Becoming a certified nurse in the UK as a Nigerian nurse offers exciting career prospects but requires meeting stringent requirements. This guide provides a comprehensive, up-to-date overview of the step-by-step process in 2024.
Choosing a Nursing Specialty
The first step is deciding your nursing specialty:
- Adult nursing
- Mental health nursing
- Learning disabilities nursing
- Children’s nursing
Dual field degrees covering two specialties are also available. Once qualified, you can work anywhere in the UK.
To get qualified, you typically need:
- 2-3 A-Levels or equivalent qualifications like BTECs or T Levels
- GCSEs including English, Maths, Science
- Some universities need specific A-Level or equivalent subjects like Biology or Psychology
Full-time nursing degrees last 3-4 years, longer if part-time. Accelerated 2 year courses are available if you have a relevant degree. Entry requirements vary per university so check individually. Consider open days to learn more.
Funding Your Studies
In England, most nursing students access the standard student finance system, not NHS bursaries. See the Funding Clinic for updates.
Registering with the NMC
To work in the UK, nurses must register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). This involves:
- Meeting language requirements
- Passing an online test
- Passing a practical exam in the UK
Meeting Language Requirements
You need to prove English language skills via:
- IELTS Academic with minimum scores of 7 in each section and 6.5 in writing
- OET with grade B in all sections and C+ in writing
- Proof of previous registration and practice for 1 year minimum where English was required and spoken
Passing the Online Test
The Computer Based Test (CBT) covers:
- Professional values
- Communication and interpersonal skills
- Nursing procedures
It costs £83 and results are usually available after 48 hours.
Passing the Practical Exam
The Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) tests your clinical and practical skills via simulations with actors in dedicated test centres in the UK.You’ll demonstrate skills like:
- Communicating clearly with patients
- Taking observations
- Administering injections
Applying for Nursing Jobs
Once fully qualified and NMC registered, start applying for Band 5 registered nurse roles. Use job sites and contact hospitals directly.The NHS, private hospitals, GP surgeries, and more employ nurses across the UK. With experience, you can specialize further via additional training. As an NMC registered nurse, you can work flexibly via nursing agencies to control your hours and workplace.
Average Nursing Salaries
As a newly qualified Band 5 Nurse, expect approximately £28,000 annually in England, rising yearly. Salaries vary across the UK with London offering premium rates.With specialization and promotions over time, salaries can reach £80,000 or more.
As an Nigerian nurse, you’ll need a Tier 2 Work Visa valid for up to 5 years with unlimited renewals. Employers sponsor visas.To get sponsored:
- Prove qualifications
- Get NMC registration
- Pass visa interviews
Visa processing takes 8-12 weeks. Employers usually provide relocation support.
Step-By-Step Process for Nigerian Nurses
Follow this step-by-step process to become a certified nurse in the UK:
Step 1: Decide Your Nursing Specialty
Choose one of the main four fields of nursing:
- Adult nursing – physical and mental care for adults.
- Mental health nursing – supporting mental wellbeing.
- Learning disabilities nursing – helping those with learning or intellectual disabilities.
- Children’s nursing – care for those aged 0-18 years.
Consider studying a dual field degree to specialize in two fields, maximizing scope of practice.
Step 2: Check Entry Requirements
Typical requirements are:
- 2-3 A-Levels or equivalent level 3 qualifications like BTECs/T Levels
- GCSEs in English, Maths and Science
- Some universities need specific subjects like Biology
Entry requirements vary per university so check individually via UCAS.Access courses and foundation years offer alternatives if you don’t meet requirements.
Step 3: Choose a University
Research different nursing degree courses and universities. Consider:
- Course specialties and modules
- Teaching reputation
- Placement opportunities
- Costs – check funding availability
Shortlist your top five choices. Attend open days to help decide.
Step 4: Submit UCAS Application
Apply for your nursing degree via the UCAS system. The application involves:
- Personal details
- Personal statement
The application costs £26.50 for up to five course choices.
Step 5: Fund Your Studies
As an international student, expect annual tuition fees of £10,000-£15,000.Funding options include:
- Student loans from Nigerian banks
- Commonwealth Shared Scholarships
- University scholarships and bursaries
See the British Council for more funding details.
