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IELTS & TOEFL: Everything International Nurses Need To Know

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June 12, 2024

Healthcare Heartbeat is a show produced by Avant Healthcare Professionals for international healthcare professionals and hospital leaders. In this podcast, we provide tips and guidance on how to become a United States Registered Nurse, share valuable insights from Avant Healthcare Professionals’ subject-matter experts, and you’ll learn how Avant Healthcare Professionals transforms the lives of international healthcare professionals, hospitals, patients, and communities.

In This Episode...

On this episode of Healthcare Heartbeat, a podcast by Avant Healthcare Professionals, host Ross Herosian sits down with English Program Manager Jennifer Rives. They discuss Jennifer's role at Avant Healthcare Professionals, how the AEP department plays a role in the immigration process, and what is needed to ensure the success of our Avant RNs! 

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Meet Jennifer!

Jennifer's current role is English Program Manager at Avant Healthcare Professionals. She has been with the company for over three years and has many years of experience before joining Avant. She was the third Instructor to join the AEP team in 2020, and she became the English Program Manager in 2021. In addition to her master’s in Linguistics: Teaching English as a Second Language, she holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and enjoys all things Psych-related. She was born and raised in Florida and is proud to be a fourth-generation Floridian! When she’s not working, she loves cooking, getting out in nature, doing yoga, learning languages, and playing with her Holland Lop bunny named Cookie.


One of the common questions we receive from international nurses is if they are required to take the English exam throughout their process of becoming a US-RN. The answer is yes! The English Proficiency exam is a necessary part of the US immigration process. Without it, you will not be eligible to get a visa. She explains the two main types of English exams that have been around for quite some time, beginning with IELTS.

IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System. This English exam is comprised of four different sub-tests: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. The test takes roughly two hours and 45 minutes to complete all the combined sections. One thing to note about this exam is the format in which it is produced. It is possible to be scheduled for reading, writing, and listening on one day and then speaking on a separate day. So, don't stress out if you see two different dates on your schedule! This just means you will take the exam over two separate days, so be sure to double and triple-check the dates assigned so you don't forget!

TOEFL stands for Test of English as a Foreign Language. The biggest difference between IELTS and TOEFL is that TOEFL is an entirely computer-based exam, whereas IELTS is taken in person. The framework of this exam is similar to IELTS in that there are also four main sections: reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Another key difference is the speaking portion. With IELTS, you will most likely be talking face-to-face with someone who can monitor your fluency. In the TOEFL exam, you will speak in a microphone over the computer and record your answers that way. 

Now that Jennifer has explained these two exams let's learn about how Avant Healthcare Professionals can support you through this part of the journey.

Avant's Support with English Exams

We understand it can be stressful to know which exam to pick, how to schedule it and if you made the right decision. That's where we come in! All our English instructors have master’s degrees in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and experience in teaching learners from all over the world. This means that they know how diverse everyone’s English learning needs are, and they have the skills and resources to meet everyone's needs. 

The Avant English Program provides free resources for IELTS and TOEFL preparation. Our team of English Instructors, with over 50 years of combined experience in English Exam teaching, developed all these resources in-house!

Jennifer's IELTS and TOEFL Tips

One of Jennifer's biggest tips for taking an English exam is to honestly assess yourself before making a decision. Before moving forward, ask yourself a few questions, such as "What are my weaknesses or strengths in the different test areas?" or "What do I need to be successful?". This self-reflection will give you a clear picture of your goal for yourself and help you understand what you really need. From there, you can pick which exam to take confidently, and, of course, you won't be alone in the preparation since our department will guide you through anything you are worried about! 

Healthcare Heartbeat is On Youtube

Healthcare Heartbeat Is Also Available on YouTube.

Related Links and Resources

Visa Screen: Which English Exam Should I Choose?

3 Ways to Give Complete Answers in IELTS Speaking

IELTS Reading Tips: 3 Common Mistakes to Avoid

About Avant Healthcare Professionals

Need nurses? Avant Healthcare Professionals is the premier staffing specialist for internationally educated registered nurses, physical therapists and occupational therapists. Avant has placed thousands of international healthcare professionals across U.S. facilities to help improve the continuity of their care, fill hard-to-find specialties, and increase patient satisfaction, revenue and HCAHPS scores. Avant is a Joint Commission accredited staffing agency and founding member of the American Association of International Healthcare Recruitment (AAIHR). Avant Healthcare Professionals is a member of the Jackson Healthcare® family of companies.


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