Travel Nursing Series: Nursing in the UK

Why do people travel? Finding a definitive answer to that question is difficult, at best. Human nature has many needs and these needs vary from person to person. Perhaps plain wanderlust urges people see new places and have new experiences or the need to get away from everyday stress or pressures at home or work. Some may want to make a religious pilgrimage to a sacred site or find new adventures in the jungle or mountains. New careers may beckon as a cooking school lures you to enroll or the travel writing bug bites you. Whatever the reason, travel allows you to make a connection in another country, meet different people and experience different cultures. But most important, travel allows you to become a citizen of the world…..to make a connection with other members of the human race.

This desire to travel even leads some people to work overseas and has led to the establishment of several agencies that specialize in international travel nursing. One country that is a popular destination for American born travel nurses is the UK. Similar cultures and language make England, Scotland and Wales a desirable nursing post.

Most international nursing agencies have the experience to help the travel nurse through the registration process, including any licensing or training that is required. A travel nursing tour in the UK is typically on a 13 week rotation which mean that a nurse could experience four different settings in her travel country, if desired. Options to extend a 13 week tour are often available if a nurse wants to remain in the same location.

Above average pay rates and full medical benefits offered by the National Health Service are not the only financial incentives to entice the travel nurse. Subsidized housing is provided either close to the health care facility or close to safe public transport. Some agencies also offer 24 days of paid vacation annually, sick pay and continuing education. Travel stipends give travel nurses a little extra financial help to explore their new country. In addition, nursing uniforms are often provided by the hospital. Uniform scrubs have made their way overseas so it is likely that you will not have to wear the traditional black shoes and black stockings that have characterized nursing uniforms in the UK. You will have to provide your own nursing shoes or nursing clogs so check your hospital’s requirements with your agency

Adjusting to life in the UK is easier than ever. Once almost non-existent, large supermarkets are springing up in most areas which means that most of your favorite foods are available on the UK supermarket shelves. Still, there are some products that are simply not sold in the British Isles so you will want to verify if your favorite snack or lunch food is available. Otherwise, you may want to bring a stash of peanut butter or your favorite cracker with you.

Public transportation in the UK is clean, safe and very accessible. Travel in the cities or between cities is made easy by the reliable transit companies. Most areas of the UK can be accessed in less than 8 hours, making for easy weekend touring. Pack a variety of non-wrinkle clothing to layer for the ever changing weather. Evenings can be cool and as a friend of mine found out, wearing thermals for sleepwear was a necessity for all seasons except summer. If you have room in your suitcase, a lightweight but warm fleece blanket is a welcome addition as you can use it as an extra blanket, a leg warmer while reading on the couch or throw it over yourself on a train to a new destination.

With some good planning, being a travel nurse in the UK can be that new adventure that introduces you to a new culture and new people with relatively few difficulties associated with moving to a foreign country. Perhaps being a travel nurse is for you.

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