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Every opportunity to succeed

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Swansea university’s skills nurse tutor, Rebecca Dowle, on why it’s important to give international nurses the same opportunites as those from the UK. 

In my previous role as an Education Liaison Nurse (ELN) and my current role as a Clinical Skills Tutor for the University the words ‘we need to give students every opportunity to succeed’ must have passed my lips hundreds of times. 

The aim is to support and inform students through the assessment process in order to offer them the best chance of qualifying whilst still ensuring a quality workforce. There is parity across the nation as standards are audited by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

My question is, are we affording our international colleagues the same opportunities as our British students?

“This lack of consistency could affect the IEN’s chances of success, I was not the only one concerned and frustrated by this.”

My role with the Internationally Educated Nurses (IEN) as an ELN was to offer pastoral support and to facilitate a training programme to prepare them for part two of their NMC test of competence, the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE).

The Train the Trainer course at the test centres offers an overview of what would be expected of the candidates; however very little detail is given. Candidates sign a confidentiality clause when they attend the test centre meaning that only the outcome can be shared with others, not their actual experience resulting in a lack of clarity of what is expected for facilitators.

A facilitator’s day was arranged by Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to share their knowledge, with anyone with a vested interest UK wide, about how they prepare their candidates for the OSCE.

Being able to meet others who were at different stages of the process was invaluable and offered credible insight to the assessment. The level of verbalisation, for example, was something which I was not aware of and was quite shocked by. It became apparent that we had differing expectations of the process and hence were supporting our IEN’s in varying ways.

“At a time when staff shortages and the potential effects of Brexit on staffing in healthcare are in the media we need to ensure that we are doing everything possible…”

This lack of consistency could affect the IEN’s chances of success, I was not the only one concerned and frustrated by this.

One thing which I wasn’t prepared for was the huge feeling of responsibility for the candidates. The commitment that they make to the UK has to be reflected in our commitment to them. I know others on the facilitators’ day felt the same.

They have travelled thousands of miles leaving family and friends to be here, we must be prepared and we must give them every opportunity to succeed. At a time when staff shortages and the potential effects of Brexit on staffing in healthcare are in the media we need to ensure that we are doing everything possible to support these qualified nurses to gain registration in this country.

They are experienced, dedicated and highly motivated. If the test centres were able to be more open regarding expectations and process I am sure the pass rate would be higher expediting improvement in numbers of our workforce without affecting quality.

The skills would still need to be passed at the required standard, where is the harm in sharing information more readily to prepare for the test?

Rebecca Dowle is the Clinical Skills Nurse Tutor for Swansea University, and has been nursing for 30 years. She qualified as a Registered General Nurse in 1990 and is currently studying for a Masters in Education for the Health Professions. Her experience includes Elderly Care, Community, Recovery and Education Liaison Nurse. 

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Thank you for this article, it perfectly describes my journey, trying to register as a nurse in the UK. I have already failed my first OSCE, and to be honest I don't know if I will pass the 2nd one. The information that we are given really does not prepare you for what you need in the exam and the criteria for the exam is not available, so we have to go in there blind and hope for the best. Makes no sense, the country is desperate for nurses and we are all extremely qualified, so then why not train, support and guide us so that we too can contribute to "our nursing profession" Feeling very disillusioned....

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