...BlogsTop five tips to starting your nursing career in the United States (from a recruitment expert)
Top five tips to starting your nursing career in the United States (from a recruitment expert)


When you're deciding where to take your nursing career next, the United States is an attractive destination for nurses for many reasons. We've put together some of the top tips from our interview with a US nursing recruiter from Global Nursing Partners about immigration and starting your US nursing career. 

Visit our Destination USA page to see how you can use the OET Test as part of your journey to the USA.


Consider your employment pathway 

The first decision you'll need to make is whether you want to work as a permanent staff nurse or as an agency nurse on assignment. Each pathway offers unique opportunities and benefits, so take the time to compare and determine which aligns best with your career goals and preferences. As this is the first step in the process, spending the time doing research and seeking guidance from others will help you reach a decision that will set you up for success.  


Explore your employment visa options  

Understanding the immigration pathways is crucial for starting your nursing career in the US. There are two types of employment-based visas for international nurses—non-immigrant (H-1B) and immigrant (green card). Familiarise yourself with the processing timelines, eligibility criteria, and advantages of each visa category to make an informed decision. 

If you opt for the H-1B visa, you'll need to decide between the capped and non-capped pathways. The capped route has an annual visa quota and often involves a lottery, while the non-capped option allows for quicker processing, especially for nurses sponsored by non-profit organizations affiliated with academic teaching facilities. 

If you’re working with a recruiter or an organisation at this step, seek their input and guidance.  


Think about where you want to live 

The United States offers a diverse range of settings to suit every lifestyle. Consider factors such as cost of living, safety, transportation options, climate, and recreational activities when researching potential locations. Keep in mind that each state has their own regulations, so registration applies on a state-by-state basis, not nationally like it does in some English-speaking countries.  

Compile a list of preferences to guide your decision-making process effectively. 


Get up to speed with licensure 

Obtaining a license is essential for practicing as a registered nurse in the US. Research the requirements of your chosen state by visiting the state board of nursing's website. If you’re already communicating with an employer or a recruiter, they can take you through the process of how to get your license and other requirements you need to consider.  


Research the healthcare systems of each state 

Understanding the healthcare system of your chosen state is crucial for a successful nursing career. Doing your research will help you prepare to start working in your chosen organisation, while also giving you the confidence to feel informed when in day-to-day interactions. Visit the American Hospital Association's website for valuable information and resources about US hospitals and healthcare practices.  


You’ve got this! 

Effective communication is foundational in nursing, necessary for ensuring quality patient care and effective teamwork. Being confident in your ability to communicate clearly in English is crucial, not just for patient interactions but for working within the healthcare team to deliver the best care possible. That's why the OET Test is the easiest choice for healthcare professionals, with resources and testing material that prepares you for the workplace. Find out more about the OET Test.

By following this guide and doing your research, you'll be well-equipped to embark on your nursing career journey in the United States with confidence and success. Remember to approach each step with diligence and enthusiasm and embrace the opportunities that await you in your new professional endeavour. 


Additional resources 

Destination USA 

Who Recognises OET 

American Hospital Association website 

NCLEX website