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OCT 07/2013

Nursing: Making the transition from Spain to the UK

Every year thousands of people come to the UK to work in the healthcare sector, bringing professional skills and expertise with them.

Nursing is a profession which recruits many people from overseas in a wide range of positions and can provide a steady career for healthcare professionals who possess the correct qualifications and experience.

Daniel Soto, a 33-year-old nurse who originally comes from Spain, has been working in the UK since April and explained how he has found the transition.

Spain versus the UK

Mr Soto explained that he had worked in Spain for seven years as a nurse and wanted to come to the UK to have a new experience of nursing. After job hunting for a few months he received a job offer from a nursing union in Spain to let him know about the UK position.

"In Spain nursing is more clinical and here it is more sociable. It is a very nice challenge [working in the UK]," he said, adding that the UK offered more opportunities for career development and getting a nursing speciality, which in Spain he claimed "is quite difficult".

The approach to working life is very different in Spain too, as Mr Soto continued to say that nursing there is very varied, meaning one day you may be working in urology and the next neurology, requiring a very broad skill set.

Arriving in the UK

The welcoming atmosphere in UK healthcare facilities was something Mr Soto picked up right away. "Here you have a period of adaptation, so here is very nice when you are a new member of staff they really worry about you, they try to look after you with different courses so I felt really welcome here."

He explained that the transition to working in the UK went well as "Spanish nurses are really well prepared" and, while he has good English speaking skills already, patients were very understanding and patient with him.

Mr Soto said that there are special language training courses which nurses can undertake before starting their jobs to help with the special medical vocabulary and informal conversation they will need to use within their role. He added that: "The UK is a multicultural country so nobody is strange if you are a foreigner. The only problems that arise are if you can't communicate properly, but if you have good English you will be fine."

Advice for Spanish nurses

While Mr Soto said that his situation was uncommon, as he left a job in Spain and brought his family with him to work, he recommended that it was better to move while you are young and to seek a more flexible, diverse workplace.

"What I would say to other Spanish nurses is if you want to develop your career, the UK is the right place to do that. Here normally you can choose where you like to work and also if you are not happy in the first year etc when you control the language side of it you can move to choose a new position," he went on to say.

Mr Soto said that in Spain there is an excellent culture of learning and education, meaning they are well equipped for a range of challenges both at home and abroad in the UK. "In Spain you have a lot of the skills you need because we have very good student and practice programmes, so a nurse who has just finished their studies can do a lot of different things and they don't need any more additional training. We feel very proud of our training."

This, along with English language training, can be very helpful when looking to forge a career in the UK nursing sector.

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