Under the changes that come into force on November 1, the Nursing and Midwifery Council will formally recognise the OET test for overseas-trained nurses and midwives who need to prove they have a proficient level of English for registration in the UK.
Those whose first language is not English will now be able to take one of two recognised language tests to prove their competence, instead of the current single IELTS option.
OET CEO, Sujata Stead explained: “What sets OET apart from other tests is that it is designed for healthcare. We use real communication scenarios, similar to the ones healthcare professionals encounter every day.
“We use real communication scenarios, similar to the ones healthcare professionals encounter every day”
“For example, a nurse’s speaking skills will be assessed via a face-to-face role play using a typical nursing scenario, with a trained interlocutor who plays the part of a patient or carer.”
In addition, nurses who have qualified outside the EU/EEA are also able to demonstrate their English language capability in two other ways:
Either by providing evidence that they have undertaken a pre-registration nursing or midwifery qualification taught and examined in English, or by having registered and practised as a nurse in another country where English is the first and native language, and a successful pass in an English language test was required for registration.
NMC chief executive and registrar, Jackie Smith said: “Nurses and midwives trained outside the UK make up around 15% of our register. They are vital to the delivery of health and care services across the UK.
“By accepting alternative forms of evidence we are increasing the options available for nurses and midwives to demonstrate they have the necessary command of English to practise safely and effectively, without compromising patient safety.”
OET is already accepted by healthcare regulators in the Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Dubai for registration purposes, as well as both Australian and New Zealand immigration for all visa categories where proof of English language skills is required.
Tests are currently available monthly at 84 test centres in 37 countries.
Overseas-trained nurses and midwives who are required to take an English language test to gain registration with the NMC need to achieve Grade B in all four OET subtests: reading, writing, speaking and listening.
“In addition, the speaking and writing, tests are different for each of the 12 healthcare professions we test so the scenarios for nurses and midwives will be different to the scenarios for physiotherapists,” said Stead.
“Regulators and employers can feel confident that healthcare professionals who have achieved the required level in OET for their profession can communicate effectively in the healthcare workplace.”