How To Find A Career In Healthcare When You Emigrate

August 10, 2021


Photo by Zach Vessels on Unsplash

Every year, many people decide to make a new life in a different country. It can be an amazing experience to live in another country. Living in another country, even if it’s only for a year or two, can change your entire outlook on life. 

While it would be nice to be rich and not have to work to fund your lifestyle, most people will need to work to make a living. 

The good news is, as a trained nurse, your skills are needed virtually all over the world. Healthcare is often one of the most required skills in a country and unlike many industries which can disappear with a recession, it’s always needed.  However, there’s a lot to consider when finding and applying for jobs. 

Read on for a guide on working as a nurse in another country. 

Check your qualifications

Not all nursing qualifications are the same across countries. Unfortunately, the training in some countries may not be at the required standard to practice in another. 

Check which qualifications are accepted in the country you are planning on moving to. If your current qualifications aren’t sufficient, there may be an accelerated or conversion course that you can do to be recognized officially. 

If you’re a newly qualified nurse, getting some work experience under your belt before you apply for jobs in another country is a good idea and can increase your chances of finding a good role. Throwing on your nursing scrubs from Uniform Advantage and getting some good experience will also do wonders for your confidence too. 

In addition to your qualifications, you may need to be officially licensed by a professional body too. 

Learn the language

You could be the most qualified, most experienced nurse in the world, but if you don’t understand what people are saying, you won’t get far. If you’re moving to a country where they speak English as a first language, then you will only have to get to grips with the dialect or different names for certain things. 

If the language is different, then you are going to need to learn it to an acceptable standard before you begin applying for jobs. Start taking courses to get your general language skills up to scratch and then look for a specialist course that concentrates on medical and health-related language. Other than helping you do your job, learning a language is a fantastic skill to learn and will help you integrate into your new country. 

Updating your resume

As with any job application, you will need an up-to-date resume and supporting personal statement. Employers will be looking for evidence that you are both academically qualified, have experience, and will be a good culture fit for the hospital. If resumes aren’t your strong suit, use a professional company that can help yours stand out. 

Looking for jobs

There are many ways to find nursing jobs abroad. Check on nursing websites and nursing publications as they will often have a section dedicated to both domestic and international vacancies. 

From time to time, certain countries find themselves lacking in qualified nurses and decide to run an international advertising campaign. These campaigns are often run by the government or health services in those countries. They usually have some form of incentives such as a relocation allowance, VISA sponsorship, or bursary. 

When you see these types of offers, do a little further research and make sure they’re legitimate as it is also common for scammers to try to get money from people who want to emigrate. 

Look out for recruitment events held by international recruitment agencies. These usually take place a few times a year and are a great way to get more information and sign up for their services. They will be able to send you relevant job openings as they occur. 

If there is a specific area or facility you wish to work in, you can try applying directly. 

Countries with nursing shortages

There are a number of factors that lead to nursing shortages around the world. A growing population puts pressure on health care and an aging population means that the number of people retiring is higher than the number of people entering the profession. 

Here are some of the countries that are currently experiencing a shortage of qualified nurses. 


With one of the most comprehensive public health services in the world, the UK is facing a struggle to fill its vacant nursing posts. There has been a lot of confusion over the status of healthcare workers since the decision to leave the EU, but there are many government initiatives to fill these posts with workers from both the UK and other countries. 

New Zealand

Though it has a small population, New Zealand still needs qualified nurses. The country has the best working practices in the world, with excellent conditions for workers and a great work-life balance. 


If you’re willing to learn Norwegian, then moving to Norway could be a perfect option. The country has a fantastic healthcare system but has trouble recruiting the number of nurses needed to run it. Norwegian workers also benefit from excellent working conditions and benefits. 


Canada has an amazing public health system for its residents that requires a lot of nurses. It’s estimated that it could need an extra 60,000 by 2022. 


Another country with a great healthcare system and employment rights for workers. Denmark requires all healthcare professionals from overseas to have the required level of Danish but the benefits and pay are very good. 


Many people are attracted to Australia due to the climate, scenery, and renowned friendliness of Australians. There are opportunities in both the private and public sectors for those qualified nurses with experience. 

United Arab Emirates

The UAE recently changed its educational requirements for nurses. A nursing degree is now required, meaning that many foreign nurses who had diplomas, lost their jobs and created a shortage. If you have a bachelor’s degree, then consider the UAE as it is offering very generous bursaries and packages to suitably qualified applicants. 

Research the cost of living

There are huge differences when it comes to the cost of living around the world. You will need to know these when you’re looking for work so that you can make decisions on the salary. What might look like a good salary, may not be enough in some countries where the cost of living is very high. On the other hand, if a country has a very low cost of living, then a smaller salary might get you quite a lot. 

Before you start applying for roles, look into the cost of housing, tax, transport, and food in the area you are looking to live in. 

Get a professional to look at any contract

When you receive an offer of a job, ask for some time to review the contract in full. It’s a good idea to have a professional give it the once over. It’s common to assume that employment laws are the same everywhere, they really aren’t. Some countries will have better regulations and protections for workers, some will be a lot worse. You should know what is expected of you and what you can expect from your employer. This can save a lot of potential distress later on. 

Ensure that there are no conditions or caveats around your hours and pay. For example, the salary they offer should be the salary you are paid, not dependent on overtime or passing certain certifications. 

If in doubt, get it clarified in writing. There’s no question too small when it comes to this. 

Join a nursing union

Membership of a nursing union in your own country won’t be relevant when you move abroad. It is a good idea to join an organization based in your new country so that you have good representation. As you are bound by the laws and employment contracts of the country you are working in, you will need someone with knowledge of this so that you can be well advised. 

Maintain your nursing license in your home country

If at any point you intend to return to your home country to practice nursing, then you should try and keep your license current if possible. See how long it is before you need to be re-certified and keep this in mind when you’re away. 


Being a trained medical professional is a huge advantage if you’re thinking of moving to another country. Many countries have caps on immigration and give priority to those with the skills they require. Healthcare is always on these lists. 

The key to finding the best role for your skills and experience is to be very thorough in your research. Knowing as much as possible about the country, health care system, cost of living, and employment law will help you navigate through the recruitment process. By doing this you’re giving yourself a huge advantage on finding the right role and avoiding scams or schemes that take advantage of those who want to live and work abroad. 

*contributed post*

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