The United Kingdom has announced that healthcare professionals like nurses, doctors and midwives who meet the English language requirement of their relevant healthcare board (namely the Nursing and Midwifery Council or General Medical Council) will no longer need to sit for a separate English test to apply for a Tier 2 (General) visa.
Meaning, the Occupational English Test (OET) alone will suffice for both purposes, and healthcare professionals will be exempt from the English language requirement for their visa application.
The change will apply to all Tier 2 (General) visa applications submitted on or after 1st October 2019. In a communique issued last week, the Home Office of UK Government said: “The Home Office has also streamlined English language testing ensuring that doctors, dentists, nurses and midwives who have already passed an English language test accepted by the relevant professional body, do not have to sit another test before entry to the UK on a Tier 2 visa. This change will make sure that hospitals and medical practices across the country will be able to access the staff they need more quickly.”
Sujata Stead, CEO, Cambridge Boxhill Language Assessment, which owns the OET, said: “We are absolutely delighted that healthcare professionals can now take OET for both visa and registration purposes. This will enormously reduce the burden on overseas trained professionals seeking to work in the UK.”
The OET has been increasing in popularity among test-takers, recruiters and employers, who value the ability of a healthcare-specific test to best prepare candidates for the English-speaking healthcare workplace. OET results are accepted by healthcare regulators in the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Dubai, Namibia, Singapore and Ukraine as proof of English language proficiency. The test is also recognized in Australia and New Zealand for visa and immigration purposes.
The OET is an English language test designed specifically for the healthcare sector. It assists regualtory bodies and employers in preparing and selecting internationally trained healthcare professionals with the requisite communication skills.
Practitioners from the following 12 professions can taken the OET: dentistry, dietetics, medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, optometry, pharmacy, physiotherapy, podiatry, radiography, speech pathology and veterinary science.
The test is held every month in more than 110 locations in 40 countries. This year, the tests will be held 14 times. Here are the 12 OET centres in India: Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bangalore, Chandigarh, Chennai, Coimbatore, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kolkata, Mumbai, New Delhi, and Thiruvananthapuram.
The OET is not just a test to assess the English language skills of an healthcare professional. The test is an attempt to see how best a candidate can communicate within a given situation in the healthcare workplace. For instance, they will be asked to write a referral letter based on case notes.
It is a modular test, whereby candidates receive a separate score for each of the four skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening.