Several advertisements promising employment for nurses in countries such as the United Kingdom (UK) without clearing IELTS (International English Language Testing System) or OET (Occupational English Test) are seen regularly. However, most of such promises are misleading and nursing professionals aspiring to relocate abroad should better avoid such advertisements and depend on authorized channels.
Take for instance the experience of Rekha (name changed), a nurse who applied to such an advertisement on social media. As clearing tests such as IELTS and OET which examine English language skills is not easy, Rekha saw a shortcut to shift to the UK.
Rekha and others who responded to the advertisement reached the UK with a visa which was issued based on a ‘certificate of sponsorship’ given by a care home in that country. Holders of this visa are entitled to receive an appointment, but they remained jobless for several months. Most of the nurses who were appointed were paid much lesser than what they were offered. The remaining nurses are still unemployed.
These nurses had paid Rs 10-15 lakh to the agencies which had placed the advertisement to reach the UK. As a large share of this money was borrowed, these nurses cannot return to India.
In other words, much caution has to be employed before applying for openings of nurses abroad. Similarly, cross-check whether the claims made by recruitment agencies are true. Also, never hesitate to say ‘No’ to people who offer forged IELTS and OET certificates with good scores.
First step: Learn the language
IELTS and OET are two exams recognised by the UK and some other nations to analyse the English language skills of nurses. These tests involve reading, listening, speaking and writing. In most countries, a minimum IELTS score of 7 is required for reading, listening and speaking and 6.5 for writing to be appointed as a staff nurse. For OET, the cut-off is Grade B (above 350) for reading, listening and speaking and Grade C Plus (above 300) for writing.
Countries such as Australia have recognised scores in TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) also.
Meanwhile, for employment in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Japan, Finland and Sweden, proficiency in the language of the respective country is required.
Interestingly, a majority of nurses from Kerala prefer OET to IELTS even though the fees for the former are higher. This is because most of the questions in OET are related to the profession and so there is a better chance for success.
Things to note for an overseas job
• Language: The required qualification in English is imperative to shift to countries where the language is spoken. IELTS and OET are recognised by most English-speaking nations. Apply for the job abroad only after earning the necessary score in these tests. However, command over languages such as German, Dutch, Swedish, Finnish and Japanese is necessary while seeking employment in countries where English is not spoken.
• Nursing registration: Each foreign country conducts a qualifying examination for issuing the nursing licence to work there. In the UK, the test is OSCE (Objective Structured Clinical Examination) and in the USA, it is NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination).
• Nursing course: Some countries such as Finland have not recognized nursing courses in India. Nurses heading to these places have to undergo the nursing courses conducted there to practise as a registered nurse.
• A word of caution: If you seek the services of a recruitment agency to find a job abroad, confirm that the firm is genuine. When you receive an offer letter from a hospital, contact the nurses working at the institution and learn about the working conditions there.
• Avoid shortcuts: Care homes in the UK appoint employees from other countries who have not cleared the tests for English proficiency. Nurses who take this route hope to earn a nursing registration after reaching the UK. However, a large number of frauds occur in this process and it would be safer to travel to the UK through the NHS.
This is the second of the series on opportunities for nurses abroad. Read part 1 here: Opportunities galore as Kerala nurses head to Europe