Moving from U.S. to Germany as a qualified nurse

Advice on making a successful relocation

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michigannurse
This is the first time I have ever used a forum so hopefully I get some good use out of it. So here's my story.

I'm a 22 year old woman that has lived in Michigan my whole life. I recently graduated from my university education with a bachelor's degree in nursing. After I pass my boards (hopefully), I will be a registered nurse. I'm just starting a job at the hospital in my area. With that being said, I am in a serious and wonderful relationship with my 31 year old boyfriend of a year and a half. He's a mechanical engineer from the Frankfurt area that's coming to the end of his American contract at the end of October. We have no doubts that we want to be together forever. Doesn't that sound cheesy? But we do. He has asked me to move over there to Germany with him.

So what do I do? I have traveled a lot and him and I took a vacation over there last September so I could meet his friends and family. I do want to go over there, but I just want to make sure that I have covered all the bases and that I am making an informed decision. I figure that I could go over there and try it out for a year or two and see what happens.

I don't know how nursing is over in Germany, but working as a nurse isn't a huge deal to me. If I have to work in another field, I would, but I do know that it's hard to get a job over there. His job pays him well and I have about $500/month of student loan payments coming at me starting in December. Yikes! So if anyone out there has any advice for me, I would appreciate it. Of course my family and friends would love for us to stay here and vice versa with his side. I'm trying to get an unbiased opinion.

Just let me know. Thanks.
strawberrystar
(I'm a teacher so know nothing about nursing...) Maybe there is an American nurse out there whom can shed some light on if your hard work (and money!) can pay off and get you a job in Germany. What about the Army bases.??

But the biggest question: How is your German? That will help you get a job in other areas. Sure you've used the search button to check out the fun of getting a working permit. Plus new laws about Germans marrying non-EU forgein who only speak German, so I hope your German is good.

Sounds like you have taken the right steps in going slowly. It's a hard decision & a big move isn't easy. There'll be many highs and lows but if he's the one, it's worth it. GOOD LUCK!
gtappend
First of all I would finish your qualification before moving permanently. It can be a pain getting qualifications recognised here, but it's even more of a problem to get unfinished courses recognised and you might end up starting all over again (ie. 3 years training). Also, if it doesn't work out, you can return to the States and have qualification that is valid there at the very least.

To work in Germany you would almost certainly need to learn some German, especially in nursing. If you don't mind a change of career, try to get a ToEFL course under your belt before you come here and teach English on a private basis - but you won't be the only person in Frankfurt doing that! Finding a job as a nurse might actually be easier, but unless you find something like with the US medical staff then you'll need not only basic German but medical German as well.

Here are some useful links:
My podcast about moving to Germany
An insurer who specialises in working visitors to Germany
Some advice on finding a job
A book about living and working in Germany
My wife's online CV in German who just happens to be a nurse :-)
Carm
Finish your school, that is important... if you do a search thru the nursing organizations you will find Placement agencies that move your around the world, as there is a world wide shortage of qualified nurses. I knew alot of US and Canadian Trained Nurses that worked here in Munich. These placement agencies basically get you a job over her in Germany. Look into it. I even think the German Nurses Assoc has a web page with the requirments for working here.
dcgirl
If you'll be in/near Frankfurt, there should be some US military bases nearby. I would start looking for a job there until you get a handle on speaking German. This site lists positions specific to the US Army, but I'm sure there are plenty more out there. The new laws requiring non-EU spouses to speak German prior to arrival do not apply to US citizens, so don't worry about that (only applies to citizens of countries that require a visa to visit Germany). Definitely take your boards and finish up any loose ends regarding your qualifications before you leave. Once you're here, you will be required to take an integration course or language course (usually 4 hours a day, 5 days a week, for 3-6 months), so you'll need to take that into consideration when looking for a job.

