How did I move to the UK as a Nigerian nurse (Steps, costs and tips)?
I as a person believe that medical practitioners, especially doctors and nurses, trained in Nigeria are world-class in their knowledge and technical capacity. This is asserted strongly by the blazing feats many of them have continued to achieve both within and outside the shores of Nigeria. The 7 years and 5 years it takes them respectively to complete their studies alone are one of the longest in the world for starters. In addition, during their practice, the limited/unavailable facilities in many Nigerian hospitals means that they often have to improvise; and in that process of re-engineering methods and sometimes prescriptions, there’s a lot of intellectual activity that goes on with the resultant increase in personal professional capacity.
But after graduation and maybe a few years of basic or intermediate-level practice, most of them want to move to other countries for “greener pastures”. And when they do move to countries that have the needed facilities and support, with their level of training and professional capacity, they shine so bright. As you read this right now, the number of nurses and doctors who have just started the process to move is in the thousands at least. And for most of them, their dream workplace is in the United Kingdom. Their reasons: better work conditions and pay! And they are right: a fresh graduate nurse in the UK gets band 5 pay of about £25,000 (that is about N9.25 million) per year. If you get promoted to band 6, the pay is up to £35,000 (that is about N12.95 million) per year. On the average, a nurse like that would earn about N1.152 million in Nigeria.
So what does it take to move to the UK as a nurse to work? I provide the steps below.
Step 1: Write and pass your IELTS exam
IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System. You need to take the IELTS for UKVI Academic test. You’ll need it to register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council, UK, and also for your visa application. See the minimum score required of you. Most people tend to take preparations BEFORE taking the test lightly; but this is not wise. The current registration fee for the test is N97,000. See whether the cost has changed.
Step 2: Apply to join the register of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), UK
Basically, three (3) steps are involved here:
1. Open an NMC Online account and update your details. A registration fee of £140 (about N51,800) will be required at some point here. Notable documents that will be required include verification of your NMCN license and university/school of nursing results.
2. Once your eligibility has been ascertained and NMC has told you that you need to take the Computer-Based Test (CBT), please proceed to register for the test with their test provider Pearson VUE at a cost of £90 (about N33,300). This is the first of two tests of competence that you are required to take. The test will assess your knowledge of theoretical practice in major areas of nursing including general (adult) nursing, children’s nursing, learning disabilities nursing, mental health nursing, and midwifery. It will cover professional values, communication, nursing decision-making and leadership. You must complete the entire application process within two years of passing the CBT. See the NMC’s guide for the test of competence.
3. Take part 2 of the test of competence – the objective structured clinical examination, OSCE (cost is £794, about N293,780). A practical nursing and midwifery examination, this test can only be taken after successfully passing the CBT and is only available in the UK at a designated test centre. The centres are University of Northampton, Oxford Brookes University and Ulster University. Seeing that this test can only be taken in the UK and you are in Nigeria, there are only two options for you:
Option A: Look for an employer in the UK who is willing and able to sponsor you to come over and work. You must not do this all by yourself. Get an agent to help you if you wish. There are so many agents that are willing to help. You could also simply search online for jobs in the UK. The employer will sponsor you to write the test and it is expected that the sponsorship will formally start from the date of the scheduled OSCE, and you can arrive the UK up to 14 days before this time.
Option B: If you do not have a sponsor but wish to go ahead with your application, there is a provision that allows nurses and midwives to enter the UK on a six-month visitor visa specifically to take the OSCE. You can take this route if you wish. Find out more about visas and immigration on the UK government website.
If you choose option A, I expect you to pass your OSCE and continue in your new job in the UK. If you pass, your employer will issue you a certificate of sponsorship with which you can become fully registered with the NMC, UK (cost is £153). However, to move to the UK to take your OSCE, you’ll need to apply for a UK visa and yes you’ll have to pay for it all by yourself. The sponsorship is only for the OSCE and in addition, your employer will provide you a place to stay upon arrival in the UK for up to 3 or 6 months. If you are applying for a visa, a Tier 2 visa is appropriate. The maximum length of stay under a Tier 2 visa is six years for people who entered the UK on or after 6 April 2011. Individuals who entered the UK under a Tier 2 visa can apply to settle in the UK after five years continuous residency, but must meet certain eligibility criteria in order to be granted indefinite leave to remain (ILR).
You will have gotten on the register of the Nursing and Midwifery Council, UK after making the £153 payment. Ensure that you stay on the register and find your greener pastures.
Finally, don’t forget that moving to a foreign country can be challenging and tasking in every way. If you are married with kids, make adequate arrangements for how they’ll be cared for while you go to work, especially if your spouse will be working too. It costs on average £200 per week to hire a nanny to do that for you.
I wish you the very best!
Cheers to your success!!