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Getting a job

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If you are not a UK citizen, and qualified as a nurse or midwife outside the UK, this page answers some frequently asked questions that should help you to get a job in the UK, in relation to getting a job.

How do I get a job? contains a collection of Careers Advice Articles, and the widest range of nursing Jobs. It may be worth approaching employers who advertise, even if you do not see a post that interests you. It may be that they have other posts, yet to be advertised.

How does clinical grading work?

The UK has a system of clinical grading for nurses and midwives, which aims to allow easy comparison of rates of pay in very different places. Although there are some variations in the way employers interpret the grades, they are broadly defined as follows (nursing posts are listed, but the equivalents apply for midwives):

  • Grade A: Nursing assistant, nursing auxiliary, care assistant, health care assistant … with no training or recognised qualification
  • Grade B: As above, but may hold a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) which will have involved some on the job and classroom tuition.
  • Grade C: State Enrolled Nurse - an old qualification, no longer issued. There are still many enrolled nurses, but many have ‘converted’ to Registered Nurse status. Many others will have earned a higher grade through experience or post-enrolment professional development.
  • Grade D: Basic staff nurse. Registered Nurse (RN), Registered General Nurse (RGN) State Registered Nurse (SRN) plus all the mental health, learning disability and other equivalents. This is the grade given to newly qualified nurses and those returning after a break in service or those changing speciality. An employer would not expect much experience or any post-registration qualifications.
  • Grade E: Staff nurse. Registered Nurse (as above), but an employer would expect either some relevant experience (about a year is typical) or a post registration qualification - such as a clinical course - in the speciality. Can be asked to take charge of the ward/department for a shift, but should not be expected to take continuing responsibility in such a way.
  • Grade F: This may be advertised as senior staff nurse, team leader or junior charge nurse. Whatever the title, the holder will be an experienced nurse, with relevant clinical qualifications, who is willing and able to deputise for the ward sister/charge nurse/manager.
  • Grade G: Charge nurse/sister/ward manager.
  • Grade H: Clinical specialist - an expert in a speciality such as infection control or a clinical manager responsible for several related wards/departments (perhaps two wards, a clinic and a procedures room ..)
  • Grade I: Senior version of H. This is still a clinical grade, so it is the top nursing post within a speciality, and may cover more than one hospital or a wide stretch of community.

Many newer types of post do not fit well into the grading system, such as nurse practitioner, nurse consultant and modern matron. It is useful to check what the employer wants in terms of experience, qualifications and responsibility, and see if the grade seems fair compared to other jobs. Employers are increasingly expecting nurses to have a degree, and for senior posts, a master’s degree or to be ‘working towards one’.

That’s fine - but the salary should recognise this and be a grade higher than the non-degree equivalent. If, however, a degree is ‘an advantage’ or ‘desirable but not essential’, then this should probably be interpreted as an employer expecting hundreds of applications who wants to reduce the numbers!

Does the NMC provide indemnity?

No. ‘Professional Indemnity Insurance’ is not provided by the NMC with registration. Most UK nurses are members of a union, and they provide insurance as part of the membership package. The union with the largest number of qualified nurses is the Royal College of Nursing, Unison and the Community Practitioners and Health Visitors are the other big nursing unions, while many midwives are members of the Royal College of Midwives. Most nurses and midwives are also covered by their employers’ vicarious liability insurance.

At the time of writing, the NMC is considering whether it should be a condition of registration that nurses and midwives have some form of professional indemnity. This is mainly to ensure that those working independently or in private practice have insurance. It is due to make a decision on the matter in December 2002, and if approved, will probably be introduced in mid-2003.

Contact Address

Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)

23 Portland Place,

London, W1B 1PZ

Tel: (+44) 20 7637 7181


This information may change without notice, so you are urged to check with the sources cited in the text.

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