The move and transition is really stressful, but it's totally worth it. Once you get settled in a bit, you'll love it. Best of luck!
BadDoggie
Like everyone else said, finish your boards and qualifications. And start learning German, both conversational and medical terminology (quite different here -- I used to have to get my doctor to explain things using the Latin terms because I didn't understand a word he said). CTS, for example, is "Sehnenscheidenentz√ľndung" although "Karpaltunnelsyndrome" is slowly picking up in popularity. A majority of the litany of drugs you're used to aren't available here and those that are usually require a prescription. We don't have such basic items as cortisone cream (not even 0.25%) nor pseudoephedrine, and analgesics are only available at pharmacies at about 10x the normal cost. On the plus side, most illnesses here are caused by "cold kidneys" or weather changes, and most are treated with three days' sick leave and perhaps some magnesium, calcium or zinc tablets.

I think gtappend meant "TESL", not "ToEFL" (being able to pass the ToEFL has nothing to do with teaching students to prepare for it), but I can't think of any reason a registered nurse would want to work as an English teacher.

woof.
HEM
Plus new laws about Germans marrying non-EU forgein who only speak German, so I hope your German is good.
IMHO these restrictions regarding knowledge of German language do not apply to US citizens (& certain others).
gtappend
I think gtappend meant "TESL", not "ToEFL" (being able to pass the ToEFL has nothing to do with teaching students to prepare for it), but I can't think of any reason a registered nurse would want to work as an English teacher.
I can't either - unless she couldn't get a job in nursing.

I did mean ToEFL - ie. to be able to teach English as a foreign language on a private basis. Not TESL (English as a second language, eg. if you are teaching international students).

I'm not suggesting anyone tries teaching students to pass ToEFL themselves! (ie. tuition for students who themselves want to teach English).

There's an interesting piece on that here.

This piece about integrating in your newly chosen country is also interesting.

(Maybe a bit early, but the same author has written a piece on bilingual kids. )
Brenda
Hi there

I am currently going through the process of registering here as a midwife. My qualifications are from NZ. It's a bit of paperwork and you need to prove EXACTLY what theory you have covered (down to the hours involved) and of course prove the practical experience you have had. You also need to have German to a level of B1 (this is some sort of exam or language skill test to ascertain that you can speak the basics). My advice is similar to the others - contact the military hospitals as I think that the rules are different (i.e - you would be employed by for example the American military) so it may be a lot easier to get a foot in the door that way!

As for how it is here... Hmmm, It is hard and a bit of a rollercoaster ride in all aspects but as you become used to the different ways and start gaining confidence in your new surroundings then it all becomes worth it especially if you have a supportive partner... My biggest advice would be to learn the language so you can participate in all things German from the beginning...

Good Luck.

If you decide to come, PM me and I'll email you the forms you will need to register here as a nurse.

Good luck.
BadDoggie
I did mean ToEFL
You couldn't have. ToEFL is "Test of English as a Foreign Language". It's the basic standard required by US schools for non-native English speakers.

You meant one of these:
* TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language): teaching people who want to use English for business, leisure, travel, etc., in their own countries
* TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language): teaching immigrants in English-speaking countries or preparing people in their native countries for emigration to or a prolonged stay in an English-speaking country
* TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages): covered by TEFL and TESL.

woof.
Keydeck
* TOPOL: Israeli actor chappie.
* TEFAL: French cookware manufacturer
gtappend
You couldn't have. ToEFL is "Test of English as a Foreign Language". It's the basic standard required by US schools for non-native English speakers.
Then I meant TEFL - which is the term I learnt when I first came here. These days everyone I know calls it ToEFL when they mean TEFL. Perhaps they have american roots?
Genie
Don't forget:

TEUFEL: horny dude from down under
TOPOLEV: Russian flying thingie
silty1
A couple of practical things to consider:

If you are a fully qualified nurse, your skills would be in demand depending on where you live and the kind of nursing you do. But your employer would require you have a residence and work visa. It is MUCH easier to get them if you're married to a German. They don't care if you're common-law.

Also: depending on how long it takes you to start working, considering that you'll be earning in euros and assuming the currency market doesn't do a complete reversal, that US$500 per month won't be that much out of pocket.

hth
Sanwald
If you're a nurse and living near Frankfurt you could look into getting a job at one of the US military health Care facilities. You won't have to pay the German taxes, if you get hired from the US they will pay to move you here, and pay your housing expenses on top of your salary. You won't have tp worry about learning German to work, won't need a German work permit, have access to US products, and cheap gas, easier to register and maintain your car.

Something to think about.
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