Step by Step Process of Becoming a United Kingdom Registered Nurse (UKRN).

Many individuals are genuinely passionate about caring for others and are drawn to the nursing profession because it allows them to make a difference in people’s lives. They have a deep sense of empathy and a strong desire to help those who are sick or in need.

The nursing profession provides immense personal fulfilment by allowing individuals to play a crucial role in the healthcare system. Nurses have the opportunity to contribute to improving patients’ health outcomes, promoting wellness, and providing emotional support during challenging times. This accomplishment comes from being able to positively impact the lives of others.

The demand for nurses remains high, both in the UK and globally, ensuring that nurses have a secure job market and a variety of settings to work in, such as hospitals, clinics, schools, and community health centers.

Data from 2019 showed that around 20% of registered nurses in the UK were from a Black, Asian, or Minority Ethnic (BAME) background while as of March 2020, there were approximately 690,000 registered nurses in the United Kingdom, according to the Nursing and Midwifery Council – NMC with approximately 90% of all registered nurses in the UK identified as female and 10% identified as male with majority of this population falls within the 35-54 age group, while a significant proportion are aged 55 and over. However, there is also a notable number of younger registered nurses under the age of 35 which means there’s opportunities abound for everyone who regardless of gender, race and age, are really interested in becoming a United Kingdom registered nurse.

Reasons why People aim to become United Kingdom Registered Nurses (UKRN)

Becoming a UK Registered Nurse can offer several benefits and opportunities and here are a few reasons why individuals may aspire to become UK Registered Nurses.

  • Recognition and credibility: UK Registered Nurses are recognized globally for their high standards of education and training. This registration demonstrates that you have met the rigorous requirements set by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and possess the necessary knowledge and skills to provide safe and effective care.
  • Job opportunities: Being a UK Registered Nurse opens doors to diverse employment opportunities. Whether you choose to work in hospitals, community settings, education, research, or other healthcare sectors, there is a wide range of career possibilities available. The UK has a well-established healthcare system that values and employs highly skilled nurses, providing job security and professional growth opportunities.
  • International mobility: Being a UK Registered Nurse can enhance your prospects for working internationally. The NMC registration is highly regarded, and many countries recognize the UK standards. This recognition can make it easier to gain registration in other countries and pursue nursing opportunities worldwide.
  • Professional development: The NMC puts great emphasis on continuous professional development (CPD). As a Registered Nurse, you will have access to numerous training programs, courses, and workshops that can further develop your skills and facilitate career advancement. The commitment to ongoing learning helps you stay updated with the latest healthcare practices and evidence-based care.
  • Patient care and empowerment: Nurses play a crucial role in delivering compassionate and patient-centered care. As a UK Registered Nurse, you will have the opportunity to make a meaningful difference in the lives of individuals and communities, promoting health, preventing illness, and supporting people through times of vulnerability. Nursing is a rewarding profession that allows you to positively impact the lives of others.

Are you passionate about nursing and determined to make a positive impact on patients’ lives?

Are you considering a career in nursing and want to become a United Kingdom Registered Nurse (UKRN)?

Then look no further as this article is for you. This simplified article will guide you through the step-by-step process of achieving your dream career and becoming a United Kingdom registered nurse.

Now without further ado, here are the details below:

6 Steps to Become a United Kingdom Registered Nurse

Before the list begins, as an overseas applicant you must meet the following requirements to begin your application with the NMC;

  • Hold a Nursing Diploma/Degree.
  • Hold current nursing registration or a nursing licence without restrictions.
  • Meet OET/IELTS requirements:

If English is not your first language, you may need to demonstrate your English language proficiency. This can be done by providing results of an approved English language test, such as the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or the Occupational English Test (OET)

Choose a Nursing Programme

When it boils down to choosing a nursing program, there are several key factors to consider in order to make an informed decision that aligns with your career goals and personal circumstances such as right accredited nursing programs, requirements, structure and curriculum.

Explore the qualifications and expertise of the nursing program’s faculty and always look for experienced educators who are knowledgeable in their respective field.

To become a United Kingdom Registered Nurse, prospective applicants must complete an approved nursing program. There are different pathways available, including a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree or a diploma in nursing. Ensure that the program chosen is recognized by the NMC.

Once the appropriate nursing program has been identified, submit your application. Admission requirements may vary, but typically include academic transcripts, personal statements, and references. If accepted, applicants can begin their nursing education.

Complete the nursing program

The duration of the nursing program can vary depending on the pathway chosen. A BSN program typically takes three to four years, while a diploma program may take two to three years. During this time, prospective applicants will study various nursing subjects, gain theoretical knowledge, and participate in clinical placements to develop practical skills.

Register with the NMC

In the United Kingdom, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) is the regulatory body for nurses, midwives, and nursing associates. The NMC maintains a register of all nurses, midwives, and nursing associates in the UK. They assess and verify the qualifications, skills, and knowledge of individuals applying for registration, ensuring that they meet the necessary standards to practise safely and effectively.

The primary function of the UK NMC is to promote public safety and maintain public confidence in the nursing, midwifery, and nursing associate professions. They play a crucial role in setting standards, regulating practice, and ensuring that registered professionals provide safe, competent, and ethical care.

To make sure that an applicant is eligible to register and apply, applicants must complete a self-assessment online. Click here to create an account with the Nursing and Midwifery Council – NMC. Once this process is completed, the applicant will receive confirmation of eligibility and authorisation to book the CBT exam, from the NMC.

