The Cost and Process of Nursing Abroad

Thursday, 14 June 2018
When I started the process of applying to work in Australia, I scoured the internet looking for accounts from others in a similar situation, but was pretty much met with a blank. I wanted to know how much it would cost me to complete the process and whether I could afford to commit to starting the application process and seeing it through to the end. With that in mind, I thought I would break down a list of the costs involved, for anyone else that is thinking about making the move. Even after completing most of my application, I am coming across more costs, and it terrifies me to think of the combined cost! But to be forewarned is to be forearmed, so here is the information you need...
 Visa Application
Depending on who you talk to, some will tell you to complete your visa application first, whilst others will tell you to go for the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency application instead (AHPRA - The Australian equivalent of the NMC). I did the visa application first, with the idea that the visa was cheaper to apply for and if I got declined, I'd have saved myself paying the hefty AHPRA fee.

The Working Holiday Visa (WHV) is a year-long visa that you can apply for until the age of 30. Once approved, you must enter the country before your 31st birthday. If you wish to extend your visa to a second year, then you need to do 3-4 months of agricultural work and apply for your second year WHV before you turn 31. This visa allows you to travel around whilst working, but means you can only work in one job for a certain amount of days / hours (somewhere around 500 hours I think).

If you are planning to undertake work in health care whilst on your WHV, you will most likely need to undertake a medical. The medicals can only be performed by licensed panel physicians (I had to go up to London for mine) and are pretty pricey.

WHV - £349
Visa Medical - approx. £300

AHPRA Application
At first glance, the AHPRA application looks incredibly overwhelming. And to be honest, it really is. Before I could submit mine, I spent around three months firing e-mails all over the place, gathering information, and spending money to get the information I needed. Not only that, but a lot of the time I found myself getting nowhere and wanting to pull my hair out with the stress of it all. I was bounced from pillar to post and at times waited weeks on end for responses. The best advice I can give for the AHPRA application is to allow yourself plenty of time to gather all of necessary information, and be prepared for possible delays in getting hold of said information.

You will need to gather statements of service from all of your previous NHS trusts, however there are stipulations as to what the statements should include, and you can find a template for this on the AHPRA website. AHPRA can be very pedantic as to what they require (in fact, mine were rejected and I had to get new letters written up) and must all be hand-signed. You will need proof that you have been taught in English, so that will involve a letter from your school or college to verify that you were taught and assessed in English, and the dates you attended. You need to provide certified copies of your academic certificates, which means you either need to find a Justice of the Peace who can sign and certify them for free, or find a 'notary public' to do so at a cost. Notary publics will quote vastly different prices, so it's best to ring around. I had quotes from between £80 and £200.

As well as certified copies of certificates, you will also need to get transcripts sent from your university directly to AHPRA (if you choose to have the transcripts sent directly to you, you will have to get them certified and if using a notary public, this will incur additional costs). Most universities are au fait with this process, and will complete a pack consisting of summaries of modules completed, placement hours, and your transcripts. Unfortunately the price of this seems to vary between universities.

Working in the NHS, I have never had to complete a CV, as I have always used the very user-friendly NHS Jobs website. However, for AHPRA you will need a full CV following their specified format, so it's best to get started on that as soon as possible, as you will need to gather information on any extra courses you have completed, as well has relevant skills you have pertaining to the jobs you will be seeking.

Finally, you will need to apply for a Certificate of Good Standing (COGS) from the NMC, which they will send directly to AHPRA.

Once you have your AHPRA 'Offer in Principle' you will need to present in person to an AHPRA office to show your ID documents. You will have three months to do so, and therefore need to consider when submitting your application how long it might take and when to book your flights. You might need to think about how long your period of notice is, as you want to arrive in Aus before the three months is up.

You may need to apply for a Fit2Work police check as part of your application; AHPRA will only accept police checks from specified companies. 

Unfortunately my AHPRA application got lost in the post for two and a half months, having sent it tracked with Royal Mail (an experience that nearly put me off the entire process). I have since looked into other ways of sending the documents, and plenty of people have confirmed that DHL seems to be the most reliable, arriving in Australia within less than a week.

AHPRA - $660 (roughly £375)
Notary Public - £80
NMC COGS - £34
University Transcripts - £25 for one university, £50 for the other.
Fit2Work - $163.90 (roughly £93)

Additional Costs
Once your application process is complete, you will of course have to factor in flights, travel insurance, and accommodation, amongst other costs. I have been fortunate enough to secure sponsorship, which means the visa application is around £1300 and I also need an additional police clearance certificate costing £45. The pros of going to Australia on a sponsorship means that I can stay for four years without having to do farm work, and I can get settled into a routine, working in the same place long-term. For some people, being able to travel around Australia is preferable, so you may wish to give consideration as to whether you look for sponsorship opportunities or pursue the WHV route.

If you have any questions about the process I would be more than happy to help - I asked countless questions of strangers on Facebook and it couldn't have been more helpful!

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