Despite the constant din that drowns it, the human voice is the only sound able to penetrate the layers of any solid to reach its audience. The firm call to a listener constantly pushing , encouraging and sometimes seducing him to open that next door. This video e, even if a whisper, is loudest when it is speaking the truth.
It is that voice that I have always listened to. Amidst the bedlam that characterises modern living, the small still voice has always called out to me. Like an evening breeze wafting the smell of pine trees and romance to my nostrils. Like the stray rest of dawn that pierces through my drab window curtains every Summer morning. Unfazed. Unintimidated.
The sheer audacity to not only dream but wake up and pursue the same with an athlete’s single minded focus. Taking pleasure in the small acts of daily living. Of daily nursing procedures. Winding paths of my career and personal life never once deterred me from the goal labelled BETTER. Elusive sometimes it has been. But it has always felt like BETTER has always waited for me but at the same time hiding from me.
Better nursing standards. Better nursing roles. Better me and a better shot at credible educational opportunities. If you are like me, then the bodacious hum of the human voice is calling unto you and you want better. What better means is very subjective. My better came in the form of Nursing in the United Kingdom.
This article seeks to inform you of my footsteps at every stage. Fall right in and wear my rather ill-fitting shoes. Who knows, maybe to move this mountain, these little stones will count for something someday.
United Kingdom is one of the countries globally that has elevated the profile of a nurse. Unashamed of resting responsibilities on the nurse, UK has made virgin discoveries into what a nurse is when all limitations are withdrawn. Not only does she train her nurses, The Kingdom (Queendom maybe? Haha ) has gone ahead to let nurses practice within laid down schemes of service. If sexy was a profession, nursing in the UK is.
The possibilities are ad infinitum. From the clinical setup, to being a first assistant in theatre to aesthetic nursing, you’ll be limited by yourself and not the lack of empowerment. National Health Service (NHS) offers an aromatic buffet of options to sample from. Private hospitals and care homes challenge one to be more than they ever believed they could be.
The prerequisite is meticulous preparation. Deciding your basic motivation and diving deep into the process that becomes your new normal. Even now, I remind myself why I am in the UK. If money is the only motivation, then I should pack my bags and leave for a better economy. I am spoilt for choice anyway.
The pursuit for money is there though. Like haemoglobin, it is attached to every biconcave corpuscle of my red blood cells. How I decided to go about it led me to finally settle my heart in the land of her Majesty the Queen. But we are not talking about my escapades, are we?
Each choice you make carries with it a truckload of pros and cons. Every NO you say to a job offer allows you an opportunity to say a better YES when it happens. As a very loose translation if you’re interested in career progression, go for NHS hospitals. If you want some instant cash,maybe you want to go into the care home and private hospitals setup. Do your research. Ask people who are genuinely interested in informing you and not recruiting you.
For the nurses that hold specialised Higher National Diplomas, decline offers that do not place you in your area of speciality. Rejection is the very essence of acceptance. You must be able to reject. Be willing to be rejected too. Above everything else, what you’re bringing to the table is a wealth of skills and unmatched ocean of knowledge. You are complete and I want you to have the courage to realize it when negotiating for a job offer.
International English language testing system (IELTS)
This is undoubtedly the elephant in the room. It seeks to show that you have no idea what English as a language is. Yes I’m kidding. It tests you in Speaking, Reading, Writing and Listening.
Booking the correct exam is as critical as air is to a plant. Without it it wilts and dies. A sad, lonely plant. An unspoken plant. We will never know if it had babies. Oh poor plant…
Book the UKVI academic IELTS. The only difference between this and the other Academic IELTS is the presence of United Kingdom Visas and Immigration number (UKVI). For some weird reason, to have your visa processed at the Embassy you’ll need a UKVI reference number.
If you have had a previous satisfactory Academic IELTS, you will still need to sit for a general UKVI Ielts to facilitate your visa application and processing. To avoid this double whammy, why not just sit for the UKVI academic IELTS? More information is found on www.nmc.org.uk/registration
Talking of which, use this same website to create an account ( use your email) with which to communicate with the Nursing and Midwifery Council of the UK (NMC).
Competence Based Test Exam (CBT)
This is an online, computer generated exam. It is offered by Pearson Vue at 9 West Building in Westlands. Set at multiple choice questions of 120 in 2 hours, it covers the entire nursing process according to the NMC. The reason is because NMC UK does not have the ‘Diagnosis’ part of the Nursing Process. Think about Assessment, Planning, Implementation and Evaluation.
