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  • 27 November 2018
  • 5 min read

Essential advice for overseas nurses looking for a job in the UK

  • Matt Farrah
    Co-Founder, Niche Jobs

Working as a nurse in the UK presents great career opportunities and, due to a domestic shortage, the National Health Service (NHS) is reliant on overseas medical professionals. Recruitment drives are frequently held in other countries to attract talented individuals, while others might apply of their own volition.

Becoming a nurse or midwife in the UK is a fantastic opportunity. Here's essential advice to ensure you succeed.

One of the questions I get asked a lot is how can an overseas nurse come to the UK and work as a nurse or midwife?

Well, the answer is two-fold.

The application process to become a nurse in the UK is long and involved, requiring a lot of paperwork.

Plus the requirements are different for those that trained within the European Economic Area (due to EU employment regulations) and those that trained outside the EEA.

To help you navigate through the process, the following advice is essential for anyone seeking a nursing position in the UK:

Registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council

To work as a nurse in the UK, all applicants must register with the NMC, which is the body that officially regulates nursing and midwifery professionals. 

The Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC) is the regulatory body for UK nurses.

As an overseas nurse, you will need to acquire both a UK Work permit (and an employer who is able to sponsor you) and NMC (Nursing & Midwifery Council) registration.

To be able to practise in the UK as a nurse or midwife, every nurse needs to have a current registration and PIN number.

If you go to the NMC's site, you will be able to see the required information for registering as a nurse or midwife in the UK.

The NMC will determine whether you need to do any adaptation or if your nursing qualification can be automatically recognised and a PIN number issued without condition.

The decision will either be registration, rejection or the requirement to undertake a period of Supervised Practice.

To find a placement, it is best to contact hospitals directly.

Bear in mind that registration with the NMC does not offer the right to work in the UK - a visa will still be necessary for non-EEA nationals.

Overseas Nursing Programme / Adaptation to Midwifery Programme

Those accepted onto the NMC register that have been trained outside the EEA will be required to take a nursing or midwifery course to adapt their existing skills to allow them to practice in UK.

Individuals will need to enrol on a course before they arrive in the UK; course providers can be found via the NMC website.

While completing the course, applicants may be able to find work in the UK as Healthcare Assistants or as an Auxiliary Trained Abroad worker.

Once the course is finished, they may gain their NMC registration.

For those nurses who have received training outside the EU/EEA, there is a competence test (CBT) and a practical examination of skills called the objective structured clinical examination (OSCE).

For more information about these assessments, please look here.

Visas

As of June 2018, the UK government announced it would relax the rules for these visas, so there is no longer a cap on the number that can be issued.

So, if you’re an overseas nurse wanting to work in the UK, you will need to have a look at the Home Office for information on UK work permits.

If you’re from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland, you will need to apply for a Tier 2 (General) Visa.

Shortage occupation list

It's a well known fact that the UK nursing community comprises many nationalities, however, this has sometimes had a negative affect on home nations, leaving them short of talent themselves.

To ensure more 'ethical recruitment', the British government's Department of Health has drawn up a list of developing countries from which applicants should not be hired.

These include Albania, Kenya, Turkey and four Indian states. In a similar vein, certain nursing positions have been taken off the UK Shortage Occupation List, which details the country's most urgently needed professions.

This means that domestic applicants will be preferred over overseas nurses for some roles. It is worth checking beforehand.

Proficiency in English is essential

Applicants will be asked to take English tests via the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), to demonstrate that they can understand and communicate confidently when on British shores. The tests cover listening, reading, writing and speaking. A minimum overall score of 7.0 is required for NMC registration.

The English language requirements are detailed here. There are several ways to provide the necessary evidence of language proficiency, so please have a read through this page.

Apply well in advance

As you can probably discern, applying to work as a nurse in the UK is time-consuming and complicated.

Consequently, it is important to send your application off well in advance of the date you actually would like to arrive in the UK.

Ensure you have your diplomas, birth certificate, training log and references to hand, to expedite the process.

Similarly, here's what to know if you're a UK nurse looking to work in Australia.

Find nursing jobs and midwifery jobs here at Nurses.co.uk.

About the author

  • Matt Farrah
    Co-Founder, Niche Jobs

I'm fascinated by the career choices we all make. It speaks about who we are. People choose to become a nurse or work in medicine or care for one of two reasons. One: simply, they always wanted to be a nurse or social worker or doctor. Two: even more simply, they want a job which helps people. In our blogs I want to explore these career choices: the ones that put other people first.

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  • Matt Farrah
    Co-Founder, Niche Jobs

About the author

  • Matt Farrah
    Co-Founder, Niche Jobs

I'm fascinated by the career choices we all make. It speaks about who we are. People choose to become a nurse or work in medicine or care for one of two reasons. One: simply, they always wanted to be a nurse or social worker or doctor. Two: even more simply, they want a job which helps people. In our blogs I want to explore these career choices: the ones that put other people first.