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Nursing in the UK: my advice for international nurses

A Nigerian nurse who has settled in England explains how she helps others do the same
Eunice Ezeani

A Nigerian nurse who has settled in England explains how she helps others do the same

An overseas nurse who has a successful career in the UK is now helping others to follow in her footsteps.

When youve been there, you understand it better, says Eunice Ezeani, who is originally from Nigeria.

Sharing my experiences of working in the UK will encourage people to expand their horizons

Ive been through it, I know how it was and now Im able to pass that knowledge on to others, making it easier for them.

Im not saying something from an abstract point of view it is based on my own experiences.

Nursing was something Ms Ezeani always wanted to do. At secondary school, I was made

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A Nigerian nurse who has settled in England explains how she helps others do the same


Eunice Ezeani: ‘Most people just need a little encouragement, then they can be independent’

An overseas nurse who has a successful career in the UK is now helping others to follow in her footsteps.

‘When you’ve been there, you understand it better,’ says Eunice Ezeani, who is originally from Nigeria.

Sharing my experiences of working in the UK will encourage people to expand their horizons

‘I’ve been through it, I know how it was and now I’m able to pass that knowledge on to others, making it easier for them.

‘I’m not saying something from an abstract point of view – it is based on my own experiences.’

Nursing was something Ms Ezeani always wanted to do. ‘At secondary school, I was made health prefect because of the way I did first aid,’ she recalls.

She qualified in adult nursing in 2005 and came to the UK in 2014 to complete a year-long nursing degree at the University of Sunderland. ‘I wanted to widen my experience and expand my horizons,’ she says.

While working as a carer, Ms Ezeani explored what she needed to do to be able to practise as a nurse here.

Overseas nurses who want to register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council have to complete a three-stage competence test. They must pass an English language test before sitting a computer-based multiple-choice exam that covers general nursing knowledge.

Support to take the objective structured clinical exam

Having successfully completed these two stages, Ms Ezeani faced the objective structured clinical examination (OSCE). This involves six separate stations using simulated patients in a clinical setting; four stations test the candidate’s knowledge and understanding of the assessment, planning, implementation and evaluation of care, and the remaining two assess clinical skills.

‘I didn’t want to do this exam without proper training,’ says Ms Ezeani. ‘Some trusts will train you, while others won’t.' Following a recommendation, she successfully applied to join Kettering Hospital, knowing they had an excellent reputation for supporting their overseas staff through the process.

‘Here you have intense training, with a proper induction to the hospital and the local area, to help you settle in,’ she says.

After some problems with a hotel she had booked, one of her colleagues offered to put her up. ‘They were so accommodating, that’s how I really fell in love with the place,’ says Ms Ezeani. ‘People are always there to help you and you don’t feel alone. Everyone is pulling together. It makes working here very easy.’

I had to get used to the cultural differences that affect nursing practice 

With a 100% success rate for registering its overseas nurses, Kettering Hospital aims to ensure that candidates are as prepared as possible for their exams.

‘You are practising and learning every day,’ says Ms Ezeani. ‘It’s all about how you apply your practice. We may know how to do these things but it’s how we relate to and communicate with the patient.

'When you are prepared for an exam so thoroughly, you’re ready. You’re not worried because you’ve been taught it all.’ 

‘The methods and procedures used in hospitals vary enormously. When I first came over, getting used to patients’ accents was tricky’

Eunice Ezeani, adult nurse at Kettering Hosptial, and originally from Nigeria

Hearing the news that she had been successful was a dream come true, says Ms Ezeani. ‘I was over the moon,’ she says. After working on orthopaedic and surgery wards, she is now a sister working in practice development, where she is involved in training internationally recruited nurses who come from all over the world.

‘When we aren’t training them directly, we visit them on the ward to give them direct support,’ she says. ‘It makes a difference. Most people just need a little encouragement, then they can be independent.’

While much of nursing remains the same wherever it is practised, she says there are cultural differences. ‘The methods and procedures used in hospitals vary enormously. When I first came over, getting used to patients’ accents was tricky. I’ve never travelled overseas before, so it was hard, and I really had to listen carefully.’

Nurses also have more responsibility here, she says. ‘We have to use our clinical judgement a lot more in the UK. We oversee the patient and coordinate all their care.’

In practice, this means dealing with lots of different professions, from physiotherapists to pharmacists, doctors and specialist teams. ‘When a patient develops a new symptom, for example, the nurse is responsible for identifying the most relevant practitioner who can intervene to improve their health and well-being,’ she says. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted OSCE testing

All three OSCE test centres – operated by Oxford Brookes University, the University of Northampton and Ulster University – are temporarily suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic.

View our COVID-19 resources centre

‘We have people who arrived a few weeks before the lockdown began, but we’re looking after them,’ says Ms Ezeani.

Having at first thought Kettering might be too small and parochial a place to settle, Ms Ezeani suggests others ‘look beyond the outward appearance’ of towns or smaller cities.

‘This is a very welcoming community and it has everything you need. The quality of life is much better than in a big city.’


Lynne Pearce is a health journalist

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