Please note however that the Nursing setup in United Kingdom differs in that you would need to do a different CBT exam for Midwifery if your target is to work in a Maternity set up.
Tip: Most recruitment agencies will not tell you about this. They will let you think you can work anywhere. As a midwife, ask about the Maternity department and how to get there. They even pay a higher starting salary!
You would need a different CBT if your goal is mental health Nursing. They managed to split the pie of nursing into small pieces which when whipped together, materialize into a giant pizza.
Get That Job
You really will need an agency to help you break down the contracts into small chewable bits. I will not recommend any agency at this point. I suggest you use your search engine to look for ‘Agencies that recruit nurses in UK.’ The choices are as many as the blinking stars in heaven.
Your agency should be able to advise you on where to live, the salary, the expectations and any other hidden clauses in your contract.
Decide where you want to live. England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are what makes up the United Kingdom. Perhaps the most famous destination is London. Mainly because when one hears of UK while in Kenya, we all tend to think of London and nothing else. How mistaken I equally was!
Again, do you want to be a city darling or a rural town specialist? Take your time. Nurses are in high demand in UK and you’ll not regret taking your sweet time to sign a potential contract.
Do not be intimidated into accepting a job offer. The agents are trained to make their offers sound like the dreams you’ve always had. Majority are fantasies, despise them.
Verification of Academic Documents
With the account you registered at NMC, you can now approach the Nursing Council of Kenya (NCK) and ask them to send your papers to NMC, UK. This is done at a fee payable via mobile money wallet at the NCK offices. Once received, verification should take about two weeks. NMC will write to you with what is called a Decision Letter.
It refers to official communique from the Nursing and Midwifery Council of United Kingdom inviting you to the UK to sit the next part of the registration exam called the Objective structured clinical exam (OSCE). You are even bound to get more serious job offers if you already have a Decision Letter!
I think we have been chained by people who went ahead of us so much that we do not know we can do this by ourselves. We have been shackled to the chains of local agencies which charge us an arm, a leg and a slice of the left kidney to help us get here. So imbued we are in the politics of ‘godfather’ that we forget the power that we possess in our very hands.
It is those cages that have you and I detained and deeply pained that I seek to break. You can do this.
After a job offer, you will get what is termed as a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS). The CoS is a work permit allowing you to live and work in the UK. For the purposes of this blogpost, your work permit is issued under the General Occupation Shortage List. That qualifies you for a Tier 2 Visa. With the CoS, you can apply for Visa.
I reiterate the need for a good agency. The agency should facilitate all your visa fees by your employer. Perhaps this is where I mention that a credible A-rated employer will pay your agency for your sake. Therefore you will not need to pay any fees to the agency. Watch out however for the fine print of your contract.
There must be a clause that binds you to your employer for a period of time. Also check out if you would need to pay some money to your employer if you left them before your contract expires.
You will have all paperwork in order because you’re an amazing nurse by nature. If you are married, please supply your marriage certificate. I insist on veracity. Tell the truth about you. Do not worry about your finances. Your CoS already has it covered. The application for a Visa is carried out by TLS Contact Centre in 9 West Building, Westlands. You will get the visa I have no doubts.
Welcome to The UK
Congratulations on your Visa. The ocean and the sea are calling out for you. Perhaps you want to do a farewell party before this? Maybe tell us hopeless things like Majuu here I come. Ha ha. However if you’re me, just pack your books, your treasured possessions and leave. You can tell I am too good at goodbyes, no? Come on, stop breaking my heart. Insert a smiling emoji here…
Have your itinerary clear to a fault. As I strode down the steps of the baggage bay Aberdeen International Airport; suitcase in hand and a backpack strapped on my tired shoulders, the last thing I wanted was a no show by my agency staffs. It happened.
You will have a practical exam as I had intimated earlier in one of my articles. It will be booked by your employer. You will have to be trained for it and finally take it at a centre near you. If your employer is as adventurous as mine was, you might find yourself in Belfast, Northern Ireland taking the exam all the way from your chosen work station.
This is when you will receive your license. It is known as a Personal Identification Number (PIN). You now carry with you expert power to exercise and demonstrate the NMC Code of Conduct.
Having listened to that bold voice that dared me to dream, I haven’t once stopped. I have learnt I can as well be a student too. I can absorb as much nursing education as possible. I can learn the ways of my mentors from Kenya to the UK. I am still learning. I endeavour to raise the profile of the Kenyan nurse and I will not do it by sitting pretty and watching my painted nails dry. I must put in the work. You too.