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Alternative Pathway Helps International Nurses Register

According to an article in Nursing Standard, upon learning of a group of internationally educated nurses (IENs) in the UK struggling to gain their registration due to difficulties with English language tests, nurse lecturer Dilla Davis from King’s College London sought a way to assist them.

Despite many years of experience in band 3 or 4 roles, these nurses repeatedly fell short in their test results by narrow margins.

Dr Davis, along with a fellow researcher, discovered that the language test content was often irrelevant to the practical communication skills required in nursing.

Recognising the need for a more contextual assessment, they initiated a campaign to streamline the registration process for IENs. Their campaign highlighted the discrepancy between test language and the communication needs of nurses, who primarily need to interact effectively with patients.

The campaign gathered substantial evidence, including a survey with over 850 responses from IENs sharing similar experiences. This evidence was presented to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). As a result, the NMC agreed to a significant policy change in May 2023, introducing an alternative pathway to registration known as Supporting Information from Employers (SIFE).

The SIFE pathway allows IENs who have worked in a UK health or care setting for at least 12 months and have either trained in English in a non-majority English-speaking country or narrowly missed test scores in one domain, to gain registration with an employer's reference. The employer can provide the reference if they have seen adequate demonstrations of the applicant’s language skills over a period of 12 months or more.

So far, more than 1,100 nurses have benefited from this new pathway, and it has been praised for its effectiveness in helping qualified nurses to gain their registration.

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