How I became a…Nurse in the UK

Mariana Muňoz Carrera, a nurse with Cambridge University Hospital, shares her story of relocating from Spain to the UK to pursue her Nursing career and advice on how to settle into a new country.

Can you tell us about your background? When did you first realise you wanted to become a nurse.

I have been working as a nurse for 15 years. Since I was a child, I knew I wanted to look after people. Instead of dressing my dolls, I used to put bandages on them and pretend that they were in a hospital. I have been working in several departments since I graduated in 2003, such as Emergency, Theatre, Oncology, General Medicine, Surgical, Nursing Home, Maternity, Community and Respiratory.

Where did you study? Tell me about some of your placements during college.

I studied in the Red Cross School of Nursing in Seville (Spain). During my placements, I was able to work in different departments and my mentors showed me how to work independently and also as part of a team. I was able to learn how to perform several techniques such as venepuncture, catheter insertion, blood tests, nasogastric tube insertion, wound management, vital signs monitoring, medication administration etc. This gave me varied experience both theoretical and practical.

How did you get your current job?

A friend of mine was preparing her paperwork for working in the UK and I started to become interested in the prospect. She came to the UK with the help of Cpl Healthcare so I decided to apply for one of their job offers also. They got in touch and helped me with the NMC registration and interview preparation. I went to Madrid for the interview and Cambridge University Hospital offered me the job.

What nursing specialty do you work in?

I have been working in the Respiratory Ward since October 2014. I am very happy there. I have the opportunity to specialise in a particular area which I couldn’t do in Spain as I only had temporary jobs. I enjoy working as part of a team where we can all come together and deliver excellence in care. I also have the opportunity to grow and develop in my career and I enjoy a lot teaching and mentoring junior staff and students.

Why did you want to work as a nurse in the UK?

I wanted to gain more experience as a nurse in a different environment. I think working in a different country can give you fresh perspective and new career opportunities. It is a big challenge but I am delighted to meet different people and to learn from other professionals. Each hospital is different so a hospital in a different country is even more eye opening. I’ve enriched my knowledge about policies and procedures in nursing and medicine and have widened my vision of the field.

What are the differences between working as a nurse in the UK compared to Spain?

In Spain we don’t have trainings, when we study Nursing, we learn the skills so when we are qualified our competencies include venepuncture and all the procedures that, for example, in the UK, the physician assistants do. We don’t have specialist nurses in Spain either. We work as a team with doctors and healthcare assistants but we don’t have the same support from a big team.

Did you find it hard to get settled in the UK?

At first, it was hard to feel settled. I had a one way ticket to the UK so it was difficult to accept that Cambridge was my new home. It took me a few months to come around but then I decided to make the most of the experience and focus on the positives such as learning from my colleagues and embracing the fact that I was living and working abroad.

What skills do you think are most important to have in your role?

The basic nursing skills such as venepuncture, taking bloods, wound dressing and tube insertion are essential from a nursing point of view. As an independent professional, a nurse should be able to perform these procedures so we can provide the best care to our patients. For example, if a patient needs an IV medication and I am able to get IV access, the patient would benefit from me being able to treat them as soon as possible. 

What advice would you give to nurses like you, looking to get started in the UK?

I would encourage nurses to come to work in the UK as it gives you the opportunity to become more independent both personally and professionally. Working in a different country gives you a brand new environment to learn from and enriches the knowledge that you already have from your previous experiences. You can keep learning and improving your nursing care. You can also specialise and even try different aspects of nursing such as mentoring, teaching, research, etc.

You’ve written a book about your experience, what made you decide to do this?

When I started working as a nurse in the UK, I found the system very different from the Spanish system. This is why I decided to write about the things that I would have liked to know about before coming to the UK, so I could give others a picture of how things work here. I think that if you have some basic knowledge beforehand,  you won’t feel as anxious or stressed about starting a new job in a different country.

Interested in pursuing a nursing career in the UK like Mariana?

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6 ways to overcome job interview anxiety

It is impossible not to suffer from some anxiety when going for a job interview, amplified even more when the interview is for your dream job. So, what can we do to manage this stress?

First, accept that being nervous is normal, especially if you’ve been job hunting for a while. The day you least expect to get the phone call is the day you find out it’s time for interview. Here are some simple ways to prepare and ease any fears.

  • Prepare for questions about the company

This shows you’re interested, enthusiastic and will help reduce any anxiety over unexpected company related questions. For example, when interviewing for a hospital, you should know how many beds there are, what departments there are and anything that differentiates the hospital.

  • Know yourself

Get to know yourself better as you will be asked about your strengths and weaknesses. Ensure you’re comfortable with your answers and that they reflect both your soft skills and skills related to the job spec.

An essential strength for a Nurse would be empathy or compassion, which you should explain through a time where you demonstrated it. Backing it up with a story will prove much more valuable.

