IELTS and OET Tips for International Nurses and Midwives (NMCs)

IELTS and OET Tips for International Nurses and Midwives (NMCs)

So, you want to move your nursing or midwifery career to an English speaking country- exciting stuff!

This article will go through the core information about the requirements surrounding the IELTS and OET test, for nurses and midwives.

Make sure to look at the comparison between the IELTS and OET, so you begin to get a feel for what these tests involve and which may be more suitable for you.

Why does the IELTS or OET apply to nurses and midwives?

Similarly for international medics, the testing system for nurses and midwives wanting to work in an English speaking country, are required to either pass their IELTS test or their OET test. 

If you have narrowly missed the required score in one domain, and secured otherwise good results in the remaining tests, then you may be able to to use supporting information from your SIFE (Supporting Information from Employers), that can help to support your application. 

What grades do I need to be accepted into the NMC? 

You will need a minimum of a 7 for reading, listening and speaking, and a minimum of a 6.5 in your writing. 

Do I need to do the IELTS test in person? 

You can either do the IELTS test in person, or online. Both forms of the IELTS are accepted by the NMC. 

Are my grades counted from my first IELTS test if I have to resit the test? 

You can combine your IELTS tests, if you take the test twice. Providing, the tests are taken within 12 months of each other, you are tested in all four sections on the day (you take all four tests in one sitting), you meet the grade requirements, and no scores in either of the test are below a 6.5 for reading, listening and speaking or below 6 for writing. 

So, the idea is that, if you combine test results, these are your thresholds that you will need to meet. 

What additional support can I use from my SIFE?

  • Proof that you have been working in a non-registered role in a health or care setting for at least 12 months full time at the point of submitting your application 
  • Have had an NMC registrant as your line manager in this role (supported information from a maximum of two NMC registered line managers to cover up to 12 months or the full time equivalent)

Requirements from your line manager

  • They must be your current employer 
  • They will need to provide information about your English competency through an NMC online form 
  • They need to be an NHS Band 6 
  • The information need to be countersigned by an NMC registrant who is an NHS Band 8a

What is the difference between the IELTS and the OET? 

Download your free PDF below that defines the key differences between IELTS and OET, in order to see which test is most suitable for you.

Top Tip!

Visit Geeky Medics to practice learning medical language if you are taking the OET exam.

Final thoughts: 

  1. Both exams, the IELTS and OET, are accepted by the GMC and NMC. 

  1. The real distinction between the two is that the OET tests your ability to communicate in English specifically in the context of healthcare, whereas the IELTS tests your overall ability to communicate in English. In other words, OET= medical English, IELTS = academic English. 

  1. Neither is easier- they are both challenging tests and require study and practice beforehand, for at least two months. We all learn in different ways and we will prepare in ways that compliment our process of learning. Of course you can seek advice to gain some further insights where former test takers can be incredibly helpful, but make sure you choose the test that is right for you. And once again, leave plenty of time to practice! 

  1. The OET may be more familiar to you because your experiences and communication in English have potentially been heavily influenced by the healthcare system. You may for example, have only practiced your English in the context of healthcare, and not had the opportunity to discuss your views on education, or described your childhood to someone, which would therefore demonstrate that your English is healthcare specific, but not broad enough to engage in other types of more everyday communication. 

  1. The aim is to pass your assessment of English and be accepted by either the GMC or NMC, so that you can practice your medical career overseas. Let’s say you want to take the IELTS Academic test and you pass- you are set to begin your new life. But along the way, you want to learn more specific medical language. Firstly, you will learn this by just practicing medicine in the English speaking country of your choice. Additionally, there are; courses, professional tutors, group learning, talks and lectures, online and in person communities, forums, video content (I have met so many students who have told me how much additional English they have learnt through YouTube), reading , additional training or CPD, the list goes on- there is so much out there that you can engage with to continue developing your English.

  1. It’s worth remembering that both a 7 in IELTS and a B on the OET test is considered C1 or advanced level of English by the Common European Framework Reference, which opens up many doors to you in pursuing your career or further study native English speaking countries. And that’s very exciting!