Esther Wamala - Recognition as nurse

Nurse in sick room smiling into camera
Esther Wamala-Bollig

For me, nursing is more than a profession.

Recognition has enabled me to have a fulfilling professional life again.

Esther Wamala-Bollig moved to Germany with her husband in 2011. Trained in Jinja, Uganda as a nurse and midwife, she received full recognition as a registered general nurse after one and a half years.

Name Esther Wamala-Bollig
Age 30
Reference profession Registered general nurse
Country of origin of certificate Uganda
Working as  Registered general nurse in Berlin


What recognition means for me …

... great joy and more occupational security.

My advice

You don't have to do everything alone. There are many institutions that can help during the recognition process.

"When I came here I did not know that I was not allowed to work as a nurse or midwife", says Esther Wamala-Bollig, who moved to Germany from Uganda with her family in 2011. "After all, I had a work permit and had already learned some German at the Goethe Centre in Uganda." When she applied for work as a nurse parallel to her integration course she received only refusals. The only offer for the then 27-year-old was a six-month full-time internship in a parent-child ward. "Although I could only do simple tasks there, I thought, I would at least get to know the German health system," Esther Wamala-Bollig recalls.

In intensive consultation sessions with the Berlin association "Miteinander Weltweit" (Together Worldwide) and the "IQ Network" she learned of the possibility of recognition of her professional qualifications. While still doing internship she submitted her documents to the Berlin State Department of Health and Social Affairs (LAGeSo). However, without the B2 certificate required under the European Framework of Reference for Languages, the Ugandan woman's documents were initially not accepted - even though she had completed the integration course with top marks at the B1 level in December 2012, showing that she could already communicate well in German.

Esther Wamala-Bollig therefore took a language course at the Goethe Institute in Berlin. "After an internal test, I was issued a preliminary notification that I had passed the B2 exam, which I then sent to LAGeSo."

And finally, the last hurdle before recognition was submitting the "Code of Conduct", a kind of international certificate of good conduct, which she had issued by Interpol at the request of LAGeSo. "Getting the document was a real challenge, since the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) in Germany said it had no jurisdiction. Also, the police stations were not willing to take my fingerprints, because there were no allegations against me. But then a nice policeman was kind enough to help me take Fingerprints which I then sent to the authorities in Kampala. I had to collect the document from Interpol in Uganda in person, however."

In 2011, when Esther Wamala-Bollig came to Germany, the Recognition Act did not yet exist. Since its entry into force in April 2012, it has been possible to submit an application for recognition from abroad. That might have spared her a lot of trouble. Once Esther Wamala-Bollig had submitted all the documentation, however, the further processing did not take long. After a personal meeting, on account of her good work references and language skills as well as all of the other available documents, LAGeSo made an exception and already verified the equivalence of her training in advance. In May 2013, Esther Wamala-Bollig received the certificate of recognition after submitting the Interpol certificate and the B2 language certificate.

She has been continuously employed as a registered general nurse since July 2013 and now has a permanent contract. She was naturalised in December 2014, after only three years of residence.

"I was sometimes frustrated during the recognition process, but I am very glad I never gave up. I am not only better paid today but I also get a lot of respect from my colleagues."

The interview with Esther Wamala-Bollig was conducted in December 2014.