Step 6: Complete Your Nursing Degree
Typical course elements are:Theoretical Study
- Anatomy and physiology
- Healthcare management
- Social policy
- Public health
- Nursing theory and process
Practical PlacementsPlacements allow developing practical nursing skills via:
AssessmentsAssessments test both theoretical and practical learning via:
- Written exams
- Coursework essays
- Practical observations
- Portfolios and presentations
Expect around 50% theory and 50% supervised practice.
Step 7: Apply for NMC Registration
To work as a nurse in the UK, you must register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council. Follow their registration process by:
1. Creating an online accountProvide:
- Proof of identity
- Contact and qualification details
2. Proving your English language abilities
Submit evidence of English skills via:
- IELTS/OET certificates
- Proof of previous registration where English was required
3. Paying the application feeThe application costs £140 paid via online payment.
4. Submitting your supporting documentsProvide documents showing:
- Nursing education and training
- Previous registrations
- Good physical and mental health
- Good character e.g. police clearance
5. Passing your online test
The CBT exam covers nursing knowledge, values and skills.6. Passing your practical examThe OSCE assesses your hands-on nursing skills and judgement via simulations.
Step 8: Search for Nursing Jobs
Step 9: Prepare Visa Application
As a non-EU national, you’ll need a work visa to take up nursing jobs in the UK.The main visa route is the Skilled Worker Visa with:
- £1,270 application fee
- £624 annual healthcare surcharge
To get sponsored for a visa:
1. Get a job offer
Employers must be Home Office approved sponsors able to provide certificates of sponsorship.
2. Prove competency
Submit qualifications, registrations and references when applying.
3. Pass visa interviews
Be prepared to prove credentials, language abilities and commitment to role. Processing takes 8-12 weeks so apply well in advance of job start dates.
Step 10: Relocate to the UK
Once your visa is approved, prepare for your move to the UK.
- Book flights – employers often reimburse costs
- Arrange accommodation – short term options include hotels and AirBnB
- Ship essential belongings
- Set up UK bank accounts
- Apply for National Insurance and proof of right to work
Many employers also offer relocation support.
Opportunities for Nigerian Nurses in the UK
The UK offers Nigerian nurses a wealth of opportunities.
1. Career Progression
The UK provides clear nursing career pathways allowing specializing and progressing into advanced roles.Typical pathways include:
- Specialist nurse – 1-2 years of experience allows specializing in areas like A&E, theatre or paediatrics
- Advanced nurse – around 3-5 years experience enables advancing into leadership roles
- Consultant nurse – 5-7 years experience allows becoming clinical experts and consultants
- Matrons and managers – significant experience enables managing whole departments and facilities
2. Competitive Salaries
The UK offers far higher nursing pay than Nigeria.Newly qualified nurses earn approximately:
- Nigeria – ₦50,000 (£87) per month
- UK – £28,000 (£2,300) per month
With allowances, overtime and experience, nurses earn:
- Nigeria – ₦150,000 (£260) per month
- UK – £35,000+ (£2,900) per month
Enhanced rates apply for high demand specialties like A&E and theatre.
3. World-Class Training
The UK provides world-leading nurse training honing clinical expertise plus options to specialize.Resources like medical simulators, online libraries and research networks support learning. UK experience leads to international recognition of capabilities and qualifications.
4. Flexible Working
UK nurses can work flexibly to improve work-life balance. Options include:
- Part time – around 60% of nurses work 30-35 hours per week
- Rotational – working a proportion of nights/weekends
- Job sharing – splitting shifts between two nurses
- Agency work – choosing locations and shifts
Most employers actively support flexible working for retention.
5. Generous Benefits
As NHS employees, nurses get significant benefits including:
- 27-33 days annual leave plus public holidays
- Enhanced sick pay and maternity/paternity leave
- Discounted shopping, travel and health insurance
- Highly subsidized mortgage schemes
- Excellent pension contributions
Benefits improve yearly in most NHS trusts.
6. Clear Career Framework
The NHS provides a structured career framework for nursing. This supports planning and progressing through defined bands:
Band 5 – newly qualified nurse
Band 6 – specialist or senior staff nurse
Band 7 – ward managers and clinical team leaders
Band 8a-c – senior managers and matrons
Band 9 – directors of nursingHigher bands bring substantially increased pay, responsibilities and benefits.
So if becoming a British nurse is your goal, follow this guide to make the process straightforward in 2024. With dedication and the right support, your nursing career can thrive as you embrace this new chapter.
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