If you're a new nurse in the UK or an aspiring UKRN, being excited is one of the feelings that accompany you. You are excited and very eager to start your career, help patients and reach all the goals that you have in life. I don't want to burst your bubble, but there are some hidden truths about being a nurse in the UK that you need to know. Let's have a look at these five hidden truths so you can be fully prepared for your future career as a nurse in the UK.
Hidden Truth #1: Salary is being given on a monthly basis
This is something that every new UK nurse needs to be accustomed to. In the Philippines, a nurse's salary is given either every week or biweekly. Here in the UK, nurses get their payday on a monthly basis. Another important thing to know is that there is no 13th-month bonus in the UK. In my case, I did not know any of this and I was not able to read anything about this. When I was just new here in the UK, all the money I had in the first 2 weeks would be mostly gone by the 4th week. I lived mostly on canned foods. If you are not wise in managing your finances, you will be prone to what we call “lingo de Peligro" - this is when your budget is not enough to last until the next pay date, which usually refers to the week before you receive your pay.
My top tip here is to learn how to budget your money wisely. Create a budget and stick with it. As much as possible, avoid impulsive purchases and always remember that prioritizing your needs over wants is more important. Once you have saved for an emergency fund as a cushion for unexpected expenses, then you can set aside some hard-earned money towards your investment as well as guilt-free spending.
Hidden Truth #2: Pay NMC Registration Annually
Once you pass your OSCE, you pay the registration fee and you become a fully registered UKRN with the NMC. However, this is not a one-time thing. You need to pay the £120 NMC registration every year. Due to our busy schedule, it is easy to forget this annual fee and this may result in severe repercussions. Based on the feedback we heard from our fellow UKRNs, failing to pay your registration fee before its due date can lead you to lose your right to practice as a UKRN, being demoted from Band 5 to Band 3, getting a warning, getting a suspension without pay or even losing your license. Always keep in mind that it is not our employers’ responsibility to check for our yearly NMC registration. Rather, it is our own responsibility to keep track of and renew our registration on a yearly basis.
Setting up an auto-debit arrangement is the best way to avoid late payments. This means that when it's time to renew your registration, the payment will be automatically deducted from your chosen bank account, eliminating the need to remember to make the payment manually. This will be another task off of your list and this will ensure that you will always be registered with the NMC and will not lose your right to practice as a UKRN.
Hidden Truth #3: Revalidation Every 3 Years
As you practice your nursing career in the UK, you also need to know that you are required to revalidate every three years. Revalidation involves the fulfilment of at least 450 practice hours, Continuous Practice Development (CPD), practice-related feedback, written reflective accounts, reflective discussion, and confirmation.
CPD means continuing professional development as you need to show NMC that you are continuously learning and developing in your practice. You need to accumulate 35 CPD hours in 3 years, with 20 of those hours being in participatory learning. For more guidance and information you may visit the NMC or RCN website. Failure to comply with the required CPD hours may result in license revocation or even registration removal. This time it will be harder to get back because you need to show proof that you have CPD hours for the last 3 years.
Keep a journal and document every study day, seminar or any work-related experience you encounter while you’re working. It is important to jot down these details because the NMC may ask you for proof. Also, reflect on your study days and any learning points you have gained as you practice in your area.
Hidden Truth #4: Visa Renewal
A lot of individuals are asking whether their employers will shoulder the visa renewal expenses after their initial stay in the UK. Based on my experience, I can say that most of the time the responsibility to pay for the visa renewal usually falls on us nurses, not the employers. Currently, the cost for visa renewal is £479 for a 3-year visa extension. It is a relief that Skilled Worker Visa holders and their family members are now exempted to pay the IHS fee.
Now, let’s say you’re already in the UK for nearly 5 years and you plan to stay longer or your ultimate goal is to be a UK citizen then you may qualify for ILR “Indefinite Leave to Remain”. ILR is a status granted to foreign nationals that allows them to live and work in the UK without any time restrictions. It is also commonly known as "settled status”.
To learn more about ILR, you can read our previous article about this here: Guide to Applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) The current cost for ILR is £2,404, and after a year, provided that you satisfy all requirements, you may apply for citizenship, which costs £1,330 per person at present. Take note that these costs are applicable to just one person.
If you have plans to bring your family here to the UK, save money for your Visa renewal from day 1 of your employment. It is better to start setting aside a portion of your salary to ensure that you have enough funds when the time comes to pay for these Visa expenses. Please note that the quoted prices today may increase in the following years, so it is critical to save up.
Hidden Truth #5: NHS Medical Benefits Do Not Cover Dental Expenses
One of the reasons why I decided to stay in the UK is because it is known for its free healthcare benefits through the NHS. However, dental fees are not covered by this and are quite expensive. In my personal experience, a visit to the dentist for a check-up can cost around £50, and if there is any work to be done such as a filling, the price can go up to £100-£150. Additionally, cleaning can cost around £60 per visit, which can quickly add up. Take into account that depending on your area, some Dental Clinics may charge more for those said services.
Make sure to get your dental check-ups and treatments done before leaving the Philippines to work in the United Kingdom to avoid incurring these additional costs. This way, you can allot the money that you will be saving to different things since dental services in the Philippines are a lot cheaper than in the UK.
There you have it! The 5 hidden truths that you need to be aware of. They are not meant to discourage you from pursuing your dreams of living and working in the UK but to give you insight that may help you prepare better for your UKRN journey.
The UK offers a lot of opportunities for personal and professional growth for nurses, so it’s up to you to grab them. Pursue your goals with passion and great determination. Always think of the reasons why you are doing what you are doing, with the right mindset, support, and preparation, I know that you can overcome any challenges and succeed in your nursing career in the UK.