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I always wanted to travel with my job so as soon as I was able, I signed up with an agency and jumped on a plane. The UK was exactly what I wanted. It was the perfect base for my travels through Europe and the Middle East and I took advantage! Nursing gave me the ability to earn good money AND fund my (travel) habit.
London is so busy and heavily populated that it was initially a bit overwhelming. I had to put myself out there but once I did, I met lots of fellow expats who turned into close friends and travel buddies!
There was a vibrant nightlife in London and the shopping was awesome, much more so than what I had grown up with in little old New Zealand. So, for me it was a case of work hard and enjoy the rewards.
The most frustrating part was the registration. It was quite lengthy but a necessary evil. It was important that I didn’t lose my nursing skills so early on in my career or, take a pay cut by working in a job outside of nursing so, I knuckled down and got registered.
I did the application with a friend, we kept each other motivated and checked in regularly so that neither was lagging behind. More recently nurses no longer have to sit the English exam and everything is available on line so it is much more streamlined. Back when I was applying it was all hard copy! The postage took forever and was expensive!
Patient care in the UK was same but different. A patient is a patient wherever you go and you nurse with the utmost compassion and care where ever you are. That said the hospital system took some getting used to. I naively thought it would be fairly similar to New Zealand but soon learnt that every country and every hospital has a different system. I adapted and hit the floor running in no time though. Learning this was a great stepping stone for future countries that I worked in such as Saudi Arabia and Australia.
Keeping it real, I knew that the UK was not the place to go for money however, the experiences I had were priceless and unique to the UK. To this day I am still friends with some of the nurses I met and its 20 years later! The travel that I did – well nothing can compare to that and, the memories that I hold are some of my most precious ….
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