Becoming A UK RN: Albert Duenas Story
By Michael Duque
"While the Pandemic tore the world apart, it built and supported me."
The lockdown forced the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) regulatory body to be flexible in its registration process.
The NMC introduced a Covid-19 temporary register for qualified OSCE candidates to help augment the nursing workforce in the National Healthcare Service. It also gave me a foretaste of what it was to be a registered nurse in the United Kingdom.
I gained my nursing degree in 2011 and subsequently began my nursing career at a local general hospital in my hometown. Fate has it that I was lucky to be given the chance to migrate to the United Kingdom to join my family whom I have not spent time with for some time. Arriving in the UK was surreal and a challenge. Having a BSN from degree but not registered in the UK NMC is a massive blow to my self-confidence as I know I am a nurse but am unable to practice my profession. This was one of the lowest times of my life. But life must go on. I landed my first job as a healthcare assistant in a nursing home. From here I moved to being a dialysis assistant at Stockton dialysis Centre where I worked since.
My lifelong dream to become a nurse never left me. Working as a dialysis assistant gave me the knowledge, experience and confidence to further pursue my dream of becoming a nurse. I had the support of family, colleagues and friends.
I knew that the journey to become a registered nurse was going to be challenging and arduous but I decided to follow my dreams. Juggling between family and my desire to be a UK registered nurse, I started the process six-years later. I studied between family and work during my personal time, sacrificing any personal luxury that I could. With countless sleepless nights, I took the International English Language Testing Service (IELTS) examination which I passed. Thereafter I started the NMC’s requirement of passing the Computer-Based Testing (CBT) as a prerequisite for the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE).
While the Pandemic caused havoc to almost everybody, it provided me an opportunity to prepare more and focus on my forthcoming OSCE assessment. The NMC extended the deadlines and re-scheduled CBT and OSCE examinations in view of the Pandemic. This was the additional motivation that I welcomed gladly as I now had more time to prepare.
Experience is the best teacher and every experience counts. It took me six years to gain the courage and focus on my vision. I may have stumbled and paused but I never gave up. I took all the chances I had always pushing myself to do more and better than what I was the day before. The risk was high and I failed over and over again but I did not allow this failure to stop me from pursuing my goal. It eventually made me stronger.
I was lucky to have a wonderful support network. My family and friends encouraged me to go further and who never gave up on me when I was about to. Colleagues from the Philippine Nurses Association of UK (PNA UK) also provided me with professional support and advice. Life was not meant to be easy and this I knew from the very start. Giving up was never an option either as it would only make me regret it in the future.
With the national lockdown easing and anxiously waiting for the results of the assessment tests, I finally became a UK registered nurse on September 2020, nine-years after having completed my nursing degree. My dream is now a reality. I have made it finally.
To those in the same situation as I am, I encourage you to never give up. Rest if you must but after which continue pursuing your dream and never let it go. It may have taken me a few years but who knows, yours might be shorter or longer but it does not matter. What matters most is you have made your dream a reality. So do not be scared of failing as it is part of your own growth. Everyone has their own time. Always keep your head high and believe that nothing is impossible to achieve your dream specially if you put your heart and mind to it, and when you do, do not fail to look back, acknowledge the people who supported you no matter how small and stay humble amidst your success.