From Middle East to Middle Earth
|Camels Crossing in the Middle East|
The interest of Filipino nurses on New Zealand actually started when the United States limited its visas for Filipino registered nurses. So Filipinos, of course, started to look for other options, and one of those is New Zealand.
Please don’t be
Believe it or not, you can actually process everything without any help of an agency. However, CAP search is really difficult nowadays as the demand is very high but the number of CAP slots is really limited. That means you are competing against nurses with heaps of experience locally and/or overseas. But wait, don’t be discouraged fast! You are reading this post because you’re curious of how to get to New Zealand when you come from the Middle East... Yes, I made this post especially for those nurses hailing from Jeddah. And if you have a Middle Eastern-setting experience, I say you have a better chance of getting a CAP slot and soon land a job in New Zealand.
So how do you get to New Zealand? Of course you have to undergo a lot of assessments and documents processing. It’s a tedious task, believe me, but if you focus on your objectives and you are a goal-oriented individual, you are certainly capable of reaching your dreams! Mahirap pero kaya!
How much do you need to get to New Zealand? That would be roughly 450k to 700k Philippine Pesos. That’s inclusive of IELTS fees, courier fees, Nursing Council fees, the CAP school tuition, plane tickets, accommodation, food, transportation, etcetera. Let me give you a breakdown (prices are approximate):
- PhP 1,600 - New Zealand Embassy in Manila authentication of PRC Board Certificate (Board Certificate should be in Red Ribbon from DFA)
- PhP 115 - NBI Clearance
- PhP 9,500 (SAR 850) - IELTS exam fee
- PhP 1,150 (SAR 100) - Authentication/Notary Public/Certified True Copy of documents in Philippine Consulate EACH document (IELTS result form, Employment Certificate, Nursing Council application form, passport)
- PhP 1,150 (SAR 100) - Application for Police Clearance (Note Verbale) from Philippine Consulate
- PhP 345 (SAR 30) - Authentication of Note Verbale from Philippine Consulate to Jeddah's Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- PhP 2,300 to PhP 4,500 (SAR 200 to 350) - Courier Fee from Jeddah to New Zealand for Stage 1 AND Stage 2 documents
- PhP 16,500 (NZ$ 485) - Nursing Council application (VISA credit card)
- PhP 18,000 (SAR 1,700) - Medical; Done in Saudi German Hospital in Jeddah; Usually PhP 8,500 when done in the Philippines)
- PhP 6,300 - VIA Fee (Visa); Manager's check
- PhP 48,020 - Plane ticket via Singapore Air (Manila-Singapore-Auckland-Otago)
- PhP 262,000 (NZ$ 7,680) - CAP tuition plus medical insurance)
- Others - Taxi, jeep, bus, tricycle; a couple of hundred pesos for the school and PRC documents
So roughly PhP 400,000 ang ginastos ko for the processing ng CAP. If you are good in logic, you will notice that you are using your Pesos or Riyals ng paunti-unti. You won't need the 400k in one day. That is why it is wise to work on your papers while you are employed in Jeddah because you keep earning Riyals every month. PLUS...
- PhP 150,000 to 200,000 - Show money; This has to be in your bank account (as required by the Immigration) because you will need at least NZ$ 1,000 per month to finance your self here in New Zealand for the duration of your CAP. This is the money I am using right now to finance my self here in New Zealand.
Heto ang breakdown ng gastos ko during and after the CAP:
- NZ$120-135 per week - Accommodation (internet, electricity, water, kitchen, etc. included); this will eat so much of your budget!!!
- NZ$30 per week - Transportation by bus (You have the option to walk going to the school or your placement, but I didn't want to tire myself that's why I used the public transpo. My point, I was a student that time, I should have the energy to STUDY (during the two-week classroom set-up) or WORK (during the 6 weeks of clinicals).
- NZ$30-80 per week - Food (I cook my own food, minsan take away kapag tinatamad. haha.). Some could budget NZ$20 per week, pero sobrang gutom na yun for me. You always want to be active and healthy especially when you are alone in a foreign country, right? Invest in your health!
- NZ$110 - Annual Practising Certificate (using a VISA Credit Card)
- NZ$360 - Work Visa application
Generally, the cost of living is higher in New Zealand as compared to Manila and Jeddah. BUT you have to consider a lot of factors when talking about cost of living like the purchasing power of the currency and the salary you receive. To give you the idea of the comparison of standard of living in our cities/countries of interests here, check these links:
If you are an OFW who works in Jeddah, your salary is TAX FREE. But when you work in New Zealand you'll have a whopping 30% of your salary to pay the tax (depending on your salary range). After the tax has been deducted, you still have to pay for the bills and the rent! PERO if you earn dollars that is 3-4 times of what you earn in Jeddah, mas MALAKI pa rin and maitatabi mo for your savings. Nakakahinayang lang talaga gumastos lalo na kung nagsisimula ka pa lang sa New Zealand and you are spending your savings from Saudi.
