Working as a nurse in Saudi Arabia is a gratifying experience for the majority of foreign-educated nurses. Most nurses are drawn to Saudi Arabia for a variety of reasons, including the pay, benefits, and modern healthcare system. The working culture in KSA greatly varies from those of the other European countries, as the practices and policies are patterned after the System of USA. International nurses, who wish to work in the country, must take the Prometrics Exam, and have their credentials validated through DataFlow. The entire process may take four to six months.
About the Country
It can definitely be intimidating to move to another country. Therefore, it is important to read more and understand their culture. KSA is conservative Islamic country. Similar to most Islamic countries, Islam governs many aspects of life, ranging from politics and business, to family life, hygiene and more. You are free to practice any religion in your own homes, however, preaching may be prohibited and those who breach the law may face severe penalties. In addition, KSA is a patriarchal country, wherein it is difficult for some foreign women to adjust to the tight regulations and restrictions that have been institutionalized in legislation for many years. Currently, the law is less strict and foreign women are exempted from many of these restrictions.
The cost of living in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is significantly lower as compared to other Middle Eastern countries. The public transportation system of the country is inadequate; as a result, most individuals rely on their personal vehicles or taxis to get from one place to another. However, this does not necessarily increase your cost of living as the country has low import duties, as well as cheap patrol. As a result, you will not have to spend as much when you drive around the country. With this, you could explore and visit the beautiful landscapes of the country.
The healthcare system of KSA is comparable to that of Western Europe and the United States. The country has several public and private healthcare facilities that provide high quality medical services and are equipped with advanced technology. Despite this, certain specialized treatments may still require you to seek treatment outside of the country. Furthermore, foreign healthcare workers are required to have medical insurance if they work in the private sector, therefore, most of them rely on private hospitals.
Type of Nurses
In the Middle East, nurses are in high demand. There are several opportunities to choose from in the country. Nursing professionals are often employed on a one to two year contract basis, with the option of renewal depending on your agreement with your employer. Contracts are frequently made on a single status’ basis, which means you’ll have to make your own housing arrangements if you’re traveling with a spouse or dependents. This may be different for jobs of higher positions. Some types of nurses include Registered Nurses, Enrolled Nurses, Nurse Practitioners, and Intensive Care Unit (ICU) Nurses.
Registered Nurses (RN)
To become an RN in the KSA, you must be a holder of a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing. You may also choose to acquire an Associate degree in Nursing from Canada or USA instead. This must be accompanied by a successful completion of the respective national exams in the countries. For instance, the USA requires nurses to take the NCLEX-RN, while Canada requires nurses to take a licensing exam.
Some responsibilities of an RN include everything from direct patient care and case management to developing nursing practice standards, developing quality assurance procedures, directing complex nursing care systems, conducting clinical research, teaching in nursing programs, and working in a variety of other exciting settings.
Enrolled Nurses (EN)
Enrolled nurses work in community, residential, and hospital settings under the supervision and delegation of a registered nurse or nurse practitioner to provide nursing care and health education to people of all ages.
Nurse practitioners are highly skilled, self-contained health care providers with extensive education, clinical experience, and established competence. They are legally allowed to practice at a higher level than a registered nurse.
Intensive Care Unit (ICU) Nurses
To become an ICU nurse, you must be a holder of a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing, and an ICU nurse certification. ICU Nurses are responsible for using their nursing specialties to maintain a patient’s health and life. Some of their tasks include head-to-toe evaluations, wound care, prescription delivery, and much more.
According to the Ministry of Health (MOH), as of 2016, there are a total of 470 hospitals in KSA, in which 274 are MOH Hospitals. From this, 60 are Central Board for Accreditation of Healthcare Institutions (CBAHI) Accredited MOH Hospitals. Furthermore, there are 152 private hospitals, wherein 60 of them are CBAHI Accredited Private Hospitals.
According to the Economic Research Institute, nurses who work in KSA, receive an average salary of 65, 273 SAR (₱968,056.84) annually or an average hourly rate of 31.38 SAR (₱465.39). Staff nurses working in the country have an average monthly salary of 12, 200 SAR (₱180,936.89).
A nurse’s salary is highly dependent on their qualifications, experiences, gender, and workplace. For instance, entry-level nurses earn a minimum salary of 6, 480 SAR (₱96,104.18), whereas senior nurses earn as much as 18, 600 SAR (₱275,854.6) monthly.
Demand for Nurses
The worldwide healthcare sector has been put under a tremendous strain by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the shortage in nurses has caused an increased number of job opportunities for nurses and other healthcare workers. A study by Alluhidan, M, et al., shows that there were a total of 184,565 nurses in KSA during 2018. Among these, only 70,319 or 38% of the nurses were citizens of KSA. This reveals that the majority of the nurses working in the country are foreign-educated nurses, whose citizens are mostly Indian, Filipino, and Malaysian.
