Nurses are in short supply in just about every part of the world. This includes the richest nations in the world so try to imagine the situation in the poorer and undeveloped parts.
There is nothing more important than health and the right nurse can make a huge difference in somebody’s life. An international nurse is a demanding job and may not pay what you could have been paid in your home country, but the rewards are enormous.
If you often wonder how you can make a difference in the world and you are in nursing school or are already a nurse then you should think about going international. Where there are shortages of healthcare professionals there is an opportunity for you to work towards making the lives of the underprivileged a lot better.
Read on to see what you need to know about becoming an international nurse.
Find an agency
You may have a particular country in mind where you would like to practice and in some cases, you can do the legwork on your own. Make sure to find out just how difficult this is to do on your own as an agency might be a better option.
For instance, you’ll need to find out what type of visa is needed and if you need to have some sort of International Health Insurance. If you are looking towards places like the Middle East that does have some infrastructure, then this process is not that difficult.
If you are looking at underdeveloped or developing countries in Africa or parts of Asia and South America, then going with an agency is probably the best idea. There will be language and bureaucratic hurdles that will be difficult for you to do yourself.
Also, consider that an agency is not very likely to send you to a country where you don’t speak the language. This may not be much of an issue in African countries where English is one of the official languages, but it could be an issue if you wanted to go to Asia or other European countries.
You’ll need to be a certified nurse to do this with an international aid organization. The more certifications and degrees you have, the better.
If you are not already a nurse, then you’ll need to pass the nursing university interview and get accepted. Then, when you finish your degree, you should be qualified to work internationally. It may not be a terrific idea to go international directly out of university, however.
Though technically you qualify, experience does matter. You will find yourself in situations without a lot of infrastructure and protocols so you’ll have to think on your feet in many cases. Making good decisions that fall outside of your studies are best made when you have some experience behind you.
Some organisations will require you to have not only nursing experience but also experience in a particular field. Having an APRN (Advanced Practice Registered Nurse) will help you find the right organisation and allow you to be a more valuable asset to your hospital where you are placed.
Some ideas are to be certified midwives and anaesthesiologists.
Benefits of international nursing
Everybody will have different motivations for doing an international nursing stint and the benefits will also depend on the person. However, there are some things that seem to be universal among the people who choose this path.
Besides the satisfaction that comes from helping people in need, there are a host of other things that come along with that. You will surely come away from the program with a deeper understanding of how the world actually works. Seeing this part of the world is something that only a fraction of Westerners will ever experience. Your experience here can help bring new ideas on how to solve the problems we face around the world.
Another huge benefit that everybody will come away with is a new set of skills to bring back to their practice in their home country. If you can thrive in a challenging set of circumstances then your decision-making process is vastly improved. When you come back, and work in a hospital or practice with great infrastructure and protocols, then these skills will set you apart from your peers. Your career will take off after your experience and will open a lot of doors due to the skills you’ve acquired abroad.
Working as an international nurse is not for everybody. The challenges can be too great for some. You have to be very stubborn and strong-willed if you want to do something like this. Try to reach out to some nurses who have already done this by joining some online groups or asking around your hospital. They can give you some idea on what you will likely face and then you can decide if it is the right path for you.
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James Wallace has been an advocate for mental health awareness for years. He holds a master’s degree in counselling from the University of Edinburgh.