Understanding The Fundamentals of The OET For Nurses

The Occupational English language test is the English language test used to assess the language and communication skills of healthcare professionals. This assessment is used for those health care professionals who wish to register and practice in an English-speaking environment.

In addition to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency, the OET is also recognised by the UK’s General Medical Council and the Nursing Medical and Midwifery Council. The test is also accepted by health care regulators in Ireland, New Zealand, Singapore and several other countries. The OET is the only English language test designed specifically for healthcare professionals and covers 12 professions one of which is nursing.

Where is it required?

The OET is recognised as a proof of English proficiency and is a requirement for immigration in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand. These countries require applicants for various visa categories including skilled migration and student visas to submit their OET scores along with their immigration application.  

Why is it important?

The OET gives non-native healthcare professionals the confidence to communicate in English. Besides its global recognition the OET helps nurses improve their knowledge and grasp of the English language. Furthermore, it is a mandatory requirement for immigration in countries like the UK, Australia and New Zealand. Those looking to move to the UK especially will need to get the required score set by the health regulators and immigration department of the country. Taking the nest will help enhance career opportunities for a nurse looking to work abroad.

It helps nurses improve their ability to interact with patients, make decisions under pressure, and understand complex information quickly. These skills are tested in the various OET sections, as they simulate real-life scenarios that nurses face in the workplace. Patients’ safety is of the utmost importance, being adept at using the English language means that nurses can understand the patients’ concerns and address their problem.   

Structure of the OET:

Just like the other English language assessments IELTS and TOEFL, the OET is divided into four sections – reading, writing, listening and speaking. The test uses medical vocabulary that the nurses will already be familiar with which makes OET easier for them than other assessments. In the OET, there is no specified passing mark or failing marks rather applicants are graded based on their performance. And a minimum acceptable level is set by government organizations, healthcare boards, and immigration service agencies for acceptance into the country.

The OET uses application-based questions which replicate real life scenarios. 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. While the writing section, requires the applicant to write a discharge letter using relevant information about a hypothetical patient.
The benefit of preparing for the test is that nurses can practice important professional skills that they will be required to have in order to work in a Western context (e.g. UK hospitals). It’s important to understand and remember that moving and working in another country usually comes with cultural changes in addition to the language differences.

Want to prepare for the OET? Enroll for the OET preparation online at OETpractice.net.