a coworker last night and a doctor overheard me. He chimed in and quickly said that healthcare in London is horrible, and that ambulances simply line up for blocks back and that's the detriment of "socialized healthcare." He claims that everything is delayed! Any insight to how their overall healthcare system differs from the states?
  9. by   newrn93
    CharleeFoxtrot, ADN FYI I am of Nigerian decent and 95% of my family currently live in Nigeria. I have been there twice and I am well aware of the dangers of Nigeria. From my parents, I was informed that the really dangerous areas are North Nigeria/muslim areas of Nigeria which I am not from and have no interest going to those areas. I think it'd be absolutely amazing to live in my place of origin and figure if my parents and countless other immigrants are able to immigrate to another country then why can't I...at least for a little. The political agenda and terrorism in Nigeria is only getting worse and worse I know but that wouldn't completely deter me from going there. Instead of visiting it'd be amazing to live there for a short period of time... for me at least (:

    Suppose I understand why you'd assume I know nothing about these places, as I do not know much about South Africa at least and can probably safely say that it would be even HARDER for me if I went there.

    Thanks for your input
  10. by   Coffee Nurse
    Quote from newrn93
    Coffee Nurse, BSN, RN Thankyou so much for your helpful insight. I'm having a hard time finding any existing agencies out there but will continue to research. I do have an aunt in the medical field who works in a big hospital in Germany, however I don't think she can do much about me trying to find a job in London. I will also look into O'Grady peyton. Am I allowed to apply directly to London based hospitals as a foreigner? Well I assume once I get my qualifications/UK license I won't necessarily be a foreigner but able to work staff positions. Because I do not know if I want to live in London indefinitely, I'm not sure if the staff route will be good for me. There is agency nursing in the UK however right? Where I can sign on for 3-6 months? I meant passport not visa btw, LOL.

    I've heard that it is a long process, all I know is that you have to pass some kind of test, register with a board, and that you have to have your BSN? I will begin to look into that further.

    Thankyou about your insight on ratios and unions, definitely good to know! I was talking about this to a coworker last night and a doctor overheard me. He chimed in and quickly said that healthcare in London is horrible, and that ambulances simply line up for blocks back and that's the detriment of "socialized healthcare." He claims that everything is delayed! Any insight to how their overall healthcare system differs from the states?
    What I'm saying is that I don't think there are any agencies based on the American model of travel nursing (i.e. temporary assignments with full-time hours) left. I skimmed the O'Grady website this morning and they seem to be exclusively placing international nurses in the US nowadays, whereas previously they had been staffing in the UK and Australia as well. If that's the case, then your only option is to apply directly to permanent staff positions in hospitals.

    Essentially, in order to be able to move to the UK and work, you need a visa. That could be non-work-related -- e.g. if you are married to a UK citizen -- but would more likely be finding an employer who is permitted by UK Visas and Immigration to sponsor you for a work visa. Most large hospitals are able to do so, but they are required -- at least as of now, pre-Brexit -- to prove that they cannot find any
    other suitable candidate in the EU/European Economic Area who would be able to do the job they want to hire you for. There are nursing agencies, but they focus on filling shifts on a case-by-case basis for multiple hospitals, and do not sponsor foreign nurses for visas.

    UK licensure and "foreigner" status are entirely separate issues. You could go through the whole UK licensing process and still not be able to move there and work if you are unable to find a hospital to sponsor you. And once there, you are still considered a "foreigner" until such time as you obtain citizenship (at least six years and thousands of pounds down the line from your initial arrival). This does not impact much on your day-to-day life, but there were times when I felt very much second class (being unable to fly back for my grandfather's funeral because my passport was away for visa renewal, for instance; or learning about the NHS surcharge that has been added to the list of visa fees just because double-charging immigrants is like shooting fish in a barrel).

