Journey of a foreign nurse getting licensure

World International


Specializes in NICU.

!!!! Just found out that I am eligible for a license with the UK!!!!! Here is my journey as an American nurse:

In 2010 after marrying my British hubby, I started to research into getting a British nursing license as well as British immigration. Although we were nowhere near moving to the UK (not least because it made no sense to go until DH gets dual citizenship), I wanted to look into the process because I am an obsessive planner. I applied for my first initial nursing job 6 months before I graduated from nursing school and currently I have five plans laid out for our finances over the next 10 years. In the end, we've decided to wait until after we have children (when they are old enough to remember it).

I was pretty discouraged as many posts suggested that Americans with the traditional BSNs (no ADNs allowed under the rules unless also have a BSN) didn't have nearly enough theory/clinical hours. The average American program has ~500-1000 clinical hours and ~2300 for the British program. Looking into the British nursing programs, it seemed like the students end up being in a hospital almost like a full-time job.

Then...this happened:

Member helricha had applied for a nursing license and didn't have all the required hours. While talking to a decision officer at the NMC (different from the first-line telephone answer folks), it turned out that the minimum they would accept (from American BSNs, I don't know if this applies to other countries) was 1,500 hours, at least half of which needed to be clinical hours and at least 1/3 of it being theory hours. More on this later.

I decided that I might as well try to apply for a license now as it would be better to try and know. If I didn't make the cut, I planned to ask if RN refresher courses with clinicals or graduate school with clinicals would count.

And so, I took the IELTS (academic). Yes, you may groan, but every system in the history of world has its idiosyncrasies, why should the NMC be so bereft? It's required of anyone not trained in the EU. My DH informed me that language requirements are not legal among countries in the EU, which is why an Italian had no need to take the IELTS, yet I as a native speaker, would. I briefly looked online to know what to expect, but I assumed it wouldn't be too hard as English is my first language. It ended up using a few more of my mental faculties than I imagined and I feel dreadfully sorry for those who have to take it as a second language. All in all, I ended up with a 8.0 in listening, 9.0 in reading, 7.0 in writing, and a 8.5 in speaking, having achieved the minimum "7." It was pretty awkward completing the speaking proportion and I ended up babbling a lot about how Communism decreased tourism in the 1970s...:uhoh3:

Having received my scores, I requested the first packet from the NMC, which only took about two weeks. Along with the application form, I had to send in a certified copy of my birth and marriage certificate, a notarized copy of my nursing license, and a payment. I ended up doing this part over the phone as it was easier for my credit card to do the payment.

The second packet took about three weeks to get and took about a month for me to get everything ready. I had to get my board of nursing to sign a form of my good conduct, two references of good conduct from my managers, a signed form from my doctor of good health, and transcripts from my school. The important thing to remember here is that each form has to have a stamp/seal from the place from who is signing it. The BON and my doctor had stamps, so that was no problem. The hospital was, so I had them write a short letter on official hospital letterhead stating that there was no hospital stamp and that they had signed the form.

And now...the transcripts.

They have to be listed in hours instead of credits. The registrar office, due to the integrity of transcripts, would not print them out in hours, so I contacted my nursing school and asked how many hours each credit was worth. Once we calculated it all out, I made a template of all my nursing related classes and divided them into theory and clinical hours. I also listed my non-nursing classes like English and Math, but didn't include those in the total. I had the office print it out on official university letterhead and seal and to complete the form totaling all the hours.

I ended up with about ~700 theory hours and ~800 clinical hours. It just barely met the minimum, but I sent it all off in hopes. I was told that it takes about 5-7 weeks to make a decision. The NMC told me that they received everything on November 8th.

Today, on December 9th, I found out that I have been accepted!!! :clpty:

I will now figure out when I want to take the Overseas Nursing Programme (ONP). It's about a month, but some programs only have 3 in-class days and then you complete a workbook in between. Here's a to where you can find places where you can take the ONP. Per the UKBA, you don't need a visa to do the ONP (and as per Bourneouth University for their program as I've asked). However, it is with extreme caution that I tell you this and I would NEVER lie about your intentions to a UK officer at the border and I would not take my word for it but you need to investigate this on your own. It can get you banned for life. Do NOT this info take this lightly.

I need to complete the ONP within two years otherwise start this process over way Jose!