The Hospitals in KSA are divided into three classifications: public facilities, private facilities, and military hospitals.
Citizens of the KSA are able to receive free treatment from public facilities. Some of the known public facilities in KSA are the King Fahad Medical City and the King Saud Medical City, Riyadh. These are also known as some of the largest public facilities in the country.
Some of the private facilities in KSA are Aldara Hospital & Medical Center, Riyadh, Saudi German Hospital, Jeddah, Dr. Erfan & Bagedo Hospital, Jeddah, SAAD Medical Centre, and the Soliman Fakeeh Hospital, Jeddah.
Among the private facilities, the Soliman Fakeeh Hospital, Jeddah, is known as the largest private hospital in KSA.
Military hospitals provide treatment for the personnel of Saudi Arabia’s military forces, and their families. There are two branches of the armed forces, namely, the Saudi Arabian National Guard (SANG) and the Ministry of Defence and Aviation (MODA).
Saudi Arabian National Guard (SANG)
SANG is the military branch that is primarily concerned with domestic threats. Their hospitals offer care to Saudi Arabian National Guard personnel and their family. Their hospitals are King Abdulaziz Medical City, Riyadh, Imam Abdulrahman Al Faisal Hospital, Dammam, King Abdulaziz Hospital, Al Ahsa, and the Prince Mohammed Bin Abdulaziz Hospital, Medina.
Ministry of Defence and Aviation (MODA)
MODA primarily protects individuals against external dangers. The Saudi Arabian Army, Royal Saudi Naval Forces, Royal Saudi Air Force, and Royal Saudi Air Defence are all part of the MODA. MODA hospitals primarily cater for MODA troops, and their dependents. Their hospitals include the Prince Sultan Military Medical City, Prince Sultan Cardiac Center, Riyadh, King Fahad Armed Forces Hospital, Jeddah, Sharurah Armed Forces Hospital, Sharurah, and the Armed Forces Hospital at King AbdulAziz Airbase, Al Khobar.
In order to become a registered nurse in KSA, you must be a holder of a bachelor’s degree in nursing from any recognized university. Included in your bachelor’s degree program is a general education coursework, which will serve as an addition to your nurse training.
As the nursing sector begins to grow more competitive, more employers are requiring RNs to acquire a bachelor’s degree prior to getting accepted. This is because a bachelor’s degree equips nurses with a more extensive set of skills and knowledge as compared to an associate’s degree.
You must also have an active license acquired from an accredited licensing establishment in your home country.
Although most establishments would require international nurses to have at least 2-3 years of experience in the field of nursing, KSA allows newly graduated nurses, who do not have any work experience, to work in the country.
KSA requires that your academic documents are carefully verified and assessed on whether they meet the country’s standards.
In order to be able to work as a nurse in the country, you must have your credentials verified by DataFlow, a leading global provider of specialized Primary Source Verification (PSV) solutions. They also do background checks, and immigration compliance services, and they help reduce the risk by revealing fake education degrees, career histories, practice licenses, work permits, and passports, among other personal and professional papers.
You must submit a photocopy of the following documents to DataFlow: bachelor degree, academic transcript, active nursing license, passport, and statement of service, in order to verify your credentials.
In order to become a foreign-educated nurse in the KSA, you are required to pass the Prometric Examination.
The Prometric Exam for Nurses (or the Saudi Council Examination) is an evaluation and qualification exam for nurses seeking employment in the KSA. In order to take the Prometric Exam, you must first register with the Mumaris Plus. Once you have successfully completed your application and registration, the Saudi Commission For Health Specialties (SCFHS) will inform Mumaris Plus. They will also send you an email through the email address you provided in your application with the Mumaris Plus. The email will direct you to the Prometric website, where you will be able to fill up the needed information. After you pay the required fee of $239 (which may be subject to change), you will receive a confirmation email.
In order to be qualified to work as a nurse in the KSA, you must acquire a minimum of 45% of the score to pass the exam if you are a nurse technician. Similarly, you must acquire a minimum score of 50% in the exam if you are a nurse specialist. Your Prometric exam results are delivered immediately to the SCFHS. After around two weeks, you will receive your “Professional Classification”, which will allow you to travel to the KSA.
It is highly recommended that you take the test in your own country prior to traveling to Saudi Arabia. In addition, you may only attempt to take the exam three times.
Make sure that you prepare for the examinations well in order to secure high scores. Prepare the necessary documents as well so that you will not encounter any delays in the process. Once you have successfully submitted all the requirements, you are one step closer to becoming a nurse in the KSA.
- Alluhidan, M., Tashkandi, N., Alblowi, F., Omer, T., Alghaith, T., & Alghodaier, H. et al. (2020). Challenges and policy opportunities in nursing in Saudi Arabia. Human Resources For Health, 18(1). doi: 10.1186/s12960-020-00535-2
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