How to work as a nurse in the United Kingdom

Nurse in hospital room with patient
Photo: Nurse in a hospital room with patient – Thewinanews

Despite the cuts to the British healthcare system in recent years, the demand for medical personnel in the United Kingdom hasn’t stopped growing each year, and thousands of Europeans have emigrated there to work in hospitals and health centres throughout the country.

Thanks to several friends who are nurses (especially Irene ;)), I’m now ready to summarize the process needed to become a nurse in the United Kingdom.

What’s the pathway to start working?

You might think it’s very complicated, but it’s actually simpler than you might think. There are just three steps:

  • Register as a nurse with the Nursing Midwifery Council (NMC) in the UK.
  • Look for an agency that will send you job offers.
  • Go through an interview and get hired.

It’s that easy! But let’s move onto the details.

Steps for registering yourself with the NMC

You can’t work anywhere in the United Kingdom if you’re part of this association, so you need to pay attention and be patient. The process usually takes between three and four months, but once you’ve got your registration number (PIN), everything will go smoothly so that you’ll find work quickly.

1. Request the printed forms from NMC at the following link: https://forms.nmc-uk.org/Forms/eurequest. You’ll find more information about nursing qualifications outside the UK but inside the EU at this link. The processing fee is £110. In addition, you’ll have to pay the annual dues.

2. When you receive the documentation (at your home outside the UK if you want), you’ll need to get:

1. A notarized copy of your passport.
2. A notarized copy of your certification (or equivalent).
3. Letter of recommendation in English from a previous employer. Original, filled out and duly signed.
4. Criminal record certificate, original.
5. Brief letter of recommendation from one of the workers you mention on your application, written by a supervisor, doctor, director, etc. Signed and stamped. This must also be an original.
6. All of the above must be translated into English by a sworn translator.

3. Fill out and send in the forms. I show one example of them below:

NMC APLICATION.pdf

If you don’t have notarized copies, try to send the original and a copy, and wait for them to return the originals to you at the end of the process.

After sending all the documents (don’t forget anything!), you need to wait between three and four months to finalize the registration process by obtaining your PIN number, which gives you the right to work as a nurse in the UK. This has an annual fee of £120.

Don’t forget to read the NMC guide: http://www.nmc.org.uk/registration/joining-the-register/trained-in-the-eu-or-eea1/

Finding work as a nurse

Once you have your PIN on hand, whether you’re in the United Kingdom or outside of it, you can choose job offers throughout the country (there are quite a few).

If you don’t care about the location, you can look for offers yourself on Google or on any other UK job offer site. Here are some examples of offers for registered nurses.

In many public hospitals, you can ask directly about vacancies in those places.

Nursing salaries are around £12 or £15 an hour. This figure would be between £23,000 and £30,000 gross a year. But demand is fairly high and you might be able to make more, depending on your experience and whether the centre is public or private. For example, agency nurses who are called to various sites to cover temporary vacancies can make up to £30 an hour.

It’s worth mentioning that employees of public hospitals accumulate points for the job sector in other European countries. It goes without saying that in private health centres, salaries are higher, but you don’t accumulate points if you want to go back home and find work there.

What are the interviews like?

Depending on the centre, your rank and your specific responsibilites, they are different. But just so you’re prepared:

  • They’ll first contact you by phone to test your English level.
  • Papers you’ll need to provide: certificates, references, DBS (criminal record in the UK), NMC documentation and PIN, copies of your ID/passport, etc.
  • In person or Skype interview with a nurse, who will ask you a little bit of everything: nursing knowledge, tests involving medicine calculations, written test with case studies in English, etc.

In some cases, the interviews might be in your home country: sometimes agencies send UK nurses to interview various candidates from outside the country (in cases where the job offer has many candidates). And now for a little more information about the written test: they’ll make you write about a case study where you’ll have to come up with a plan for care, saying how you’d act around this patient. In addition, they’ll ask you how you’d react in certain situations, about your experience, etc.

Sometimes they might not ask you for so much information, but it’s better to be prepared just in case.

This is an example of the form they might use to interview a candidate:

Nursing Report

Job agencies

Due to lack of knowledge about the sector, the language, or the country, the majority of these procedures are facilitated by agencies that can help you with the interviews, improve your profile, and advise you about everything during the process.

That’s why it’s good to rely on a trustworthy agency that communicates well and has a large number of vacancies available, so that you can choose the position that best suits you.

global eyes recruitment

In the United Kingdom, there’s GLOBAL EYES RECRUIMENT, with a headquarters in Sutton (in south London). It’s a good way to find work from outside the UK. Global Eyes has a large number of positions for nurses, aides, and doctors, and puts you in contact with different centres depending on your preferences, experience, and English level.

You can do the interviews on Skype if you live outside the United Kingdom, or “face-to-face” if you are already a resident there.

Global Eyes doesn’t charge nurses. It offers its service freely and tries to get the best benefits for you, thanks to its good relationship with hospitals and nursing homes.

When contacted by a candidate, Global Eyes professionals try to help him or her get the position s/he wants, but if s/he doesn’t fulfill the requirements of the centres, they’ll stay in touch because, since they have new offers every week, sometimes something may come up that could interest the candidate. So they offer quality and reliability.

Visit their website to get in touch with them: global-eyes.co.uk

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