    The doctor you mentioned should learn what he's talking about before offering opinions. The quality of healthcare in London varies (as it does anywhere) but is generally top-notch in the good hospitals. There are no ambulances lining up for blocks, especially in London, where there are many hospitals with A&Es (ERs). It's true that elective procedures can take longer than in the US; on the other hand, if I wanted to transfer a baby back to a hospital that was ten minutes away from his parents as opposed to two hours, I didn't have to worry about whether it would be approved by the insurance company or not. Moreover, people are not bankrupted by an unexpected hospitalization the way they can be in the US.

    Moving to London was one of the best decisions I've ever made; however, I'd think long and hard about starting the process these days. It is an insanely expensive thing to go through for the "privilege" of living in the UK. More importantly, I worry about the state of the NHS over the next 5-10 years, as its staffing shortfall is being exacerbated on several fronts -- they eliminated the bursary for student nurses a few years ago, leading to fewer people applying to nursing school; and the looming prospect of Brexit is driving experienced staff out in droves and putting others off coming to the country. There was an article in the Guardian recently about the thousands of beds across the country that are sitting empty because they cannot find enough people to staff them. Add this to an already strained system, especially in the winter (there is an annual winter bed crisis roughly coinciding with flu season), and I'm not sure how the NHS can continue much longer in its current form.
  11. by   adventure_rn
    One very cool option to work in Africa is Mercy Ships; it's a faith-based NGO that operates a ship-based hospital which sails up and down the west coast of Africa providing services (especially surgery) free of charge. The length requirements for various nursing specialties vary based on need. You live on the ship (which some may argue is safer), but have the opportunity to venture out into the community.

    I know very little about travel nursing contracts in the UK, however, I do have some family living in the UK and it sounds as though the field of nursing is in a precarious state (like Coffee Nurse said). Units are facing a great deal of short-staffing, poor salaries, and general under-funding. In addition, UK nursing salaries are generally lower than many in the US relative to the cost of living, and London is an incredibly expensive city. Even if you do secure a job, you may have trouble affording to live there.

    Not sure if this would interest you, but I've heard of people traveling to Australia for nursing jobs and from what I understand it is much easier to obtain a temporary work visa. Salaries for Australia nurses are also higher than UK nurses, although the cost of living in Australia in general is quite high (and I'm sure much higher if you prefer to live in a large city).
  12. by   Coffee Nurse
    Quote from Coffee Nurse
    What I'm saying is that I don't think there are any agencies based on the American model of travel nursing (i.e. temporary assignments with full-time hours) left.
    After re-reading the notification from NHS Employers to trusts about Continental's sponsorship license revocation, my understanding is that this model is fundamentally at odds with Home Office sponsorship rules; as quoted in the linked page, "You cannot sponsor a migrant if you will then supply them as labour, to another organisation, regardless of any genuine contractual arrangement between the parties involved." Even if you do find another agency sponsoring foreign nurses to come and work in UK hospitals, they are likely to be breaking the law.
  13. by   newrn93
    Quote from Coffee Nurse
    What I'm saying is that I don't think there are any agencies based on the American model of travel nursing (i.e. temporary assignments with full-time hours) left. I skimmed the O'Grady website this morning and they seem to be exclusively placing international nurses in the US nowadays, whereas previously they had been staffing in the UK and Australia as well. If that's the case, then your only option is to apply directly to permanent staff positions in hospitals.

    Essentially, in order to be able to move to the UK and work, you need a visa. That could be non-work-related -- e.g. if you are married to a UK citizen -- but would more likely be finding an employer who is permitted by UK Visas and Immigration to sponsor you for a work visa. Most large hospitals are able to do so, but they are required -- at least as of now, pre-Brexit -- to prove that they cannot find any
    other suitable candidate in the EU/European Economic Area who would be able to do the job they want to hire you for. There are nursing agencies, but they focus on filling shifts on a case-by-case basis for multiple hospitals, and do not sponsor foreign nurses for visas.

    UK licensure and "foreigner" status are entirely separate issues. You could go through the whole UK licensing process and still not be able to move there and work if you are unable to find a hospital to sponsor you. And once there, you are still considered a "foreigner" until such time as you obtain citizenship (at least six years and thousands of pounds down the line from your initial arrival). This does not impact much on your day-to-day life, but there were times when I felt very much second class (being unable to fly back for my grandfather's funeral because my passport was away for visa renewal, for instance; or learning about the NHS surcharge that has been added to the list of visa fees just because double-charging immigrants is like shooting fish in a barrel).

