Nurses hoping for a career abroad have a lot to consider.

What International Opportunities are there for Nurses?

Registered nurses have a wide variety of career paths open to them. These professionals can choose to work in general healthcare, then select a specialty and decide what kind of medical environment most suits their personality and goals. While there are plenty of positions within the U.S. – the field is projected to grow by 16 percent between 2014 and 2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics – many nurses may be looking for opportunities in which to expand their horizons in an international sense.

A call for help

Many charitable organizations abroad, as well as hospitals, clinics and other medical facilities, are always looking for assistance in the form of nurses. That’s because these professionals – instead of doctors – are providing the majority of care to patients of various backgrounds and cultures, according to the World Health Organization. As the life expectancy of humans continues to rise and another generation of individuals requires aid, the need for additional nurses has also grown. Furthermore, the current shortage in the field is calling people interested in this career to help.

International nurses can fill the void in communities where health assistance is insufficient. Professionals wanting to use their skill set while traveling the world will often work with small humanitarian organizations or larger operations that are dedicated to bringing awareness to certain populations, diseases and health overall.

The requirements are critical

In order to take their nursing capabilities to an international location, professionals in this healthcare field will need a nursing diploma. While an associate’s degree is acceptable, earning a BS in Nursing from a renowned institution like Rutgers University will give registered nurses the additional experience and knowledge to handle unique circumstances in an efficient and effective manner. Nurses will also need to pass their National Council Licensure Examination to practice in both domestic and international environments.

Once professionals have completed these steps, they’ll need to research the requirements for practicing in another country. Job postings will often include these important obligations, including board examinations and language needs.

Location-specific duties

Other sources – like the International Council of Nurses – can help registered nurses understand the ins and outs of specific locations, including the issues or diseases certain populations are struggling with and the proper course of action to help. The ICN also has its own Code of Ethics for Nurses, which acts as a guidebook for practices that put human rights in focus while helping registered nurses understand social values and needs of international communities.

The timeline can be lengthy

The process of becoming an international nurse will take some time, as individuals must ensure they have all of the necessary documentation and qualifications for their particular placement and country specifically.

Registered nurses should plan to spend anywhere from six to eight months completing all the necessary requirements for their job. Steps in this process can include getting certifications approved by the organization they will work with, taking any additional classes or exams needed by that particular location and gaining a visa that enables them to work.

Travel Nursing Central recommended applying for licensure in the country where registered nurses hope to move for work since it can make job applicants stand out from their competition. Professionals should consult international nursing boards to understand the requirements of the location where they hope to be placed.

The pay can vary

As with jobs in the U.S., international roles can have differing levels of pay. While a registered nurse working in the Middle East may make a good yearly salary, a location in Europe may not offer the same amount of compensation.

It’s important for professionals in this field to complete their research prior to making a move abroad. Understanding the cost of living as it relates to salary can help nurses gauge if the job is the right career move for them. Furthermore, registered nurses looking to get into an international career should be sure to get the details of their placement in writing before signing any contract. Without proof of previous conversations, nurses may be susceptible to lower wages and different conditions than they initially agreed to.

There are necessary skills for international nursing

Many of the qualities needed to become a successful registered nurse in domestic situations will carry over into international ones. A study published in the International Nursing Review found that undergraduate students perceived the following to be some of the most important characteristics of the profession:

  • Caring
  • Knowledge and understanding
  • Empathy
  • Communication

In addition to these qualities, international nurses will also have to be independent, patient-facing and multifaceted to succeed in this career, according to Discover Nursing. While multilingualism can be beneficial to the job, registered nurses may be able to complete the responsibilities of their placement with a basic understanding of the language. Those jobs requiring a conversational capability in the home language may offer classes or provide translators to help nurses better communicate with their patients.

Professionals in this field shouldn’t limit their search for international opportunities to countries where English is the primary language. Many organizations abroad look for English speakers, and many locations have made English their official language in medical situations, especially when it comes to staff communication and documentation.

It’s wise to join the community

Working internationally gives registered nurses the opportunity to interact with people from various cultures, social circles and all walks of life in ways they may have never experienced before. Professionals working abroad are guaranteed to not only learn more about their environment and its community, but also about themselves in the process.

The passion these men and women bring to the field has the ability to create positive change among populations and individuals battling serious diseases, location-based challenges and more. Registered nurses operating abroad take on leadership roles within the healthcare field in these situations, as they tend to provide the majority of the care for patients and work with individuals on a more personal level.

The goal of serving internationally is to do so in a meaningful and impactful way, while respecting the culture as nurses. At the end of a nurse’s placement, organizations large and small want professionals to feel like part of the global community, according to Partners in Health.

Earning a BS in Nursing from Rutgers University provides registered nurses with the expertise, experience and knowledge they need to enter a new culture and community with open arms and the intention to serve. It’s important for these professionals to know that while there are domestic opportunities aplenty, international jobs offer nurses a new view of the world and the chance to make a difference.

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