...BlogsA journey of opportunities: unlocking the fulfilling world of NHS employment for Nurses 
A journey of opportunities: unlocking the fulfilling world of NHS employment for Nurses 


Are you planning a career in the UK working for the NHS as an internationally trained Nurse? 

In the busy world of healthcare, the National Health Service (NHS) offers plenty of opportunities for aspiring workers.  Over the years, the NHS has welcomed thousands of international healthcare professionals, and provided exciting and rewarding careers, helping these professionals achieve their dream of working in the UK. The NHS provides professional development, as well as support for your family as you settle into to work and life in the UK.  

The NHS is made up of over 200 Trusts across the UK ('Trust' is the term used by the NHS for hospitals that provide healthcare services). In the UK, NHS Trusts recognise OET as proof of English language proficiency for doctors, nurses and allied healthcare professionals, which means that you can share your OET result with NHS trusts directly when applying for work.  

One organisation that supports internationally educated healthcare professionals into the NHS in the South-West of England is the Devon Alliance. We recently spoke with Tracey Collins, Head of International Nursing and Workforce at the Devon Alliance, about the benefits for internationally educated nurses looking to work in the UK. An OET alumni and nurse that Devon Alliance assisted, Charlene Dsouza also shared her experiences.  


Financial care and well-being for international nurses joining the NHS  

One of the standout perks for nurses is the Health and Care Visa, which not only welcomes these professionals but allows their dependents to relocate too, allowing them to work and settle in the UK hassle-free. You can find out more about dependents on the health and Care Worker visa here.   

For those looking to work in the UK, the NHS goes above and beyond, with many providing free accommodation for the first 2-3 months for the recruited professional and ensuring that salaries start from day one upon arrival into the UK.   

Read the most updated information on the Health and Care Visa.  

Most NHS Trusts typically offer a financial relocation package. It's important to note that these packages may vary between organisations, so it's best for candidates to verify with the hiring Trust and/or recruitment agency. For example, the package that Devon Alliance offers via partner Trusts covers costs like English language testing, visa fees, flights, NMC application fees and others.  It also includes helpful services like assistance in setting up a mobile plan and a bank account.   You can contact Devon Alliance for more information about the package they offer.   

Don’t be afraid to ask questions to understand the detail – recruitment agencies and hiring managers are here to help and provide guidance!    


Unpacking the benefits of working in the NHS 

There are many great opportunities of working in the NHS, including:  


  • You’ll earn a good salary by working in the NHS, in line with your skillset and experience.  
  • Plenty of options for supplemental income through additional shifts or bank shifts.  
  • The NHS is supportive of employees when it comes to addressing housing concerns, offering temporary free accommodation for newcomers. 
  • The NHS cares about employee well-being, so team members receive benefits that include annual leave (holiday pay) and paid sick leave. The NHS offers pension planning, giving healthcare workers peace of mind when it comes to their retirement.  

“Within the NHS there are so many opportunities to climb the career ladder. I've recruited several nurses from overseas including Europe, India and the Philippines, dating back to around 2014. They were initially hired as band 5 staff nurses, and now many have advanced to roles as ward managers and junior sisters. Some have even ventured into the field of research and clinical education which is truly fantastic.”  

- Head of International Nursing and Workforce at Devon Alliance, Tracey Collins 


Continuing professional development (CPD) 

The NHS strongly supports professional growth across various medical specialties, offering opportunities for further training and qualifications. Each NHS institution provides free learning modules through its clinical education teams, allowing individuals to pursue accreditation for advanced qualifications. The NHS welcomes international recruits into leadership roles, alongside internal pathways for progression into positions like ward managers, department managers, or associate directors of nursing. 

One such success story is our OET Global Ambassador, May Parsons.  

“Working within the NHS I feel a sense of honour and pride. I personally felt that there is no cultural bias - the NHS is always looking to support the staff with professional development. If you possess the skills and knowledge, there is nothing that can stop one from furthering your career, just like I have.”  

- Charlene Dsouza, nurse from India now working in the UK 



Route to citizenship and life in the UK 

For those aspiring to call the UK home, the NHS offers a pathway to citizenship. With sponsorship opportunities and a clear route to permanent residency, individuals can build a future for themselves and their families within the UK. Healthcare workers who have been living in the UK and employed by the NHS are able to apply for citizenship after five years. 

Living in the UK offers many benefits for healthcare workers with families, such as: 

  • Free healthcare  
  • Free education for children over four years old  
  • Hours of free childcare for younger children, for eligible working parents. This means that if you enrol your child in nurseries or they stay with a childminder, a certain number of hours will be covered by the state, and you won't have to pay. Find out more.  


The OET Test is one of the first steps to your career in NHS. Here are five free resources to start your preparation journey and help you study for the OET Test.   

“I tried to take IELTS three times but did not get the desired score I needed. My next step was to try the OET Test. It was the best decision I made, as the assessment involved my clinical knowledge from nursing and the OET Test is designed for healthcare professionals. I would highly recommend OET for health care professionals as it is easier than IELTS. If you work hard and practice, then you’ll succeed.” 

- Charlene Dsouza, nurse from India now working in the UK 


Why internationally trained nurses are still essential to the NHS 

“There are rumours in terms of the NHS not recruiting from overseas - that is untrue. The NHS is supportive and committed to continuing international recruitment certainly for the next five and ten years and beyond. Our International workforce play a significant part in delivering care in the NHS.” 

- Tracey Collins, Head of International Nursing and Workforce at the Devon Alliance 

Working for the NHS is not merely a job; it's a journey of growth, fulfilment, and making a meaningful impact on the lives of others. With the support of organisations like the Devon Alliance and a wealth of opportunities for professional development, the NHS continues to be a beacon of hope for healthcare professionals worldwide. 

“What I love about being a Nurse is that each day is unique and bound to have plenty of opportunities to influence and touch lives. I would recommend relocating to the UK to work for the NHS, as the experience has been positive for myself and other colleagues and friends. With the smooth recruitment process, career opportunities, team support and flexible working approach, there are many great benefits to becoming a Nurse in the UK.” 

- Charlene Dsouza, nurse from India now working in the UK 


To find out more about the OET Test and to begin your preparation journey, download our free study guide. 


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