American RN working in the UK?

  1. This is my first official post on allnurses! I have lots of questions about working abroad as a nurse.

    I met my British husband while studying abroad for a year at the University of Oxford in England. We recently married and are currently living in the U.S. while I finish my last year nursing school. I will graduate next May with a BSN. He is waiting for his green card to arrive and we plan on living in the States for the next few years until he gets U.S. citizenship. After that, we're entertaining the thought of moving back to the U.K. so I can get UK citizenship as well.

    While this is not something I've looked into a great deal, I am positive I will be eligible to work in the UK since I am married to a British citizen. However, I'm not sure what the official process is to transition as an RN.

    -Do I have to take another exam similar to the NCLEX? I know the U.S. makes all foreigners take the NCLEX and I'm not sure if the reciprocal is true.

    -I read the US to UK nursing thread and saw the OP talk a lot about having their university transfer hours, etc. Will I be considered an "overseas nurse" as mentioned in that thread if I am immigrating? The terminology is a bit confusing.

    -I've heard there are tiers of nursing-can someone explain that to me?

    -And will any U.S. experience/qualifications I acquire in the next few years transfer or will I have zero seniority?

    -Which areas of nursing are in highest demand? I've read a few entries on here about how NICU and ICU nursing are promising ways of getting a visa, although I'm not sure if that's because they're in highest demand. As I mentioned before, getting legal work authorization is not something I am terribly concerned about. We've tackled the U.S. immigration system and I'm confident we'll be fine with the U.K.'s.

    -I know nurses in the UK don't tend to make comprable wages to the $70,000/year U.S. salary but is the money liveable? Someone once told me that nurses in the UK are like U.S. housekeepers in terms of working conditions, pay rate and societal perception . I thought that was a harsh statement, but is there any truth to the mentality that being a nurse is frowned upon with bad conditions, etc.?

    -I am not bilingual. Will this be a huge issue?

    -I've heard that many people go through nursing school as a stepping stone to other professions since it fosters excellent communication, empathy, time management skills, etc. Is there much truth to that? US nurses have about a 10 year burn out rate and I'm curious what options are available if a nurse decides to move on with her career.

    I'm sure some of this varies by demographics. We're interested in living in/near Oxford, London, Winchester or South Hampton as we have family and/or familiaritiy in those areas. I'm generally interested in pediatric nursing, labor and delivery, NICU as well as mental and behavioral health as opposed to medsurg stuff, although I plan to do a few years of medsurg to get experience. I have a NICU internship at a local hospital this summer, so I'll have at least some undergrad experience.

    Thanks in advance! Sorry for writing a book .

    Last edit by Terri_M on May 6, '09
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    About Terri_M

    Joined: May '09; Posts: 2


  3. by   Silverdragon102
    Hi and welcome to the site

    Being married to a UK citizen will make things a lot easier for you. You will need to meet requirements for overseas trained nurse with the NMC. So would start that process several months before you move.

    I would say things are different in the UK. You will get more in the way of holidays/vacation and sickness (they are separate to each other) Working will vary from hospital to hospital but full time is usually 37.5 hours but you may have shifts to work and they are different to the US. Not all hospitals work 12 hour shifts. I don't think the burn out time frame is the same as the US and I worked for several years (over 15) with no problems and only went to work in the community because I met my husband and moved. There are plenty of opportunities to advance in nursing as well as training so a lot depends on what you want to do.