Are you a foreign nurse who wants to work in the Netherlands? If so, you might be wondering how to become a nurse in this beautiful and progressive country. In this guide, we will explain everything you need to know about the requirements, procedures, and benefits of nursing in the Netherlands.
Why work as a nurse in the Netherlands?
The Netherlands is a great place to work as a nurse, and at the moment, it is really in need of more nursing staff. According to the International Council of Nurses, the Netherlands has one of the lowest ratios of nurses to the population in Europe, and the demand for nurses is expected to increase in the future due to the aging population and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Working as a nurse in the Netherlands has many advantages, such as:
1. An excellent salary: The average income for a registered nurse working in a Dutch hospital ranges from 2600 euros to 3700 euros per month, depending on your experience, specialty, and working hours.
2. A 36-hour workweek: The Netherlands has one of the shortest working weeks in the world, which means more time for yourself and your family.
3. A non-hierarchical workplace culture: Nurses in the Netherlands have a high level of autonomy and responsibility, and are involved in decision-making and governance frameworks to improve service quality.
4. A variety of career opportunities: Nurses in the Netherlands can choose from many specialties and fields of practice, and can also pursue further education and training to advance their careers.
5. A fantastic quality of life: The Netherlands is known for its cycling culture, its tolerant and diverse society, its rich history and culture, and its high standards of living.
What are the requirements to become a nurse in the Netherlands?
To become a nurse in the Netherlands, you must meet the following requirements:
1. A European nursing degree: If you have a nursing degree from a European country, you can apply for the BIG register, which is the official list of healthcare professionals in the Netherlands. Being on the BIG register allows you to use the protected title of “nurse” and to perform certain tasks and procedures that are reserved for registered nurses.
2. A non-European nursing degree: If you have a nursing degree from a non-European country, you must have it validated by the International Credential Evaluation (IDW), which is an organization that assesses the equivalence of foreign diplomas and qualifications. The validation process can take up to four weeks to complete.
3. A language proficiency: You must also have a good command of either English or German, at least at the A2 level, which is the basic level of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). Some employers may also require you to learn Dutch, which is the official language of the Netherlands.
4. A work permit or a European nationality: You must also have a valid work permit or a European passport to work legally in the Netherlands. If you are from a non-EU country, you may need to apply for a residence permit and a work visa, which can be done through your employer or a recruitment agency.
How to apply for the BIG register as a foreign nurse?
The BIG register is the key to working as a nurse in the Netherlands. It is a central and official register of healthcare professionals that is maintained by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. To apply for the BIG register as a foreign nurse, you need to follow these steps:
Check if your profession has a protected title in the Netherlands. Only certain professions in healthcare have a protected title under the Individual Healthcare Act (Wet op de beroepen in de Individuele Gezondheidszorg, BIG). These professions are clinical technologist, dentist, doctor, health psychologist, midwife, nurse, pharmacist, physiotherapist, physician assistant, psychotherapist, registered dental hygienist, and remedial educationalist. If your profession is not on this list, you do not need to register in the BIG register, but you may need to meet other requirements from your employer or the Dutch Healthcare Authority (NZa).
Gather the necessary documents for your application. You will need to provide the following documents to the BIG register:
1. A copy of your passport or identity card
2. A copy of your diploma or certificate of your nursing education
3. A declaration of competence from your nursing school or employer
4. A proof of your language proficiency in English or German
5. A certificate of good conduct from your country of origin
6. A proof of payment of the application fee, which is 85 euros for EU applicants and 140 euros for non-EU applicants
Submit your application online or by mail. You can fill out the online application form on the BIG register website, or you can download the paper form and send it by mail to the following address:
6401 DR Heerlen
Wait for the assessment of your application. The BIG register will review your application and check if your diploma and qualifications are equivalent to the Dutch standards. This process can take up to three months for EU applicants and up to six months for non-EU applicants. If your application is approved, you will receive a confirmation letter and a registration number. If your application is rejected, you will receive a letter explaining the reasons and the possible options to appeal or to take additional courses or exams.
How to find a job as a nurse in the Netherlands?
Once you are registered in the BIG register, you can start looking for a job as a nurse in the Netherlands. There are several ways to find a job, such as:
You can use online platforms and websites that specialize in healthcare jobs, such as Indeed, Monsterboard, Nationale Vacaturebank, ZorgpleinNoord, and ZorgSelect. You can also check the websites of hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and other healthcare organizations that may have vacancies for nurses.
Contacting a recruitment agency
You can also contact a recruitment agency that can help you find a suitable job and assist you with the administrative and legal procedures. Some examples of recruitment agencies that specialize in healthcare are EMTG, TMI, Korint, and MediCentraal.
Networking and referrals
You can also use your personal and professional network to find a job as a nurse in the Netherlands. You can join online groups and forums for nurses, attend events and workshops, and ask for recommendations and referrals from your colleagues, friends, or family.
Working as a nurse in the Netherlands can be a rewarding and fulfilling career choice. However, it also requires meeting certain requirements, following certain procedures, and adapting to a new culture and environment. We hope that this guide has given you a clear overview of how to become a nurse in the Netherlands as a foreign nurse. If you have any questions or need any help, feel free to contact us or visit our website for more information.