A wealth of overseas experience to use

09 May 2024
Volume 33 · Issue 9

Working in the UK as an internationally-educated nurse (IEN) comes with its nuanced challenges, with career progression often obscured not only by the cultural and hierarchical barriers inherent to any organisational setting but also by myths and misconceptions surrounding it. I aim to demystify some of the prevailing misconstructions regarding professional development, in order to empower IENs to navigate their career pathways with confidence and clarity and forge a path to a more inclusive and diverse nursing workforce.

Many IENs bring a wealth of experience from working abroad, whether in their home countries or elsewhere, before coming to the UK to join the NHS, private hospitals or the social care sector. Despite qualifications and expertise, experienced IENs are often treated as new staff, as reflected by the current recruiting practices. Many NHS trusts place their IENs at the default lowest spine point of Band 5 regardless of overseas experience. This manifests the systemic undervaluation of IENs and undermines the rich contribution they bring to the NHS workforce. This practice fails to recognise their true value but also perpetuates a negative self-image among IENs as their salary falls short of reflecting their skills and competence.

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