  • Practice makes perfect

Do a mock interview with a friend or family member in the run up to the big day. Prepare for questions like “Why did you become a Nurse?” and “Why would you like to work for this hospital?”

This will help you to grow accustomed to answering certain types of questions and make you feel more confident on the day.

  • Go in with a positive attitude

A good attitude and enthusiasm for the job will always help you in interview. There is no need to memorise your answers or follow a specific script. Your interviewer wants to get to know you as a person – not the perfectly rehearsed candidate you are pretending to be.

  • Do something other than interview prep

Take some exercise in the build up to the interview. Regular exercise can improve your memory and thinking skills. This will help you feel more relaxed while doing an interview and your thoughts will be more organised.

  • Breath!

One of the best was to relax is through your breathing. If you feel anxious or nervous during the interview, concentrate on deep and slow breathing.

Try to reduce your natural acceleration by speaking slowly and listening carefully to the questions. Focus on what you are being asked and take a few seconds before rushing to respond.

Above all, don’t forget that an interview is just a conversation with another person like you! When you are prepared, knowledgeable and positive, the experience becomes a lot less intimidating.

If you have any questions or want some further tips on preparing an interview, then please get in touch at or call me on +353 91 507527

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3 reasons why you’re not getting the Pharmacy Interviews you want

Whether you are a newly qualified Pharmacy graduate or a more experienced Pharmacist looking to move up the career ladder, looking for a job can cause a great deal of stress. Often, people stay in their jobs due to the simple fact that they don’t want to go through the change process – which can be long and drawn out, not to mention the fear factor of leaving their comfort zone.

From my own personal experience, I see lots of Pharmacy jobseekers go through this stress when considering a job change. I never tell people that making that change is easy, but if you have the desire and willingness to succeed and are ready to fight for it, then you can make it happen. If you’re struggling then it could be down to one, or all, of these common job hunting mistakes:

  1. You’re not networking

 Are you networking? If your answer is no, then why not? Not all jobs are advertised so sometimes, you have go beyond the daily flick through the job boards and think how can you find the pharmacy job you want.

Just because a website lists ‘no current vacancies at present’ it doesn’t mean that there aren’t opportunities available. By networking you will build your own professional network and connect with people who may be able to introduce you to people who are currently working for your organisation of choice.

Start by attending an event that the organisation is linked to, where you can network with other delegates. If the event in question is too expensive to get into, then look to volunteer at it. Talk to your past and present colleagues, previous lecturers and you will find that someone somewhere will possibly be the connection you need that will get you closer to your dream job.

You could also try writing a series of blogs. In doing this, you can showcase your knowledge to your network. If you don’t try and put yourself, your work and your experience out there then your dream job may just remain a dream and never become a reality.

  1. Your CV lets you down

Most people assume that one CV will suffice for all positions that they are applying for. This is 100% incorrect and is probably why you are not getting called for the Pharmacy Job interviews you want. Why would the one CV work for all the vacancies that you apply for?

If you are applying for a Hospital Pharmacy position but your CV is tailored towards Community Pharmacy, then this isn’t going to come across well to the hiring manager who is reviewing your CV.

You MUST target the correct area of practice, otherwise it will result in you falling at the first hurdle. If you need advice on your CV, talk to your recruiter. If you don’t have a recruiter then get one. They are experts in this field. As the saying goes ‘you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression’.

  1. Your job search isn’t proactive

It’s easy to spot a job online, attach a CV and click submit. In doing so many people tend to send their CV off for more vacancies than they are really interested in and fail to pay enough attention to detail.

We are all busy which is why it can be difficult when applying for a new opportunity, but if you fail to put the time and effort in, then how can you expect to get a job out of it! In my experience, if you’re proactive and do the following simple things you’ll get results:

  • Choose 2/3 vacancies that you really interested in and focus on these
  • Pay attention to spelling mistakes in your cover letter
  • Avoid using the wrong address or marking the cover letter to “To whom it may concern.” Instead identify the hiring manager’s name or the HR contact and then address the cover letter for their attention

If your feeling particularly fearless you could even ask for a job interview, again this can be done via contacting the hiring manager directly. After all, if you don’t ask you won’t get! Yes, it takes you out of your comfort zone but if you get the reward you want, then it will be well worth the time invested.

If you carefully plan and implement a strategic approach to your job search while ensuring to address these 3 points, you can and should get the Pharmacy job interviews you want. The market is extremely competitive across the Pharmacy sector but if you follow this advice, you’ll make finding your dream Pharmacy job a lot less stressful.

Interested in a new Pharmacy job?

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If you would like to talk to me directly about pharmacy opportunities, get in touch at

International Men’s Health Week: Small Steps to Improve Men’s Health

From Monday 11th June to Sunday 17th June, we celebrate International Men’s Health Week. This year’s theme is centred on the words of Astronaut Neil Armstrong, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

To mark the occasion in Cpl Healthcare, we asked a number of our male colleagues to share what small step they have taken to improve their health this year.

