Nursing abroad as a career
by B.S. WARRIER
Courtesy: The Hindu
The professional success of even the most competent specialist doctor often requires the support and assistance of skilled nurses and paramedical personnel. Nurses from India have made their mark at the global level in competence and dedication to duty.
There is a huge demand for good nurses in western countries, especially the U.S. The remuneration is handsome. However, those with a basic nursing qualification obtained in India cannot straightaway join the nursing service there.
In the U.S., you have to prove your competence by passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). Then there is the CGFNS examination, modelled on the lines of NCLEX-RN. Both can now be taken in India.
An important factor is the need for proving your proficiency in the English language, through scores secured in globally accepted tests, such as the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).
Though the medium of instruction in Indian nursing colleges and schools is English, many graduates cannot easily communicate in that language to people from countries such as the U.S. It is, therefore, imperative that nursing students who desire to practise in the West should plan ahead in developing their English language skills to meet the practical demands of working abroad.
The CGFNS International (formerly known as the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools) is an authority on credentials evaluation pertaining to the education, registration and licensure of nurses and other health-care professionals worldwide. It conducts predictive testing and evaluation of nurses trained in various countries, for ensuring their competence and confirming their eligibility for licensure as registered nurses in the U.S.
The three elements for obtaining CGFNS certification are VisaScreen: Visa credentials assessment; certification programme; and credentials evaluation service.
Applicants must have completed Plus Two and passed a government-approved nursing programme of at least two years’ duration. The four-year B.Sc. nursing degree obtained through nursing colleges or the three-and-a-half-year GNM (general nursing and midwifery) diploma obtained through nursing schools and recognised hospitals in India is adequate nursing qualification for appearance in the CGFNS examination and the NCLEX-RN. Also, the candidates should have obtained registration from the nursing council.
The CGFNS requires the nursing diploma/certificate sent directly from the nursing college or school. So also, the registration details should go directly from the nursing council, and not through the candidate.
The qualifying examination measures an applicant’s nursing knowledge based on what nurses must know and do when they practise nursing in the U.S. The foundations of the qualifying examination are based on client (patient) needs. The traditional clinical areas of nursing practice — nursing care of the adult, nursing care of children, maternal and infant nursing, psychiatric and mental health nursing and community health nursing — are covered. The examination ensures that an applicant has the same level of understanding of nursing with various client groups, in various settings, as graduates of U.S. nursing schools have.
The International Commission on Healthcare Professions (ICHP), a CGFNS division, administers the Visa Credentials Assessment Programme for registered nurses who are not U.S. citizens. This certification is essential for applying for a nurse’s visa.
The process comprises four elements: an education analysis; licensure validation; an English language proficiency assessment; and an examination of nursing knowledge.
For confirming nursing knowledge, you must pass the CGFNS qualifying examination or the NCLEX-RN.
You can prove your English language proficiency by securing the required score in TOEFL Internet-based version (iBT) with at least a score of 83 or the IELTS with at least a score of 6.5 in the academic module.
* You complete a Visa credentials assessment application form and submit it along with full payment and your full academic records to CGFNS/ICHP.
* CGFNS/ICHP sends you a permanent identification number.
* You prepare and send a “request for academic records” form to the nursing school where you studied.
* Your school completes the form and returns it by mail to CGFNS/ICHP with your full academic records.
* CGFNS/ICHP notifies your eligibility.
* You prepare and send a “request for validation of registration/license” form to the licensing authority that issued you a registration, including the U.S. Board of Nursing where you passed the NCLEX-RN.
* The licensing authority completes the “request” form and sends it by mail to CGFNS/ICHP.
* CGFNS/ICHP notifies you of insufficient or outstanding documentation, if any.
* You register for TOEFL or IELTS, indicate CGFNS/ICHP as the score recipient, and pass the English proficiency test.
* CGFNS/ICHP receives your TOEFL or IELTS scores and records it in your VisaScreen file, and reviews your eligibility.
All the application forms required are available on the CGFNS web site www.cgfns.org. You can communicate with CGFNS/ICHP using the information provided in the ‘Contact Us’ link on the web site. For sending material by mail, use the address: CGFNS/ICHP VisaScreen: Visa Credentials Assessment, ICHP, 3600 Market Street, Suite 400, Philadelphia, PA 19104-2665, USA.
You should note that your school and the licensing authority have to send your documents by mail to the CGFNS/ICHP and not you. It may be remembered that authorities in the U.S. will insist on the NCLEX-RN qualification for practising as a registered nurse. The CGFNS exam is modelled on the lines of NCLEX-RN. So those who have passed the CGFNS examination can reasonably expect to pass the NCLEX-RN. The conditions for licensure vary from State to State in the U.S. You have to contact the board of nursing in the State where you wish to become licensed.
As mentioned above, there are some differences among the States in the U.S., with regard to the licensure for registered nurses. In most of the States, internationally educated nurses should possess the CGFNS certificate for taking the NCLEX-RN. The application procedure for CGFNS Certification is as follows:
* You complete an application form for the CGFNS certification with appropriate fee.
* CGFNS sends you an identification number and CGFNS official study guide.
* You prepare and send request for validation of registration/license forms to the licensing authority (nursing council).
* You prepare and send a request for academic records form to your nursing college or school.
* CGFNS checks your documents and notifies your eligibility.
* You register for TOEFL or IELTS, indicate CGFNS as the score recipient, and pass the English proficiency test.
* Simultaneously prepare for the CGFNS qualifying examination.
* CGFNS notifies your eligibility and the date and location of the examination.
* You take the examination (administered three times a year in over 45 test sites worldwide), and once a year in select test sites. In India, the usual test centres are Bangalore, Kochi, Delhi and Mumbai.
* CGFNS notifies you of the qualifying examination results.
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