We’re talking surf, sand, and sun this week on ThriveAP. The long holiday weekend is making it difficult to snap out of vacation mode. So, we’ve decided to focus on how NPs can take their careers to popular vacation destinations. Earlier, we discussed how nurse practitioners can work in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Today, let’s take a look at how nurse practitioners can take their careers to a similar tropical location, the British Virgin Islands.
Unlike the process for the U.S. Virgin Islands, relocating to the British Virgin Islands as a certified nurse practitioner in the United States is quite different, and much more complex.
Becoming Licensed to Practice In the BVI
The Government of the Virgin Islands’ Nurses and Midwives Act of 2009 regulates the nursing profession through the Nurses and Midwives Council. The Act provides for the registration of nurses and related matters. Unlike in the U.S., it appears that there is not a separate registration needed to practice as a nurse practitioner.
The Act requires that NPs submit an application in writing to the Registrar as well as evidence of eligibility for registration, which includes proof of licensure, certification, and qualifications as a nurse practitioner in the United States. According to the Act, so long as you have been registered as a nurse in a foreign country, such as the United States, you may apply for registration as a nurse in the BVI.
What is needed to live and work in the British Virgin Islands?
If you are a European citizen certified as a nurse practitioner in the United States, in addition to registering as a nurse in the territory, you will likely only need a valid passport; however residents of certain European countries may be required to obtain a visa.
If you are an American citizen, you are required to obtain a work permit and may also be required to obtain a visa before beginning employment. Most importantly, before you are able to apply for a BVI work permit, an employer must offer you a job. Though it sounds easy enough, the employer is required to prove to the Labour Department that he or she has taken the necessary steps to find a qualified British Virgin Islander to fill the position first before seeking a work permit for a foreign employee.
The work permit process consists of four documents to be completed by both you and your employer. Along with the forms, your employer must also submit several documents on your behalf to the Labour Department. The documents include two passport photos, your CV, a copy of the photo and signature page of your passport, certified copies of your academic degree and professional qualifications, one professional reference, one character reference, a copy of your professional licenses, the job description of the vacancy being filled, and proof of local advertisement for the position. Once the permit is approved by the Labor Department, the average processing time is 7 – 10 business days.
Understanding the BVI’s healthcare system and governance
The British Virgin Islands’ healthcare system is based on a social insurance system; which is publicly funded and administered. The BVI Health Services Authority (BVI HSA) is in charge of operating the public health system and is responsible for providing medical, mental and dental health throughout various clinics and hospitals located across the islands. However, there are also a number of private facilities that also provide most health services needed by the public, including specialty treatments in dermatology, orthopedics, plastic surgery, etc.
While the United Kingdom’s National Health Service still does not recognize advanced practice nurses in the same manner as the United States, the BVI HSA does recruit nurse practitioners as part of its staff of medical professionals; though it is unclear if nurse practitioners in the BVI have as little autonomy and recognition as they do in the UK.
Despite boasting a diverse medical system, it is not uncommon for foreigners to the islands to return to their home countries for check-ups or preventative visits. And with St. Thomas just a 45 minute ferry ride away, many U.S. citizens who have maintained their health care insurance in the US chose to seek health services in the neighboring U.S. Virgin Islands. Given the complex process of working as a nurse practitioner and the unclear role of NPs in the British Virgin Islands, NPs seeking the island life may be best served doing the same.