One must master the English language to communicate effectively in today’s globalised world. Thus, working abroad requires you to prove your proficiency in the English language to your employers.
A nurse or a midwife in the UK needs to meet the English language requirements set by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).
NMC regulates the nursing and midwifery professions in the UK. It is a government body which ensures the competency and safety of nursing and midwifery professionals employed there. To that end, it has various tests and requirements that one must pass in order to practise in the two fields.
Recently, NMC has announced some changes in its English language requirements. These changes will take effect from 1st October 2023. The rationale behind these changes is to make the process of registering with the NMC more flexible and accessible for applicants. While also maintaining high standards of communication and patient safety.
In this blog post, we will explain what these changes are and how they will affect you if you are planning to apply for an NMC registration.
What are the current English language requirements?
Currently, the NMC accepts two types of language tests to demonstrate your proficiency in English:
- An academic International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test with a minimum score of 7 in all four domains (listening, reading, writing and speaking).
- An Occupational English Test (OET) with a minimum grade of B in all four domains (listening, reading, writing and speaking).
You need to achieve these scores in one sitting and your test results must be less than two years old at the time of your application.
What are the changes in the English language requirement?
The NMC has announced that from 1st October this year, it will accept two additional types of evidences to demonstrate your English language proficiency:
- A Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) iBT with a minimum score of 24 in listening, 24 in reading, 27 in writing and 23 in speaking.
- A Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic) with a minimum score of 65 in listening, 65 in reading, 66 in writing and 65 in speaking.
You will also be able to combine test results from different sittings of the same test type, as long as you achieve the required scores in each category within six months.
For example, if you take the IELTS test twice within six months and achieve a score of 7 in listening, reading and speaking in the first sitting and a score of 7 in writing in the second sitting, you will meet the NMC’s English language requirement.
However, you will not be able to combine test results from different test types. For example, you cannot use an IELTS score for listening and a TOEFL score for reading.
Why are these changes being made?
The NMC has stated that these changes are based on extensive research and consultation with all stakeholders: nurses, midwives, employers, educators and test providers. Moreover, it has also considered the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the availability and accessibility of English language tests.
The NMC believes that these changes will provide more options and flexibility for applicants, while ensuring that they have the necessary level of English language skills to communicate effectively and safely with patients, colleagues and other health professionals.
How will these changes affect me?
It depends on when you are willing to apply for an NMC registration.
If you are planning to apply before 1st October 2023, then you will only be eligible if you meet the current English Language requirements, i.e. achieving the minimum specified score in IELTS or OET.
If, however, you are planning to apply after 1st october, then a multitude of options to prove your English language proficiency open up before you. You can choose from IELTS, OET, TOEFL or PTE Academic test types. You will also be able to combine test results from different sittings of the same test type within six months.
Where can I find more information?
We hope this blog post has helped you understand the changes in the NMC’s English language requirement and how they will affect you if you are planning to work as a nurse or a midwife in the UK.
If you need any assistance with preparing for your English language proficiency test, please contact us at IFANGlobal and we will be happy to help you.
Additionally, you can find more information about the NMC’s English language requirement on its website.