Niall McDevitt, Managing Director, Cpl Healthcare

I am 38 years old and as I get older, I’ve become much more conscious of my overall health and how I take care of myself. This year, I have decided to take on the challenge of running a marathon. I am now four months into training and am thoroughly enjoying the regular exercise. The knock-on effect has been great, my sleeping is better, I am thinking clearer and have much more energy. The positive impact kicked in almost immediately. My advice is to set your goal and take it one step at a time to achieve it.

Paolo Lodi, International Sourcing Specialist, Cpl Healthcare

My small step to improve men’s health is going to be encouraging my own network to get active. I always try to show my friends how beneficial it is to do any physical movement each day. We don’t need to work out for hours to improve the quality of our life: we just need to do some activity every day. Regularity is what makes the difference! In line with this idea, I’ve also started cycling to work. This daily physical exercise offers me the chance to keep my body trained and healthy.  And it’s also beneficial for my mind: I strongly believe in the Latins’ idea mens sana in corpore sano, a healthy mind in a healthy body.

Alan Duffy, Graphic Designer, Cpl Healthcare

Back in January I decided to get back in the saddle and cycle to work at least 3 days a week. It was tough at first but not even the storms and the snow could stop me! It’s been 6 months now and I’ve never felt better.

The health benefits of exercise, both physical and mental, cannot be overestimated. Physically, I’m fitter, healthier and more flexible. Mentally, the process of not thinking about anything except getting where I need to go is incredibly meditative. The energy, otherwise wasted on potential anxiety about the day, has been spent and helps me to adopt a calmer state of mind.

Self care is hugely important in any person’s life. Even in this day and age, men are still less inclined to admit they need to improve their physical and mental health. Exercise is hugely beneficial for mind and body so get out there and get moving, men!

Kevin Kelly, Senior Recruitment Consultant, Cpl Healthcare

Since the start of the year, I’ve started to make a real effort to increase my physical activity. This is not always easy with two young kids at home. Jogging is something that I enjoy a lot. Being based in an office environment, with artificial lighting and air conditioning, it is great to get out in the evenings to stretch my legs and get some fresh air.  I try to get out jogging every other night for somewhere between 30-50 minutes. One super initiative I used this year in my quest to get back running, was Parkrun. These take place every Saturday in parks all around the world, with 77 locations in Ireland alone. The goal of parkrun is to promote inclusiveness and wellbeing through their free, weekly 5km timed runs. The events welcome runners at all levels from trained athletes to individuals who have never ran in their life. I would definitely recommend checking them out.

Learn more about the Men’s Health Forum in Ireland

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How to Prepare for a Skype Nursing Interview

Skype interviews are becoming more and more common place, especially when it comes to international nursing positions. Interviewing on Skype gives you the opportunity to interview for your dream nursing job – without having to travel.

With this comes great accessibility, but also some stress over how to effectively convey your personality and skill set over video.

The following tips will help you get around these worries and ensure you succeed at your next Skype nursing interview.

 1. Prepare the interview setting

First and foremost, make sure you are alone in the room and where possible, lock the door to avoid any disturbances! Your interviewer needs to be able to hear you and see you clearly, so make sure that you login to your Skype account in advance and that you have a good quality Internet connection. Also, be sure to speak up. Even if you have checked that everything is working as it should be, sometimes you cannot avoid outside noise creeping in, so speak loudly and clearly.

2. Dress interview appropriate

You may be interviewing from the comfort of your home, but that doesn’t mean that you can dress that way. Non verbal cues become even more important when you can’t interview face to face, so keep your appearance professional. Dressing this way will also help you switch into professional mode mentally and keep you focused.

3. Don’t assume anything

Give as much detail as possible to showcase your complete knowledge and training. Describe your previous work experience, your internships during university and your post-graduate experience too. Do not assume that the people on the screen know everything about nursing. Show off every aspect of your expertise to the interviewing panel.

4. Do your research

It is easy to talk about the things you know, like nursing! However, the interview panel will want to find out what you know about the hospital and why you want to work there.  Research the hospital’s values, the area that the hospital is based in, what you like and what you are eager to find out more about. This shows how serious you are about  the opportunity. Also, prepare questions for the interviewers, this makes you look more interested.

5. Practice

As awkward, as it may feel speaking to a screen, it’s important that you look as natural as possible. Do practice runs with a friend or your recruiter and record it. This way you can see exactly how you look on video and correct any quirks in advance such as where to best position the camera or what to do with your hands. Also, you can get some useful feedback. All these little things will help you feel more comfortable on the day.


Think you’re now ready for your next skype interview?

Get in touch with me on 00353 1 482 5426 or email your CV in English to  I’d be happy to prepare you and get you all set up with one of the many trusts that are hiring.


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