Are You an Internationally Educated Nurse and Want to Practice in the US? Then Read This…

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Relocating and pursuing a career in the healthcare industry of the United States of America is a dream of most of the internationally educated nurses. There are some who find an opportunity by their own and take up jobs as they comes whereas some go with the help of industry experts and land on a perfect job. Whichever way you go, there are certain things and process that you need to adhere in realizing your dream of practicing in the US.

Thus, if you’re an International Registered Nurse and you want to practice in the United States, here is how you can make it happen –

Academic Requirements

Make sure you’ve completed the following education and licensing requirements in your country:

  • You’ve graduated from an accredited Registered Nursing program
  • You’re licensed as a Registered Nurse (RN) – (NCLEX – RN)
  • You’ve practiced as an RN for at least two years

Proficiency in English Language

Being an internationally educated nurse from a different country, you’ll likely be required to take one of the tests below:

  • You can take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).
  • Your test results need to be sent directly to the state board you’re applying to, by your test administration.
  • You may be exempt from taking one of the exams above, if you meet the three criteria below:
  • The country where you went to nursing school was the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada (except Quebec), or the Republic of Ireland.
  • The spoken language of your nursing school was English.
  • Your nursing school textbooks were written in English.

An RN Immigrant Visa/Green Card is Required

To get an RN immigrant visa, you’ll need the following documents:

  • Evidence of a US-based employer who will be the petitioner for your immigrant visa. An RN recruiter can be your petitioner.
  • A Visa Screen Certificate (VSC). This is issued by The International Commission on Healthcare Professionals (ICHP), a division of Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS).
  • Both of these documents must be sent directly to ICHP/CGFNS on your behalf by the issuing authority.

Clearing Your RN Visa Interview and Medical Examination

Here’s what happens after your visa immigrant petition is approved:

  • The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) sends your file to the National Visa Center (NVC) for processing.
  • The NVC will forward your file to the nearest US embassy where your visa will be issued.
  • You’ll also receive a package from the NVC with the appointment date for your visa interview and what you need to bring to the embassy
  • Then you need to have a medical exam. You’ll find a list of designated panel physicians you can contact, in your package from the NVC.
  • Processing your visa could take a few months to a year, or even years, depending on factors personal to your situation.
  • After you’ve gone through your visa interview and medical exam, you could receive your visa as soon as a few hours, or weeks, after.

Accepting Your RN Job Offer and Take an Employment Medical Exam

Here’s what will happen, when you’re getting ready to accept your position as an RN in the US:

  • Your employer/RN agency will have secured you an RN position with one of their client hospitals before your visa interview. You’ll need to have provided your resume and RN specialty checklist.
  • You’ll also take a second medical exam, this time it’ll be given by your employing hospital. The requirements for the exam vary by hospital.

Getting an RN Resuscitation Certification

  • You’ll need to take an Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) course, a Basic Life Support (BLS) course, or a Pediatric Advanced Life Support Course (PALS).
  • The type of resuscitation certification you’ll need will depend on your area of practice, and hospital policies.
  • You can get these certificates before arriving in the US, but make sure the provider of these courses is American Heart Association (AHA) accredited.

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