If you are very wise and mindful of your expenses, you will need just the minimum amount to finance the whole duration of your bridging course. In short, that’s what you need from the start of the process up to the time that you get registered as a nurse here in New Zealand. Nakakagulat noh? I’m just presenting the reality here.
Enough of my words of wisdom. Haha. Let me refer you to a few internet links that would be of great use to you or your friend, or your son, or your daughter, or your relative, or your brother/sister, or kung sinuman!
The Nursing Council of New Zealand website.
This is where you will know all of the requirements by the Council. Also in the website are guidelines on how to complete the requirements. Browse over the application form and the guidelines and start completing the Stage 1 documents! Let me warn you that the requirements change from time to time, so make sure you check the website every now and then to be sure that you are using the correct document/s.
Nurse2NZ blog site.
This blog is THE BLOG that will help you through the minute details of working on the documents. It is a blog tailor-made for Filipinos and made by a Filipino. The blog started in 2007. Since then, the Nursing Council guidelines changed numerous times, good thing the blogger also updates his blog once in a while. That's a proof that the Filipino bayanihan still exists in the digital age.
I strongly urge you to become a member of the forum he (the blogger) made for further discussions, all your questions and answers about documents processing can be found there! Don’t worry, there’s no membership fee or anything, you just have to sign-up with your unique username and voila! Start reading first-hand inputs from nurses who made it to New Zealand by themselves!!!
Working on the Documents While in Saudi
While in the Philippines, process your Stage 1 documents and also apply for an NBI clearance. All the guidelines for internationally registered nurses can be found in the Nursing Council's website. The steps outlined in the main blogsite are the same steps I followed, of course, except for the documents from Saudi (like your Saudi license verification, employment certificate from your company, Saudi police clearance, and the certification of your Saudi documents). Please take note of the changes made by the Council on the process and requirements, the police clearance is now required for Stage 2, it used to be in Stage 1.
If you are working and have stayed in Saudi Arabia for at least 6 months, you will definitely need to give NCNZ a police certificate from Saudi. You could Google 'how to obtain a police clearance in Saudi Arabia' for the details, and if in case you're in Jeddah just search this blog site as I have blogged about the topic a few months ago. If you are Filipino (I suppose), you need to secure the NBI clearance from the Philippines where you grew up. In short, both are required for your application. Please take note of the expiration dates of your clearances, the New Zealand Immigration requires clearances to be not more than 6 months old.
For your passport, you could have it notarized in the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh or Philippine Consulate in Jeddah. It costs SAR 100.
As soon as you completed the Stage 1 documents, send them to NCNZ as soon as possible because you will need the Stage 2 forms and your reference number from them.
This is how I managed. I sent my documents (Stage 1) through FedEx (just last December) and the Council (New Zealand) received those after 4 working days. After 24 hours of them receiving my papers, I received a text message from my credit card company that 485 NZ dollars was charged to my account; a few hours later, I received an email with 3 attachments from the Overseas Registration Team Leader. The attachments were as follows: one was the Verification Request, the other was the Transcript Request, and the last was the latest New Zealand Educational Standards. Of course the Transcript Request is for your nursing school in the Philippines and the Verification Request is for Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) and Saudi Commission for Health Specialties (SCHS). Also, the team leader specified my reference number and a number of instructions and reminders.
SCHS’s Jeddah Branch is just a few meters away from my hospital, so it wasn’t much of a hassle in my part. The guys from the reception directed me to the 3rd floor where a number of tarja and abaya-covered ladies were doing office work. I just presented the Verification Request (with my reference number handwritten on the upper right corner of the page) and explained that it’s for the Nursing Council of New Zealand. A lady requested for the photocopies of my SCHS identification card AND my SCHS certificate where she based some of the information needed in the Verification Request. The request has tick marks on it and they will just tick yes or no if you have a pending investigation, if your license has been revoked or suspended, and if you have any mental or physical conditions. Your registration details and educational qualifications should also be supplied. Make sure they sign all the required fields. I actually guided the lady as she went through the document especially in spelling a number of critical words (my name and my university! She misspelled those that’s why I provided another copy of the document, good thing I had 3 copies).
NCNZ’s instruction is for the professional regulating body to directly send the document to New Zealand. The document was sent via FedEx. After 4 days, NCNZ received my document and the Overseas Registration Administrator confirmed the receipt of my Saudi document.
Some ex-Saudi nurses claimed that they were required to secure a Certificate of Good Standing from SCHS where they had to pay 300 Riyals. I don’t know how they went through it but I did not pay any amount to SCHS. And the whole process, from entering until I exited the building only ate 25 minutes of my time.
I’m sure there is a SCHS branch near you, check this out:
Just a piece of advice, before you leave Saudi, secure all your Saudi documents beforehand. You know how “they” process things in Saudi: ten years. Paano pa kaya kung nasa ‘Pinas ka na or in New Zealand? Make sure you have your updated police clearance (a requirement when you apply for a job in NZ), reference letters from your superiors (get multiple copies), employment certificate (get multiple copies as much as possible), and Certificate of Good Standing from SCHS.
