The Anxiety of Waiting: The UK Chronicles Part 1

A lot of nurses here in the PH have set their sights of different countries to seek employment and generally a better life. Their reasons are varied: some do it for professional growth, others for financial gain while some just want a new environment. Regardless of why they do it, it still cannot be denied that the situation for Filipino nurses here in the PH is dire, and that a better option than staying overworked and underpaid, is to go abroad.

Personally, my reasons for pursuing a career overseas is all tangled up like a spider-web. Initially, I wanted to go to the US because of the coaxing of my relatives who are all nurses there. So I followed their advice and complied with all the requirements. Unfortunately, that cost me my hospital job that is why I decided to seek employment in another hospital setting. By then, I was advised by the agency that handles my US application to try hospitals in the UK since they are looking for nurses to fill their ranks. Seeing the opportunity, I decided to grab it. And that is why I am not writing this blog to sort of help out other nurses out there that are in the same predicament as I am.

Basically there are 6 steps in the UK application:

  1. IELTS and CBT
  2. NMC application
  3. Decision Letter
  4. Medical Exam
  5. Certificate of Sponsorship
  6. Visa


This I believe is the most difficult part of the registration process, and this is mainly because both are expensive and takes preparation.

a. IELTS – the IELTS is a standardized English proficiency exam, and for UK Visa and Immigration purposes, candidates should take the IELTS ACADEMIC -UKVI module. It costs 14k in the Philippines, and the NMC requires a score of 7 across the board (Overall Band Score of 7 and no score lower than 7 in all subtests). To prepare for the IELTS, you may take a review course or do self-review through the free materials online. For my IELTS exam, I decided to enroll in a review center, and you can read about my IELTS journey here. For more information about the IELTS, you may look them up in these websites: or

b. CBT- the CBT stands for Computer-Based Examination, and this is the second step after taking the IELTS. The CBT is part of the 2-part examination for nurses required by the NMC (Nursing and Midwifery Council). In booking the CBT, first, you have to visit the NMC website. Next, you have to make an account and register with them. If you are a Filipina nurse like me, take note to make an account in their website designed for those trained outside the EU/UK. Here is the website:

Click on the tab at the upper right corner that says “Register”. Fill in the info needed. Afterwards, you’ll receive an email indicating a link to activate your account. After this step, you’ll have to register with Pearson VUE, the exam provider. Select the CBT and make an account.

After registering to both NMC and Pearson VUE, the next step is to pay the exam fee and schedule the exam. The CBT costs 120 pounds. For the CBT, some students enroll in review centers, but for me, all I did was read the Royal Marsden Nursing Manual and study some of the UK’s nursing laws. In the Philippines, we follow American nursing standards, as well as those set by the WHO, so I had to brush up on UK’s policies as well as some cultural differences that might impact my practice. I suggest that other candidates do the same, because the CBT has some questions about Acts of Parliament that affect nursing practice. As for the timeline, I took about a month of self-review in order to get ready for the exam.

Here in the PH, there are 2 testing centers in Metro Manila and both are located in Makati. Prior to the test, as with all types of exam preparations, make sure to bring pertinent IDs, be there on time and follow instructions. They are strict, so no funny business. The result can be viewed mere hours after the exam. There is no “score” given, just a “Pass” or “Fail”.

I passed. Yay! Lol.

II. NMC application

After passing the CBT, the next step is to apply in the NMC’s register of nurses. This is where it gets tedious because there are tons of requirements to fulfill.

A quick run-down of documents to prepare:

a. TOR and forms to accompany transcript of nursing

b. verification of license

c. 2 reference forms

d. a declaration of good health

In addition to the documents, you also have to fill in info in the website corresponding to these documents. Make sure that the information in the hard copies are the same as the info that you will indicate in the website. Once all the forms are complete, send them via courier to the NMC, and then click the declaration button.

I’d also like to add that procuring the needed documents is no joke. Firstly, they’re quite expensive. The shipping fee + the fees for the official transcripts, not to mention some fees required by the doctor for the declaration of good health is quite expensive. All in all, I guess I’ve expended almost 10 to 15,000 pesos just for the goddamned papers. Ready your pockets, it’ll bleed.

Anyway, once all your barcoded forms (the hard copies) are received by the NMC, they will scan thsoe documents and then upload them in the website. After this, your application then now enters the queue for assessment. The assessment takes 40 to 60 working days.

III. Decision Letter

The decision letter is basically a letter that tells you that you can now proceed to the next steps because the NMC had not seen any thing that makes you unqualified etc etc…

This is where it gets frustrating and anxiety-inducing, because the waiting game for the DL is just… ludicrous. As of this writing, I am still waiting for the decision letter, which is the next step after submission of all documents to the NMC. Honestly, the wait is enough to induce all sorts of migraine. Some friends of mine got their decision letters less than the given timeline, and I’ve read in some groups that the DL sometimes takes even longer than 60 days to be granted. I’ve already called the NMC 2x and all they told me was to wait and that my documents are already in the queue… seriously, it’s ridiculous.

I’ll end the first part here and will update once I’ve proceeded to the other steps. In the meantime, if you or your friends have similar experiences, share them through the comment section so that those who happen to stumble over this post may be guided as well.

And if you have anything to add/say just holler!

Till next time!:)




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