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Career advice for overseas nurses working in the UK

Published on: 13 Jul 2021

Band 6 charge nurse Anoop Raghunath shares his career advice for overseas nurses working in the UK.

Anoop Raghunath

After qualifying as a nurse in India in 2009, I came to the UK two years later having passed my IELTS (international English language testing system) exam.

My first placement in England was in a nursing home, where I did my training to become a registered nurse, joining the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) register in March 2012.

I worked in another nursing home whilst applying for jobs in the NHS, and in 2014 I secured a role as a Band 5 staff nurse in the emergency assessment unit at Oxford University Hospitals.

Promoted to a Band 6 charge nurse post just 18 months later, I was the only nurse from an Asian background to apply for the role.

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I am now in the final modules of my master’s degree in advanced clinical practice and am on track to become an advanced clinical practitioner in the emergency assessment unit – the first person in my department to start advanced clinical practice training.

Here are my top tips for overseas nurses on how to advance your career in the UK.

Advance your career as an overseas nurse working in the UK

  • Do your research

Looking into career opportunities will help you learn more about the wide range of nursing roles available. Doing some research on advanced practice and speaking to other clinical practitioners in advanced roles inspired me, boosting my confidence to take my nursing career to the next level

  • Set yourself goals

Think about where you would like to be in five years’ time and work out what you need to do to get there. Why not aim high? If you want to be a chief nurse, what skills and knowledge do you need for this role, and how can you get them?

  • Seek support

Good role models and coaches can play an important part in advising and guiding you to make sure you are on the right path. If you want to become an advanced practitioner, ask if you can shadow somebody in the role for a day to see if it may be a good fit for you. And if you are considering doing a master’s degree, get support from your manager – this takes a lot of hard work, so support in the workplace is key.

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  • Ask about apprenticeship opportunities

I successfully applied for an apprenticeship at the trust to do my master’s degree. Oxford University Hospitals has an apprenticeship team that links with Oxford Brookes University, so find out if anything similar is available at your workplace. My course fees are paid for by the apprenticeship team and my employer gives me 7.5 hours of paid study leave each week until I finish my dissertation.

  • Communicate with others

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you want to know something, don’t be embarrassed to ask; it doesn't mean you are failing, it just shows you are keen to learn. Talk to colleagues, both in nursing and the wider multidisciplinary team, about what their roles involve as you can learn different skills from different people. And ask about sponsorship and apprenticeship opportunities in your workplace that may be available to you.

  • Be brave and don’t give up

It may take months or years to gain the knowledge and skills you need to reach your goals, so stay focused on your dreams and what you want to achieve. You have as much right to progress your career as anyone else, so believe in yourself and know that you can become the nurse you want to be.

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This is an abridged version of the article How never to let racism hold back your nursing career which was first published in Nursing Standard.

Read more careers articles on Nursing Standard