Need to upskill English language capability highest among nursing professionals

Cambridge Boxhill Language Assessment

• A new Whitepaper from Cambridge Boxhill Language Assessment (CBLA) highlights the increasing demand for better English language skills among healthcare professionals (HCPs)

• Nearly 70 per cent of HCPs who took the Occupational English Test (OET) between September 2018 – July 2019 indicated nursing as their chosen profession.
A new whitepaper from CBLA has highlighted how trends in global healthcare are placing increasing demands on the communication skills of healthcare professionals, and how these are traditionally given less attention than they now merit.
Taking a medical history is the most common ‘procedure’ that healthcare professionals perform, yet communication skills have traditionally been given far less attention, if any, in healthcare education and practice.
Nursing candidates, one of the primary assessors of a patient’s history, account for nearly 70 percent of those who have taken the only health sector-specific English language assessment in Australia, according to the latest data from CBLA.
This was followed by general medicine (17.4%) and pharmacy (5.3%), making nursing the clear standout over any other profession by more than two-thirds.
The significant weighting of nurses taking the assessment follows recent changes in English language skills registration standards for nurses and midwives in Australia in March 2019, indicating that the OET test is well placed to help nurses meet these language qualifications.
“Nurses have always been by far the biggest healthcare cohort taking OET to come to Australia and New Zealand,” said CEO of Cambridge Boxhill Language Assessment, Sujata Stead.
“It is encouraging to see the uptake of OET by those entering or increasing their qualifications in the nursing sector as this directly contributes to the upskilling of a critical workforce in Australia.”
Professor Tim McNamara, developer of OET and a globally recognised language testing expert, says the test is often crucial for recruiters to attract ideal candidates as it offers assessments grounded in healthcare scenarios.
“Interviews often don’t allow the recruiters to predict how they would manage communication in the settings in the wards. However, with the OET test, the candidates are in charge of the interactions in the wards.
“This is crucial because nurses often have to reason with patients to do a number of different tasks, and limited language proficiency and communication skills is a known obstacle and to quality care.”
The OET replicates the critical tasks of the nursing workplace setting and measures candidates’ abilities in listening, reading, writing and speaking.
Test materials are developed in consultation with subject matter experts from the 12 healthcare professions that OET covers. From dentistry to medicine and radiography to veterinary science.
The whitepaper may be
/Public Release.