How Nursing Differs in Other Countries
By Moira K. McGhee, Contributor
The United States has the largest professional nurse workforce in the world, yet there continues to be more positions open than
nurses available. Recruiting foreign nurses is one of the many strategies used
to address the nursing
shortage throughout the country. However, the education, regulation
and licensure of nurses in other countries is very diverse with considerable
differences in scope and complexity. Explore nursing differences from around
the globe to learn how nursing programs in other countries compare to North
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Not all countries, including Mexico and Nepal, require
you to have a nursing license, and only some countries require nurses to pass
an exam following the completion of their nursing education before they can
practice. Nurses in Australia, Japan, Korea, Poland, Singapore, Thailand, the
Cameroons and the Philippines pass a licensing exam to obtain national
licensure. India only allows nurses to be licensed in one state at once, and
Canadian nurses are licensed by individual provinces but can earn endorsements
for additional licensure in other provinces.
In the United States, nurse licensure varies by state,
with regulations created by each state's Board of Nursing. Previously, nurses
who wanted to practice in more than one state had to apply for a license by
endorsement after obtaining a license in their home state and pay for multiple
licenses. The 2000 Nurse
Licensure Compact provided a multistate license that let nurses
practice across state lines but only in participating states. In
non-participating states, you must still pay for a license by endorsement.
While many countries have comparable education and
regulatory systems, they're not equivalent to that of the United States.
Countries who have historically supplied nurses to the United States include
Canada, India, the Philippines and the United Kingdom, and the Caribbean, China,
Mexico and sub-Saharan Africa are emerging suppliers. Still other nurses come
from Australia, Japan, Israel and Zimbabwe. Here are some differences between
these countries' nursing requirements compared to the United States.
- Australia requires registered nurses to have a
three-year Bachelor of Nursing degree as an entry level to practice. Graduating
nurses must register with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation
Agency's Nursing and Midwifery Board, but they aren't required to pass an exam.
- Japan's nursing requirements include basic
nursing education though a 4-year college/university, 3-year junior college or
3-year training school, and nurses must pass a national licensing exam to
obtain a license from the Minister of Health, Labour, and Welfare. Unlike in
the United States, once you obtain your nursing license in Japan, it's good for
life. Since there's no renewal requirements, nurses also aren't required to
earn continuing education credits.
- Zimbabwe applicants for nurse training at
government hospitals must pass the required minimum five Ordinary Level exams
in one sitting and be between 18 and 30 years old. All practicing nurses must
register with Zimbabwe Health Professions Council and renew their practicing
certificates each year.
- Israel nursing license applicants must complete
theoretical and clinical nursing studies, study Israeli laws and regulations,
the Israeli health system and states of emergency and trauma through a hospital
mentorship, and take professional CPR and Measurement Conversion courses. Once
they complete all prerequisites, they must pass a licensure exam before being
issued a license by the Nursing Division of the Ministry of Health.
The National Council of State Boards of Nursing created
the Resource Manual on the Licensure of Internationally Educated Nurses to
provide a detailed guide for state boards of nursing to use for uniform
licensure requirements. Foreign nurses must contact the Commission on Graduates
of Foreign Nursing Schools for prescreening after completing a comparable
nursing program in their home country.
They must also pass the NCLEX-RN
or NCLEX-PN exam and an English proficiency exam and obtain a work
visa to receive a nursing license. Some countries, including the United States
and Canada, test the competencies of nurses before they leave their home
Whether you're a U.S. nurse thinking about working abroad
or a foreign nurse wanting to work in the United States, remember that nursing
education, standards, competencies and qualifications vary globally. All
countries, including the United States, require incoming nurses to meet
specific educational and/or licensure requirements because there aren't any
universal standards in the nursing profession.