Now, a word on immigration. The economy sucks. Whether you think it's because of Bush or Obama, the US economy has tanked and is slowly recovering and due to the disproportionate influence over the rest of the world, we have dragged most other countries into it and the UK is no exception (although I'm sure Greece didn't help things out either...) What does this mean for the average person?

That the NHS is in financial trouble and is laying off many of its own nurses. A foreigner with no claim to EU citizenship or spouse of one has little chance of getting a job. would need company sponsorship and they have to prove that they can't hire anyone in the UK or the EU with your qualifications. In fact, the shortage occupation list only has NICU and OR (theatre) as needs right now and I doubt even then that someone with no ties would be able to get a job. By all means, you can try to get a license and keep it up for several years and wait to see if the economy improves. As memory recalls, it's 75 pounds a year to keep it current.

As someone who is the spouse of a UK citizen, I will have the same employment hiring rights as a UK citizen if I get "Indefinite Leave to Remain" (the UK green card equivalent), except for political and security hush-hush jobs, I'm sure.

In any case...I wish you luck and I will answer questions regarding the process if you like, but remember than I am no expert and my knowledge is only based upon my own experience. Just because I have been successful does not mean someone else would. I only ask that you read what I wrote here and don't ask things already answered...

NMC Overseas Registration Outline:

Many Congratulations babyRN. Wow, what a process. Hope you will get a job here eventually after all your efforts.

Specializes in ER.

I truly don't want to rain on your parade, but do you realise the job situation in the UK right now?

Its non-existent. Please do some homework and check out the situation. Doesnt matter how qualified you are or what your immigration status is, if there are no jobs there are no jobs.

I'm English, and have worked on and off in the UK since 1986, I have never, repeat never, seen healthcare in such a mess as it is now.

I know experienced English nurses who are on welfare, and I also know of former coworkers, who are foreign nurses and are now heading home. Fortunately I am also qualified in the US so I can work there now that the Uk is closing down.

There are no jobs. Every day there is another announcement about another hospital department closing.

Here's a quick example - the LTC facility where I used to work had 240 beds in 2001, its gradually been cut and cut until last year there were just 10 beds open, It closes in 3 weeks time.

Just one example, please read any English newspaper and you will find dozens more like this.

Specializes in NICU.

I don't want to rain on your parade, but you should really read my post in its entirety before you judge ;)

I stated that a) we don't plan to move until after we have our current non-existent children when they are of at least school age (5-10 years from now) and b) that the NHS is in terrible financial straits.

As a moot point, there are quite a few NICU jobs listed on the NHS jobs site as I have them sent to my e-mail as I create a bank of all the NICUs that are in the UK (after a couple of years, I'll list that on here as well along with their capabilities as far as they list them; I did something similar for all the neonatal nurse practitioner programs in the US on the neonatal board). But no, we don't plan to move for 5-10 years.

I agree that that is the case for current RNs looking for work, for sure. And I noted that in my post :)

edit: I suppose in all fairness, perhaps the NHS will be shut down in its entirety in 10 years (if Cameron's party has its way, according to DH). If there are no jobs in 10 years, then there won't be and we won't go. But at least I'll have the option. Maybe we'll go in 20 years. Or 30. Point being, I will now get a license and sometime in the next 40 years before my career ends, I expect that we'll be able to go over there and I'll be able to get a job. If I can't get a job in the next 40 years in the UK, then I suppose I wouldn't want to be over there anyway if conditions were that bad.

edit2: Okay, I apologize, that was a little snarky. It's just a big pet peeve of mine from people who assume that I don't do my own homework and usually I've read a great deal on the subject. I've been researching this kind of stuff for the past year and a half. I've seen it go from bad to worse to yeeesh. Honestly, I don't know how sustainable the NHS will be if they keep having the cuts.

Specializes in ER.

I don't think anyone can really predict how the NHS will fare over the next decade, but my first hand experience is that it is slowly imploding and collapsing, and has reached a point of no return.

I did read your entire post, including the future kids, I was just concerned that you could end up spending a lot of time on money on a plan that right now looks futile, given the current state of the healthcare system and the economy in general.

Yes, there are a few specialist units advertising jobs, but they are few and far between, and there are already a whole bunch of nurses looking for work after their own hospitals got closed down.

Be prepared to complete against 200+ nurses for each job you apply for, and even more if its in the South East. Each time a hospital closes, more nurses are added to the number looking for work, so in ten years time . . . . .??

