Lots of Paperwork and Patience!
When I was a senior in nursing school (January 2017), I decided that I definitely wanted to be a nurse in the UK. I had been toying with the idea of working in the UK, but I decided to go big and just do it. I have to make life a little difficult, right? haha. If i hated it, I could just go back home and work in pediatrics in St. Louis.
I googled how I could make my dream into a reality. An agency came up right away. I emailed them and asked how to get everything started. They were beyond friendly and eager to assist me. I was told that I needed at least a year of experience in the United States before I could apply. It wasn’t the agency’s requirement, but was the UK’s requirement. I was bummed I had to wait a year. I just thought as long as you had your license you could go anywhere. I was really clueless looking back haha.
I worked for a little over a year on an oncology ward in St.Louis, Missouri. My colleagues all knew I would be leaving to work in the UK and they were always so supportive. I was so lucky to have them. The agency would also get in touch with me every so often to see how I was doing, which was really nice.
I knew once my one year of experience arrived, I would take my computer-based theory exam. It was an exam required to work in the UK and you can take that in your home country. I started studying for that while I was getting my year of experience, so as soon as I got my experience in, I could just take it. I was so thrilled when I found out I passed it. I took that exam around August of 2018.
The agency told me that the UK requires you to fill out an application online. Basically this fancy application is to apply to work in the United Kingdom- not a particular hospital. It’s very lengthy and includes all background checks, references.. you know. Once you submit it, the UK might not start looking at it until 6 weeks later because so many people are sending in applications. It only took two months for mine to get approved, so I was pretty happy about that. The agency also sent an application I had filled out (a different one) to a hospital I picked, and they hired me!
I had to take one more exam in order to be an official nurse in the UK: the OSCE. It’s a 6 station practical that you take in the UK. Once you pass that, you are registered nurse in the UK! Woohoo!! You are considered a band 5 nurse- which is just like your basic registered nurse in the US.
I started working in March of 2019 and have really been enjoying Cambridge. It seems like it has been a long journey to get here, but it has been so worth it. You just have to be patient with all of the paperwork and it processing- I think that’s the worst part. Once you are offered the job, you get a visa and a biometric residence permit- you’re good to go!