    The doctor you mentioned should learn what he's talking about before offering opinions. The quality of healthcare in London varies (as it does anywhere) but is generally top-notch in the good hospitals. There are no ambulances lining up for blocks, especially in London, where there are many hospitals with A&Es (ERs). It's true that elective procedures can take longer than in the US; on the other hand, if I wanted to transfer a baby back to a hospital that was ten minutes away from his parents as opposed to two hours, I didn't have to worry about whether it would be approved by the insurance company or not. Moreover, people are not bankrupted by an unexpected hospitalization the way they can be in the US.

    Moving to London was one of the best decisions I've ever made; however, I'd think long and hard about starting the process these days. It is an insanely expensive thing to go through for the "privilege" of living in the UK. More importantly, I worry about the state of the NHS over the next 5-10 years, as its staffing shortfall is being exacerbated on several fronts -- they eliminated the bursary for student nurses a few years ago, leading to fewer people applying to nursing school; and the looming prospect of Brexit is driving experienced staff out in droves and putting others off coming to the country. There was an article in the Guardian recently about the thousands of beds across the country that are sitting empty because they cannot find enough people to staff them. Add this to an already strained system, especially in the winter (there is an annual winter bed crisis roughly coinciding with flu season), and I'm not sure how the NHS can continue much longer in its current form.
    Wow, your insight has been very helpful. It's unfortunate that international travelling to the UK is dwindling. I'm sure the UK has per diem positioning? Maybe that'd be my best bet, however if they have to prove that they don't have anyone else qualified there then I'd think it'd be near impossible. Thanks for your rebuttal to the doctor's comments, that was giving me second guesses lol.

    I'm thrilled that you were able to have this opportunity and anything anyone terms as "the best decision I've made in my life," is worth pursing for me. Sucks how things were 10x easier back in the day. When you say it's insanely expensive what exactly are the expensive parts? Is it getting licensure there, getting a visa, or just cost of living that you'd consider insanely expensive? Also, if less people are going to nursing school there, where are they getting their nurses from? Other European countries??

    Thanks so much again
  14. by   newrn93
    Quote from adventure_rn
    One very cool option to work in Africa is Mercy Ships; it's a faith-based NGO that operates a ship-based hospital which sails up and down the west coast of Africa providing services (especially surgery) free of charge. The length requirements for various nursing specialties vary based on need. You live on the ship (which some may argue is safer), but have the opportunity to venture out into the community.

    I know very little about travel nursing contracts in the UK, however, I do have some family living in the UK and it sounds as though the field of nursing is in a precarious state (like Coffee Nurse said). Units are facing a great deal of short-staffing, poor salaries, and general under-funding. In addition, UK nursing salaries are generally lower than many in the US relative to the cost of living, and London is an incredibly expensive city. Even if you do secure a job, you may have trouble affording to live there.

    Not sure if this would interest you, but I've heard of people traveling to Australia for nursing jobs and from what I understand it is much easier to obtain a temporary work visa. Salaries for Australia nurses are also higher than UK nurses, although the cost of living in Australia in general is quite high (and I'm sure much higher if you prefer to live in a large city).
    That's very interesting and I appreciate your recommendation! I've heard of boat/ship nursing before and never really cared much for it but this is definitely an opportunity! When you say faith based im assuming you mean religious? It's cool that you'd still be able to venture into the community.

    Sucks about that state of nursing in the UK. I am/was set on going to London before ever considering Africa as I think it'd be much easier to travel to an area more similar to the states first. Anyone know of any possible volunteer opportunities in the UK then? OR non-volunteer opportunities in other parts of Africa?

    I just had an Australian patient the other night, the accents are beautiful! I've never thought of going there and don't know much about Australia but appreciate your insight.

    FYI I live in California and in the cities with the highest cost of living in the US. I am not concerned about cost of living IF the pay matches up. Thanks!

close