Successfully pass the CBT exams

Passing the United Kingdom nurse registration CBT exams is a significant step towards becoming a registered nurse in the UK. The CBT (Computer-Based Test) exams assess a candidate’s theoretical knowledge and understanding of nursing practices, thus ensuring they meet the required standards to provide safe and effective care.

The CBT exams evaluate an applicant’s competence in various areas of nursing, such as patient care, medication administration, health assessment, and professional ethics and questions usually cover a wide range of nursing topics, including anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, nursing ethics, and clinical skills. Successful completion indicates that the nurse possesses the necessary knowledge to practise safely.

Click here to register for your test.

Exam results are emailed to candidates within 48 hours after taking the examination and applicants will be awarded either a pass or a fail. The CBT is valid for two years.

NMC tends to process the application within 60 days, once all required documents have been duly submitted. When everything is completed, successful applicants will be invited to complete the OSCE exam in their assigned UK hospital.


Once applicants are successful in passing the CBT exam, they then proceed to pay the NMC registration fee of £120 which opens up a portal. This portal is where successful applicants upload the required documents and the document required are as follows:

  • Passport
  • Birth Certificate
  • Police clearance
  • Proof of qualifications

The moment these documents are submitted, applicants then proceed to send documents through Courier to the NMC and the exact address to which the documents will be sent may vary depending on the specific application process or requirements.

The documents required to be submitted by applicants are:

  • 2 Employee references
  • Declaration of good health from GP
  • Transcript of training
  • Verification form from your nursing school

NOTE: The documents applicants will send through courier are bar-coded and they must download the documents individually from the NMC portal. It is important to send the correct bar-coded document to the corresponding authority. Do not make the mistake of sending the same bar-coded document to two authorities as this will cause a delay in processing the application.

Applicants can then go ahead to submit their applications on the NMC portal once they see that all documentation has been received by the NMC. It typically takes up to 15 days for the documentation to be uploaded once the NMC has received it by courier.

After the files have gone through the assessment stage, successful applicants will be issued a Decision Letter via email. This decision letter is an invitation to complete the next step, which is the Complete Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) Exam.

This process can take between 40-60 working days once all documentation has been submitted. This is often the longest part of the process.

Complete Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE)

The Objective Structured Clinical Examination, commonly known as OSCE, is a comprehensive assessment method used in the medical and healthcare fields to evaluate a candidate’s practical clinical skills, knowledge, and communication abilities. It is designed to simulate real-life clinical scenarios and assess how well a candidate can apply their theoretical knowledge in a practical setting.

The OSCE normally consists of a series of stations, each presenting a different clinical case or scenario. These stations can cover a wide range of skills, including taking patient histories, performing physical examinations, demonstrating procedural skills, communicating with patients and colleagues, and making sound clinical decisions.

Preparing for an OSCE usually involves a combination of theoretical study, hands-on practice, and familiarising oneself with the format and expectations of the examination. Mock OSCEs, practice stations, and guidance from experienced instructors can be immensely helpful to build confidence, improve performance, and identify areas for improvement.

This exam is only to be completed in the UK so a necessity for successful applicants is a visa to the UK. Once applicants have successfully been placed in a hospital, they will be provided with an OSCE training programme by the Trust, followed by the final exam. All applicants have but three attempts to pass this exam.

This exam typically costs £992 and may be reimbursed by the Trust, depending on what hospital the applicant was placed in and the exam takes place roughly 4-6 weeks after starting in the hospital, this allows for sufficient time for successful applicants to adjust to their new working environment and become more comfortable with the apparatus and everything else needed.

Please refer to the NMC official website here for more information.

Frequently asked Questions

Q: What are the educational requirements to become a Registered Nurse (RN) in the UK?

A: In the UK, you’ll need to complete an approved nursing program to become an RN. This can be either a Bachelor of Nursing (BN) degree or a diploma in nursing.

Q: Are there any specific subjects I need to study in high school to become an RN?

A: While there are no specific subjects required at the high school level, it is generally helpful to have a strong foundation in science, particularly biology and chemistry.

Q: Can I work in the UK without NMC registration?

A: In the UK, NMC registration is a legal requirement for nurses, midwives, and nursing associates to practise. Without NMC registration, you are not allowed to work as a nurse, midwife, or nursing associate in the UK.

Q: How long does the whole registration process take?

A: The whole registration process can vary depending on individual circumstances. Typically, it takes around 60 days for the NMC to process an application. However, this can take longer if additional information or verification is required. It’s advisable to apply well in advance to allow for any potential delays.

Q: Is NMC registration valid internationally?

A: NMC registration is specific to the UK. If you wish to practise nursing or midwifery in another country, you may need to undergo additional registration or meet the requirements of that specific jurisdiction. Many countries have their own regulatory bodies governing nursing and midwifery practice.

Final Conclusion

Registering with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) is a very crucial step for nurses, midwives, and nursing associates who wish to practise in the UK. The registration fees for NMC vary depending on the type of registration and whether you qualify for a reduced fee.

Revalidation is an important aspect of NMC registration, where registered nurses and midwives demonstrate their ongoing ability to meet professional standards. Revalidation occurs every three years and involves reflecting on practice, gathering feedback, and meeting CPD requirements.

Once you have successfully completed all of the above you are now a fully registered nurse and officially part of the NMC. Congratulations!!

For more information and accurate details about NMC registration and any specific inquiries, it is advisable to visit the NMC website through the links posted above or contact their support team on their website.


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