If it's taking your overseas nurses up to 3 months or longer to achieve full registration with the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC), put simply getting their pin numbers, then you are either burning a lot of money to agency nurses or continue making losses on your productivity cost line. The Immigration Rules, paragraph 77K(c)(ii) of Appendix A: Attributes, allows your overseas nurses to remain in employment whilst working to achieve their full registration but only for up to 8 months, after which the sponsor must cease sponsorship and employment. Although this gives a clear benefit to those who failed the exams after 3 attempts, it is not the journey you wish your nurses to make as this is bad to your organisation's bottom line.
You must have heard of this saying:
To realise the value of ONE YEAR, ask a student who failed a grade.To realise the value of ONE MONTH, ask a mother who has given birth to a premature baby.To realise the value of ONE WEEK, ask the editor of a weekly newspaper.To realise the value of ONE HOUR, ask the lovers who are waiting to meet.To realise the value of ONE MINUTE, ask a person who just missed a train.To realise the value of ONE SECOND, ask someone who just avoided an accident.To realise the value of ONE MILLISECOND, ask the person who won a silver medal at the Olympics.
What is the value of three months to your organisation if this is the time it takes for your overseas nurses to obtain their NMC pin numbers? If you are relying on agency nurses and paying an average of £28.00 per hour to cover around 1,240 hours per week, then the value of three months to you will be around £451,360.00. There's an obvious financial benefit then if you could reduce the time of your nurses to NMC full registration.
Let's take a look at John's journey to the UK through IANS. Note below that he entered the UK on 19 October 2020 and sat his OSCE test on 04 November 2020, two weeks later, and received notification of passing his exam two days later. We are of course very happy for John and he is very thrilled to become a registered nurse in the UK within 3 weeks of arrival but the biggest take away really is this - he is sure to reduce a 42-hour weekly agency spend of his sponsor because he is now able to work as a registered nurse.
Not a bad result for realising the value of 3 weeks, right?
So how do you help your overseas nurses achieve full registration with the NMC within 3 weeks of arriving the United Kingdom?
1. Book their OSCE test dates up to 3 months in advance.
The first step is to know the test date availabilities from all the three NMC accredited test centres. As at present, the next available test dates across the three centres is the week commencing 18 January 2021. But the candidates are still overseas at this point and are yet to apply for their visas, and what if something goes wrong and they are not able to join us within the 3 months after paying and securing their test bookings. Does it make sense for sponsors to do this, this early?
The answer is yes, for two reasons: First, you can rebook the test in plenty of time if there's been an unexpected delay in your timeline. Second, you can get a refund if you need to cancel the test booking instead of rebooking it.
2. Start online OSCE training after securing bookings 3 months before test dates.
The second step is to commence live online OSCE training with your candidates. Before the pandemic, at IANS, we used to run a two-week OSCE intensive training and we time it around one week after our candidates have entered the UK and at least a week before they sit their exams, by following our approach under step one as above. It was very effective and we were able to support both our clients and candidates to achieve full NMC registration within 3-4 weeks. Seeing the impact of social distancing and many other restrictions for safety, we experimented in May 2020 to conduct live online training, with our candidates who were all still overseas at the time, once or twice a day over a 6-8 week period covering all the clinical skills. Then we gave them 3 days mocks on arrival and again at least a week before they were scheduled to sit their exams. Guess what results did we get? 100% pass! We are very proud in what we have achieved and this is now how we run our training.
3. Conduct a 3-4 days mock tests upon entering the UK and at least a week before the test dates.
The third step is conducting mock tests over three to four days to give your candidates a real feel of the examination environment. Is 3-4 day mocks sufficient to get these candidates at a competent level to sit their exams, you ask? Thankfully, we can validate this step based on our recent experience which tells us that it is enough to get them to put into application everything they have learned online including all the off line exercises they've been given, prior to the mocks. This is of course dependent to the quality of training and consistency of engagement each of your candidates have had during the online trainings provided.
By following the steps I've laid out in this post based on our experience and results, you should be able to quickly take this strategy into your international recruitment planning and see if there are any benefits to your bottomline or workforce if your overseas nurses are able to achieve full NMC registration within 3-4 weeks of joining your team.
And better yet, you'll have discovered an alternative to your current OSCE training strategy which might help you in your future considerations.
Obtaining an NMC pin number doesn't have to take very long. The steps and processes should be streamlined in a clear anticipated and predicted timeline that helps care providers deliver nursing care without delay and outside bureaucracy.
As long as you have the right candidates and strong immigration support, you can't go wrong.
And then don't leave things to same old processes. Take steps to reduce your time to NMC pin so that you're not widening the already big gaps within your workforce.