I couldn't process the PRC and Nursing school documents while abroad, so I just asked my parents to work on it. I posted the required documents and provided them the step by step guidelines on how to work on my documents. They managed well, kudos to them, especially to my mom. Hooray!
After the Nursing Council Approval
As soon as the Nursing Council received my Stage 2 documents, I got approved. They asked me to look for a CAP provider – it was extremely difficult! I got rejected a LOT of times. Most of the providers are full for 2013. Some are claiming that they still have a 'long waitlist' for 2014 which is quite alarming especially if you consider the expiration dates of the decision letters issued by the Council.
But then again, I explored my options. One of the CAP providers accepted me in their June 2013 CAP intake. I was shocked when they sent the offer of place because originally, their intake should be in August 2013, nagulat na lang ako na ang starting date ay June 14. Kasi in Saudi Arabia, as per contract, we are asked to give 90 days notice before the resignation date. I was quite devastated that time... But I again explored my options... I talked to the Human Resources specialists and thankfully they offered me a solution to my problem. I did my medicals in one of Jeddah’s accredited hospitals (Saudi German Hospital) which ate 18,500 pesos of my budget! Ang mahal sa Saudi! I made sure I had the complete documents and finally, I bid my maasalama (goodbye) to Saudi Arabia.
I stayed further sa Philippines for about 10 days. It was a risk as I had less than a week to process my visit visa (visit visa is given to CAP students as the course only lasts for 2-3 months; you will need a student visa if your course is at least 6 months). I prayed. Visa was released in two days! Again, before flying to NZ, nagbasa at nagbasa ulit ako ng posts sa forum. Halos nandoon na kasi lahat. The vacuum bag tip of a forumer was really helpful! I did not have a hard time passing by NAIA’s Immigration. I guess that’s because of my numerous ins and outs of the country as an OFW.
CAP was good. It was a very classroom-type set-up. There were 6 Kiwis, 7 Indians, 1 Korean, and the rest were Filipinos, all in all 32 kami lahat sa CAP. First time raw nangyari yun. See, CAP has become a money-making business for schools! If you are a good student and you are mindful of the reason of coming to New Zealand (lalo na yung perang nagastos), then you wouldn’t have a hard time sa mga activities. The two-week theoretical sessions ended with a written exam about New Zealand professional Nursing and a skills exam (practicals) ng adult, infant, and child BLS, and common hospital procedures (indwelling catheterisation, aeseptic technique, etc.).
Clinical placement was also fine. I guess my experience in the Emergency Department (ED) for the last 5 years helped me land a DHB hospital for my clinicals. Or probably, nagkataon na kailangan lang nila ng extra help sa ED kaya they got me. My CAP classmates had heaps of experience from different areas as well pero almost all were placed in resthomes and hospice care facilities. I didn’t have a hard time adjusting kasi very universal naman ang nursing principles especially the Nursing Council competencies. In short, my clinical placement became the extension of my experience from the Philippines and Saudi Arabia. My clinical preceptor was really kind and helpful, another reason why I enjoyed and successfully completed my clinical placement. During the 6-week placement, we were asked to pass requirements including the exemplar for the portfolio. You wouldn’t have a problem with those requirements as long as you know how to reflect on your practice and you know technical writing.
I submitted job applications online during my CAP placement. I was really picky, I just applied to DHBs. As expected, a couple of my applications were unsuccessful. They claimed that I did not meet the minimum requirements. I believe they rejected my application dahil wala pa akong registration and APC. But I was persistent, nag-apply ako sa every ED positions available. Of the 8 applications I sent, I was rejected in 3, still waiting for replies from the 4 applications (as of writing this), and the remaining 1, I was asked to appear for an interview and was offered a full-time job.
The interview, I think, went well. I wasn’t able to answer one of their questions that relate to evidence based nursing, pero the interviewer redirected the question hanggang sa nasagot ko rin eventually. I thought I wouldn’t get the job because of that. Whew! The forumers were right, they asked about competencies, but in my case I wasn’t asked about my skills and clinical experience. I was expecting that they would ask about the USUAL chest pain, stroke and thrombolytics, amputation, triage, rapid sequence induction, pericardiocentesis, PICC lines, ACLS, ATLS, inotropes, thoracotomy, burns, and other common cases in the ED. Instead, they bombarded me with questions about professionalism. They asked about conflict and stress management, cultural diversity, continuing education, prioritisation, and my hobbies! Haha. I was even prepped to sing a song in front of the panel, but they did not insist!
They reached my Kiwi references, my clinical preceptor and clinical lecturer, and in 48 hours, they offered me the job by phone. Now I am just processing my papers before I commence work.
Sa akin lang po... Maraming paraan kung magpupursigi lang. I remember my mom always tells us, "focus lang anak." I guess I focused well enough to have reached this dream of mine, to work in a first world country. It took me almost a year to process things before I finally became registered here in New Zealand. Again, mahirap pero kaya! Kung kaya ko, kaya niyo rin!