Internationally qualified nurses and midwives (IQNM) compose 50% of the healthcare workforce. Even so, they account for over half of the shortage of health workers.
This global deficit has led to a migration of nurses. International nurses are leaving their countries in favour of distant shores and opportunities. Working abroad gives them unique insights and experiences making them valuable assets in the medical industry.
Yet, searching for work overseas isn’t always easy. Some find themselves feeling stuck or unsure how to proceed when looking for work.
Are you thinking about becoming qualified as an international nurse or midwife? Have you’ve already passed your IQNM assessment and you’re looking for work? Either way, this guide can help.
Read on to learn more about becoming an IQNM and how to find work once you do.
What Is an International Nurse?
International nurses don’t restrict their practice to one location. They take their nursing skill overseas to work with patients across countless cultures. These skilled medical professionals work anywhere from a doctor’s office to hospitals and clinics.
Nurses with international qualifications have the incredible opportunity to see the world. They also experience the joy of proving care to people who might not always have access to medical treatments.
The Importance of International Nurses
Having experience as an international nurse or midwife increases your skillset. It makes you a more competitive candidate when applying for a specific post or location. International nurses also have a unique perspective when it comes to both health and patients.
Environment’s Role in Health
By providing care in underdeveloped areas, international nurses gain a clearer understanding. They see first-hand how a person’s environment can impact their health. Things that many developed countries take for granted, such as access to fresh water and sanitary facilities, become vital aspects of a healthy community.
Having these experiences helps nurses and midwives learn to appreciate the tools at their disposal. It also forces them to think outside the box when it comes to developing treatments.
Regional Health Conditions
There are lots of places where certain diseases have never existed or been completely eradicated. International nurses are often exposed to novel illnesses, parasites, and ailments. This increases their breadth of knowledge and their critical thinking skills.
In the future, if the nurse encounters a patient with the same illness, they will have first-hand experience to draw from. They also gain exclusive knowledge of effective local cures and herbal remedies. These are remedies that are often unknown in western countries but can prove very effective.
There is a learning curve when it comes to working internationally. Some cultures have specific customs that impact what treatment methods are acceptable. Nurses might come into contact with a population that responds poorly to some medications and treatments.
Learning about different genetic variations can prove useful for future patients. It enhances a nurse’s ability to make connections that would otherwise remain hidden. It also helps develop appropriate treatment plans when addressing novel ailments.
A lot of nurses shy away from working with people outside of their own culture. Things like different languages, regional norms, and social customs can be difficult to navigate.
By putting themselves outside of their comfort zones, international nurses increase their patient sensitivity. This allows them to assess and treat patients from every walk of life with confidence and empathy.
How to Become an IQNM
If you already live in Australia, becoming a registered nurse is straightforward. You will need to complete a Bachelor of Nursing program at an accredited university. Most courses take around three years if you are attending full-time.
Then you will need to apply to the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency (AHPRA). This will allow you to practice as a general registered nurse. After a few years of hands-on experience, you might want to consider specializing.
Take some time to look into different branches of medicine or consider utilizing your skills abroad.
How to Find Work as an IQNM
Because there is such a high demand for international nurses, you shouldn’t have much trouble receiving job offers. The difficulty is finding a job in your desired location. Some areas are impacted, with a high number of nurses looking for work.
There are also country-specific standards and protocols to follow. Before heading abroad make sure to look into registration requirements and employment opportunities.
If you are interested in being a nurse in Australia, you will have to pass two exams: the NCLEX-RN and the OBA.
What Is NCLEX-RN?
If you have been working internationally for a while, then you probably already passed your NCLEX-RN. The National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses or NCLEX-RN is an internationally recognized test. It determines whether you have the qualifications to start work as an entry-level nurse.
The NCLEX-RN includes four main categories with additional subcategories. Questions are based on client needs and focus on practical skills. It requires knowledge acquired in a Bachelor of Nursing course as well as critical thinking skills.
This section hones in on managing patient care and safety protocols. It dives into concepts like patient advocacy and confidentiality. It also includes safety and infection control measures that affect both the nurse and the patient.
Health Promotion and Maintenance
The next part of the exam deals with the different life stages of a patient. Questions look at every aspect of development from newborn care to disease prevention and self-care.
To assure nurses have good interpersonal skills, this part of the exam centres on psychological integrity. It dives into the candidate’s understanding of mental health. This includes addiction issues, life crises, and family dynamics.
This category accounts for the bulk of the NCLEX-RN. It has four sub-categories that address different practical responsibilities a nurse might face.
Nurse candidates will be expected to understand basic care and comfort. This includes everything from patient nutritional needs to personal hygiene. Nurses will need to show an ability to adapt to physiological changes in the patient.
Another key aspect is the ability to reduce potential risk. Nurse candidates are expected to identify and respond to hazardous situations. This ranges from diagnostic test results to recognizing complications from a medical procedure.
The final portion of the exam deals with the ability to perform different procedures and treatments. This includes medication administration, blood draws, dosage control, and pain management.
What Is OBA?
International nurses looking to work in Australia may also be required to pass the Outcome-Based Assessment (OBA). This exam is specifically for IQNMs with nursing skills and experience that do not hold up to the Australian equivalent.
The OBA is a two-part exam. It begins with a multiple-choice cognitive assessment. Once passed, a candidate proceeds to part two. The second portion is known as the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE).
The OSCE is a behavioural assessment. It is used to determine whether your knowledge and competence level is that of a graduate-level nurse in Australia. Failure to pass this portion of the exam indicates a need for additional study and hands-on experience.
Registering as a Nurse in Australia
Once you have passed both exams, you will have to register as a nurse with AHPRA. This process can take up to six months, so be patient.
While you are waiting, work on putting together a CV or resume. This is your chance to show off all of your international nursing experience and how it makes you an ideal candidate for the job.
Utilize this time to figure out logistics about your future. Look into different regions or cities where you might be interested in living for an extended period of time. Decide whether you want to work in the public health sector or private practice.
After your registration has cleared you’ll be ready to apply for your first nursing position in Australia.
International Nurses and Midwives
International nurses and midwives have one of the most rewarding jobs in the world. Along with exploring new places and experiencing unique cultures, they contribute to global health and well-being.
Are you looking for support and guidance when it comes to preparing for your exams? Nurse Assist International can help. Our nurse educators can help you become an international registered nurse or midwife in Australia.
Contact us today to start turning your dream into a reality.