Incidentally I trained in the UK, and a quick search online recently showed that of my group of 22 nurses, only 3 remained in the UK. Many English nurses go to NZ, Aus, the US or Canada.

You can say that its always a case of the grass being greener, but the fact that they dont return probably says more.

I wish you well with your future plans, but please go into this with as much info as you can and dont set your hopes too high. There are qualified nurses working as CNAs, its all they can find, just please know what you are getting into.

Specializes in NICU.

I understand what you're saying, but there's also a point where there have to be hospitals open. The baby boomer generation is reaching their 60s and in 20 years will be in their 80s. Somebody has to take care of them. Unless you're suggesting that the UK will go into a state of anarchy.

And there will always be premature and sick infants that go to the NICU--where I work (as long as people keep having babies). If not...damn, the WHO and March of Dimes wants to know how you guys did it! Unless you're also suggesting that the UK is going to have significantly less babies in the future, in which case perhaps parliament will likely set up some schemes like Italy did to encourage people to have babies.

At least in the US, the lack of a nursing shortage will come back in full force within 10-15 years and then we'll be really effed. Because people can't work forever and there's going to be more people than ever in nursing homes because of age longevity.

Even if the NHS implodes, people are *still* going to need healthcare. And the rich will pay for it and there are plenty of rich folks there. It's hard to imagine the UK turning into the slums, but I suppose anything is possible. I don't think the UK could turn into as greedy as the US is in regards to healthcare, but I could be wrong.

Regardless, we would never move to the UK unless I got a job. Ever. Pretty insane to move to a new country without having a new job lined up when I have something stable here. So in terms of cost, it's 75 pounds a year. DH thinks it's crazy to spend 750 pounds over the next 10 years (likely more as the rates go up), but now I know it's a possibility. It's worth it to me. And honestly, it my $$. I have my big girl pants on and I'm not looking at this with rose-colored glasses.

Thank you for your desire to be helpful. This is instructing for other folks who may read this. I wish you well and hope that you are able to maintain a stable job. Best of luck to you.

Specializes in NICU.

Congratulations on your NMC approval! I do wonder that you decided to apply so early, when it sounds like it means that you'll just be paying to maintain a license for years without using it, but it seems you've thought all that through and decided what's best for you. I just wanted to mention about going over for the ONP -- I was pretty paranoid going at the border (couldn't quite believe a visa wasn't required) and was planning to divulge as few details as possible to the agent, but I ended up telling them exactly what the course was for and what the dates were, and was stamped through without a problem. I may have felt like an intruder there as a potential employee, but apparently they aren't bothered.

Specializes in NICU.

I agree the pre-planning is weird. It's just how I am. Like I said, I have about 5 different futures all planned out for the next 10 years (with spreadsheets and all sorts of calculations). It's just the way I am. I was just very paranoid when the UKCC changed to the NMC and they didn't accept diplomas or ADNs like they used to and now they don't accept accelerated BSNs, who knows what will happen next?

Going to the UK is very important for DH and I. Not enough to make dumb financial moves by hoping I'll get a job if go over there, but enough for me to try to pre-plan it. Maybe we'll never move over there, but I feel better knowing I have the option (getting a job being the pre-req of course).

I'm afraid my poor manager and supervisor thought I was off to leave them when I asked for the references! But I promised them I wouldn't be leaving for the UK anytime soon...we really can't afford taking a pay cut right now anyway due to our student loan debt.

Congrats on your acceptance!!!

NOW-- where are you going to pick for a ONP?

Coffee Nurse- where did you do yours?

I am hoping to get approval letter...soon...and need to make a decision as to where to travel to.

Specializes in NICU.

I did mine through Bournemouth University. I think the majority of people go there, and it's the cheapest as far as I'm aware.

Thanks Coffee nurse- I would consider the Bournmouth one- but it's 4 days 4 weeks apart!? I just want to get it done. Did you go there each day for the class then home?

Specializes in NICU.

Lord no, that would've been insanely expensive. The reason why they spread out the days like that is because technically, you're supposed to be spending something like 120 hours in the class. Bournemouth lets you do less time physically in class, but for whatever reason the NMC still wants you to be in the country for that long, and anyways, Bournemouth gives you this long workbook that takes a week or two to fill out. I don't know how other programs do it, but it's probably not going to be much better.

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