If you are considering a nursing career in the UK, it is essential that you improve your fluency in medical English, as well as your ability to communicate with local British patients and colleagues
For those who are overseas or new to life in the UK, this can be a genuine challenge. Our English for Nurses course is taught one-to-one via Skype with a native British English tutor and aims to enhance your worked-based language skills, specifically for employment within the NHS or private UK healthcare organisations.
Before you can practise as a nurse in the UK, you must meet the criteria to register with the Nursing & Midwifery Council. For nurses from outside the EU, this means passing the Academic version of IELTS with an overall score of 7.0 (intermediate+ level). In January 2016, new rules were introduced requiring nurses and midwives from EU countries to provide “evidence of their ability to communicate safely and effectively in English” prior to NMC registration. Where such evidence cannot be provided, the applicant will be asked to sit the Academic IELTS exam. Following Brexit, it is likely that UK legislation regarding English for nurses will change again and that IELTS will become a prerequisite for all overseas staff.
At OTUK, we offer intensive and longer-term courses to assist medical professions with their preparation for the Academic IELTS examination.
Current statistics show that around 11-15% of NHS staff in the UK are recruited from overseas. Many of these doctors and nurses pass IELTS prior to registration, but do not have British English as a mother tongue. This leaves them at a disadvantage compared with their UK-born counterparts as they need to develop an understanding of local accents and colloquialisms, intercultural communication issues and standard hospital dialogue. This requires additional study and training of a specific type.
At OTUK, our English for Nurses course focuses not only on medical terminology, but also on typical communication between patients and hospital staff. This type of interaction can sometimes be informal in nature and intended to put the patient at ease or resolve situations involving emotional stress or conflict. A common criticism of overseas nurses is that they are often “too direct” (or may appear rude) when communicating in English with local patients. Misunderstandings of this kind can be avoided with the right language training and practice.
The secret to fluency in English is regular practice, whether this be through self-study or with a qualified tutor. While textbooks like Cambridge Medical English in Use provide a solid foundation for any English for nursing course, there are plenty of additional resources available online and free of charge. These include lists of medical vocabulary and even dedicated Youtube channels for nurses. For those wishing to improve their spoken fluency for nursing, Skype English lessons provide valuable practice and error correction with a native tutor, while also offering greater flexibility and access.
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