If you’ve dreamed of working in Saudi Arabia (or the Middle East in general), then you’re in luck! Not only does Saudi Arabia offer high paying, competitive jobs to nurses around the world, but working with Helen Ziegler makes the transition to the Middle East fairly easy and straightforward. There are a lot of nuances to working in the Middle East, and because I’m an American trained nurse (BSN), working in Saudi Arabia, I can only speak to my personal experience with this process.
Below, I’ll be addressing getting a job as an RN in Saudi Arabia, (although many of these steps can be applied to other areas in the Middle East as well), and what you can generally expect out of this process.
A Guide to Getting a Nursing Job in the Middle East With Helen Ziegler
About Helen Ziegler/Where They Staff
Helen Ziegler is a Canadian based company that places nurses (and allied healthcare specialties) in Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, and Qatar. They’ve been around since 1981 and help license nurses from the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, the UK, and Western Europe.
If you’re interested in pursing a job in the Middle East, you can view open nursing jobs here.
What to Expect – A Step by Step Guide
The following steps are a generalization of what you can expect to happen as you get your nursing license in Saudi Arabia. Some steps are interchangeable, but for the most part, these are the things that you can expect. Also, don’t be overwhelmed by this list! Helen Ziegler makes this process as easy as possible and they send very detailed emails every step of the way on what you should be completing and when. It’s also important to note that different hospitals in Saudi Arabia may have different requirements. Again, this is my personal experience.
- Initial phone call with the Helen Ziegler team to talk about general expectations
- Application form
- Work history/employment certificates/verification of employment
- Original nursing license (first state you worked in as an RN)
- Skills checklist/general “test” of unit you’re working on
- Submission to Dataflow/Mumaris+ for licensure (this is completed by Helen Ziegler)
- Take the Saudi “NCLEX” (this will be reimbursed)
- Criminal background check
- 4 passport photos
- Mail your passport to the Saudi embassy in Washington to receive a visa
- Get a full physical with blood work (CBC, pregnancy test, syphilis, HIV, etc), proof of vaccines, and a chest x-ray (this will be reimbursed)
- Sign contracts/documents
Tips for Interviewing
I interviewed at two separate hospitals in Saudi Arabia and landed both jobs. The following tips are what I would suggest for nailing your interview!
- Be enthusiastic/show personality – The people interviewing you are more than likely a mix of foreigners and locals. They will be a big part of your life and not only will they want to work with a competent nurse, but a nurse that they feel like they’d “get along with”. Don’t be afraid to show some personality, talk about your interests, etc.
- Brag about yourself – Talk about the cool things that you’ve done in your career whether that’s taking care of a 22-week baby, or being involved in a trauma, etc. Talk about your skill set and the different hospitals you’ve worked in, what your responsibilities were, etc.
- Talk about why you want to work in X country – Make sure to touch on why you want to experience nursing in a different culture and talk about any experience you might already have working in a country different from your own. If you’ve ever been a volunteer nurse, this would also be a good time to talk about it to show that you’d adaptable to other cultures.
- Be humble – Don’t act like a know it all and show compassion and acceptance for learning a new culture and way of life. Nursing in the Middle East is going to be much different than what you’re used to and you need to show that you have an open mind and a “can do” attitude.
- Dress appropriately – I highly suggest covering your chest and arms if you’re interviewing for a job in the Middle East just to be respectful of everyone that will be speaking with you. For example, I wore a black turtleneck for my video interview.
- Always end an interview thanking everyone in the room and expressing your interest in the job. I also make sure to ask, “Is there anything else that you need to know about me to make a decision about hiring me?”
Another thing about the Middle East is that payment varies greatly between hospitals, countries, and nurses. You generally get paid based strongly off of where you’re from (what passport you hold), and what hospital you’re working at makes a big difference. (For example, I interviewed at two hospitals in Saudi Arabia and my salary differed by $15k).
You should also know that payment might not seem like “much”, but it’s tax-free and your living arrangements and transportation to work are all covered. So you might not be making as much, but you’ll definitely be bringing in more money and have fewer bills. For reference, I’m currently making less than I was making as a travel nurse, but more than I was making as a staff nurse.
If you do get a job in the Middle East, here are some negotiation tips you can use to negotiate for a higher salary…
- If they offer you less than you’re currently making, I would bring that up and let it be known that you’re used to making more money than what they are offering.
- List out all of your skills and why you’d be a good fit for the hospital – make them WANT you. If you’re good at educating, let it be known that not only will you be fulfilling a bedside role, but you’ll also aide in educating the staff while you’re at work. If you like being a preceptor, make sure to let them know you’re particularly skilled at teaching new nurses. And so on.
- Know your bottom dollar. Before you start negotiating, know what you won’t accept and walk away. I personally don’t think that working in the Middle East is worth it for money alone, so if that’s your driving factor, you probably won’t be happy.
The only thing that I wasn’t pleased about with Helen Ziegler is I don’t feel as though they disclosed *working hours* as well as they could have/should have. It’s common throughout the Middle East to work over 3 shifts/week, in fact, you’re commonly working 4 shifts/week. This might help you when you’re negotiating to know that you’ll be working more hours than a typical nurse back home.
If you’re interested in hearing more about why I chose to move to Saudi Arabia and what it’s like, don’t miss: