When I started the process of applying for my UK nursing license, it was hard to find the information I was looking for or anyone who had been through the same experience as an American. I had many hours of headache, what-ifs, and wondering what things would be like. There was one nursing blog I found after I took my OSCE (objective structured clinical examination) which is the last step in getting the nursing pin. The blog does not exist anymore but at the time it was a life saver. This help came after being devastated that Continental Nurse would not be able to sponsor my visa after I had already quit my job in the US.
Below are 4 agencies that I’ve had personal experience with when I was getting help to find a job in the UK. All of these agencies provide help and support through the entire process from the start of getting your nursing license, securing a job, work visas, flights, and even finding accommodation. The order is not in any order of preference but I do explain how I was involved with each and which I decided to go with.
1. TTM Healthcare
TTM Healthcare has headquarters in Ireland that helps place people in healthcare jobs around Ireland, Northern Ireland, Britain, and the Middle East. This is not just for nurses either.
This was the agency I actually went with in the end that helped me secure a job the fastest. I wanted to be close to London and I really preferred to work in the Operating Room (Theatres, as they call them in the UK). They gave me 2 choices of hospitals that they partnered with that met my requests. I sent some of my information, application, resume and they told me the hospital I chose was interested in sponsoring me to work there.
I had a medication calculation test via Skype while the agency watched me take it using no calculator or outside help. Once I passed the med calculation test from the hospital, I was set up with a Skype interview. I accepted a position at East Surrey Hospital in theatres and I loved it! It took a couple of months to do the certificate of sponsorship, and get mine and my husband’s work visas. But in the end we finally got there!
2. Kate Cowhig International Healthcare Recruitment
Kate Cowhig is another company with a main base in Ireland but places nurses in Ireland and the UK.
I worked closely with this company as well. They gave me a few options of hospitals that were most relatively close to London, and one in Oxford. I went through the same processes as I did with TTM as far as doing a drug calculation test and interviewing via Skype with The Princess Alexandra Hospital because they had a theatre position available. I got an offer from this hospital too. I would have been happy to work at this one but in the end TTM got me the secured sponsorship faster. But Kate Cowhig was honestly amazing and I would recommend for anyone to use.
3. MMA Healthcare Recruitment
MMA is located in England and help find jobs throughout the UK including Northern Ireland. The people I had contact with were very friendly. The catch with MMA is they offer positions with private hospitals. I honestly wanted to work in a NHS (National Health Service) public hospital because I wanted to learn how a public healthcare system worked. I would have interviewed with one of the Ramsay Healthcare UK hospitals if I chose to go this route.
4. Continental Nurse
Continental Nurse is in the UK that places nurses throughout the UK.
This was the company that helped with through the entire process of getting my UK nursing pin although when I finally got pinned, they could not sponsor me because of an audit going on from the government. Now they have been back and running and can offer again. I was drawn to this company originally because first of all, it was the only one I could find online at the time, and secondly, they provided short contracts of about 3 months at hospitals. I only had to do 3 assignments as part of the contract (this was back in 2018, things may have changed since then). This was ideal for us, and they were awesome at getting me through all the steps.
I would go with any of these nursing agencies above in getting licensed and finding your dream job in the UK. It took me about 1 year from taking the first English test, to flying over and starting to work. It was a rollercoaster of emotions but it finally happened.
I worked with some of the greatest nurses, doctors, operating department practitioners, anaesthetists, and healthcare assistants ever. These people took me in and taught me like I was one of their own and I made some lasting friends along the way. I was literally the only American I met in the whole hospital. I stayed a year and a half and was very sad to leave. I was thrown a going-away party/baby shower before I left with an English afternoon tea theme! My experience there will always be remembered and cherished.
If you are interested in pursuing nursing overseas in the UK, do not hesitate to contact any or all of these agencies! I hope this provides some help to those adventurous nurses out there. Check out my other nursing related posts on some differences and the process of getting licensed here!