At the beginning of the month, something very exciting happened for many of our E2Language students: the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) began formally accepting scores for OET for nurses.
Why is this so exciting? Well, many of our students hoping to move to the UK happen to be nurses, and Cambridge specifically built OET for nurses (and other medical professionals).
This means that our UK-bound nurses now have a more accessible test to practice for, and one that takes into account their nursing skills and experience in addition to their English skills.
Let’s break down the three top reasons why OET is often the right choice for nurses:
1. OET for Nurses: It’s tailored to your profession
If you’re a nurse, you are probably comfortable working in a fast-paced environment, dealing with difficult patients, making decisions under pressure, and understanding complex information quickly. These skills make you perfectly suited to the various OET sections, as each one mirrors real-life scenarios that nurses face in the workplace.
For example, the OET speaking section is a role-play exercise in which you must interact with a “patient” who has come in with a medical complaint. In the OET writing section, you must write a discharge letter using relevant information about a patient under your (hypothetical!) care.
The benefit of preparing for tasks like these is that nurses get a chance to practice important professional skills that they will need to showcase in a Western context (e.g. UK hospitals). It’s crucial to remember that moving to another country usually comes with massive cultural shifts on top of the language differences.
Preparing for the OET allows nurses the chance to practice highly valuable professional skills that may look slightly different in a Western context, like bedside manner expectations and appropriate follow-up questioning procedure.
I’ll give you an example. Many of our students have worked as nurses for many years, but still find it odd when they begin working in a hospital in the UK or Australia and find that they are given much more decision-making responsibility than they are used to. Furthermore, North-American hospitals in particular are very “patient-centric”, which means that patients often ask more questions or require more in-depth explanations than a foreign-trained nurse may be used to.
Bottom Line: OET for nurses hoping to immediately find work in countries like the UK is a great way to “kill two birds with one stone”. In addition to learning the appropriate English concepts to pass the test, nurses get to improve skills that will serve them well in their next workplace, and hopefully will come out of the OET experience with professional growth on top of their language success!
2. OET for Nurses: The Vocabulary Will Be Familiar to You
Along the same lines as the point above, the OET is extra applicable to medical professionals because it employs common medical vocabulary that you’ll be very comfortable with if you are a nurse. While the PTE, IELTS and TOEFL require that you learn complex English vocabulary that you will probably never use in real life (how many nurses need to write about why they think “education is a critical element to prosperity” in their workplace?)
In general, the nurses we prepare for OET feel a lot more comfortable and confident when they open up a practice exercise and see words like “aetiology” and “rheumatic fever” and “sterilization” (for the record, these words would absolutely terrify me!).
Bottom line: If you’re a pro with medical vocabulary, the OET will probably intimidate you a lot less than some of the other English tests out there!
3. OET for Nurses: It’s Suited to “Pencil and Paper” and “Face-to-Face” People
We live in exciting times when it comes to technology, and it is pretty cool that lots of exams have become computer-based and offer all kinds of fancy automated grading and voice recognition! However, some people will just always feel more comfortable picking up a pencil and writing something out by hand.
In many hospital environments, medical professionals still use paper-based charts and other materials every day, and nurses talk to real patients in their workplace environments, not computers. Many nurses have come to us and complained about how strange and uncomfortable it felt to talk at a computer in exams like the PTE, and how they felt they would have done much better interacting with a human being.
Because the OET is paper-based and uses human examiners to test speaking, E2Language students coming from nursing backgrounds often consider it the ideal test. The “traditional” format sets them at ease, and this (combined with the familiar vocabulary and content) boosts their confidence quite a bit. One thing we definitely know from experience is that a little confidence goes a long way.
By the way, I should probably mention here that although E2Language is an online OET preparation school, our practice materials can easily be done on paper and we encourage students watching our live classes to take real notes! Cambridge OET even named us as an official Cambridge OET preparation provider last year!
One last thing to note is that although IELTS also offers paper-based, face-face testing, it’s not tailored to nurses in the same way that OET is. If you want the best of both worlds in terms of professional relevance and more traditional test methods, OET wins out.
Bottom Line: If you’re a nurse and you’re intimidated by English proficiency tests like TOEFL, or undecided over PTE or OET, the OET is probably a great option for you.
For OET online preparation be sure to watch E2 OET YouTube channel like this one below!
There you have it. Those are the reasons why we always recommend OET for nurses who want to work in Western countries, now including the UK! So, if you’re a nurse moving overseas to an English-dominated country, open up your old textbooks, brush up on your impressive medical vocabulary, and book your OET test date with confidence!
Written by Kaia.