Becoming a Nurse in Portugal: 8 Essential Steps

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Portugal boasts one of Europe’s top healthcare systems, ranking 13th overall. The country’s healthcare is of high quality and consistently improving. Portugal offers free public healthcare, funded through taxation, providing medical procedures, preventive care, and diagnosis services to its citizens and legal residents.

The recent surge in COVID-19 cases has placed immense pressure on Portugal’s healthcare system, necessitating an increase in healthcare professionals, including doctors and nurses. The need for additional nursing staff is particularly urgent, given their critical role in patient care. To address this demand, Portugal is considering hiring domestic and foreign nurses to bolster its healthcare workforce.

For a detailed overview of the nursing career path in Portugal and the steps to becoming a nurse in the country, continue reading.

How To Become A Nurse in Portugal

1. Find a Portuguese University Offering a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing

Nursing programs in Portugal typically span four years. To become a nurse in Portugal, you must enroll in a Portuguese university that offers nursing programs. Notable institutions include the Cooperative dez Ensino Superior Politécnico e Universitário (CESPU), The University of Minho School of Nursing, and Universidade de Trás-Os-Montes e Alto Douro (UTAD). Visit their websites to explore their offerings and ensure they meet your expectations for nursing education.

2. Choose Your Nursing Career Path

Students can specialize in various nursing fields, such as adult nursing, children’s nursing, mental health nursing, or young adult nursing. Regardless of the chosen path, Portuguese institutions provide a solid foundation in nursing, combining theoretical knowledge with practical training.

3. Complete the Nursing Degree and Obtain a Diploma

Portuguese nursing programs integrate both theoretical and practical components. Lectures, seminars, technical sessions, and clinical practice help students develop their nursing skills. Completing the four-year program requires a diploma from the chosen university.

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4. Language Proficiency for International Students and Nurses

Language proficiency is essential for international students and nurses wishing to study or work in Portugal. They need advanced levels of English and Portuguese language skills, as instruction is in both languages.

5. Submit Requirements and Obtain a Diploma (International Students)

After obtaining the language proficiency certificate, international students can submit the required documents for studying in Portugal. Basic requirements may include:

  • Language proficiency certificate
  • High school diploma or secondary education completion certificate
  • Proof of identity
  • Non-EU international students may need to take an entrance examination.

Visit the immigration authorities’ website to understand all requirements for studying in Portugal.

6. Register with the Portuguese Nursing Society

Upon completing the nursing degree and obtaining the necessary qualifications, submit an application for registration with the Portuguese Nursing Society. This registration is essential to work as a nurse in the country.

7. Qualifications for Foreign Nurses

Foreign nurses seeking to work in Portugal must submit their applications to the Portuguese Nursing Society and provide various documents, including proof of nationality, professional certificates, proof of experience, criminal record checks, medical fitness certificates, and proof of financial standing and insurance. These documents must be notarized and legalized by the relevant authorities in their home country.

8. Seek Employment in Portugal

Once your application is approved, you can work in Portugal and provide healthcare services. Ensure your finances are sufficient to cover the cost of living in the country. You can choose to work in the public or private healthcare sector.

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How much is a nurse paid in Portugal per month?

The average monthly salary for nurses in Portugal can vary based on experience and location. As of February 2021, nearly half of the approximately 45,500 nurses in Portugal’s national health service earned around 1,205 euros per month before tax. After-tax deductions, some nurses took home as little as 980 euros, slightly above the minimum wage. This pay scale has been a contention, with many Portuguese nurses advocating for better compensation to reflect their essential roles, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Can I work in Portugal as a nurse?

To work as a nurse in Portugal, you need to have your qualifications notarized and legalized by the relevant authority, along with a clean criminal record. You will also require a fiscal number, proof of residency, and a declaration from your nursing body. All of these documents need to be officially translated. Necessary forms and information can be found on the Ordem dos Enfermeiros (Portuguese Nursing Society) website.

Does Portugal pay nurses well?

The average annual salary for a Registered Nurse in Portugal is approximately €31,626, with an hourly rate of about €15. While this salary may be considered competitive in some regions, it has sparked debates in Portugal due to the demanding nature of nursing work, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many nurses argue for higher wages to reflect their contributions to the healthcare system better.

What do you need to be a nurse in Portugal?

To work as a nurse in Portugal, a bachelor’s degree in nursing is commonly required. The degree must be from a nursing school accredited by a Portuguese government agency. Sometimes, a nursing diploma from a reputable nursing school may be accepted instead of a nursing degree.

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In which country are nurses highly paid?

Luxembourg is currently the highest-paid country in the world for nurses. Nurses in Luxembourg earn an average annual salary of approximately $97,857. The country’s high salaries make it an attractive destination for nurses seeking competitive compensation.

Which countries pay nurses the least?

Nurses are paid less than the national average wage in countries such as Finland, Latvia, France, Switzerland, and Lithuania. The salary ratio to the average wage is notably low in these countries. For example, in France, the ratio is 0.91, and in Switzerland, it’s 0.88. Conversely, countries like Spain, the Czech Republic, and Poland have higher salary ratios, making them relatively better-paying options for nurses.

Which country is best for nurses to save money?

Switzerland is known for having one of the highest nurse salaries globally, with an average annual salary of around $85,000. Canada and Germany also offer competitive salaries, with average annual earnings of approximately $75,000 and $65,000, respectively. These countries provide attractive salaries and the potential for nurses to save money while working in their healthcare systems.

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