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Have Stethoscope, Will Travel: Become a Nurse Overseas

Working as a nurse is a great career option if you enjoy providing compassionate medical care to patients. There are many options for nurses who want to travel the world and experience healthcare in other cultures.

How to Become a Travel Nurse


Image via Flickr by OnCall team

In order to start a career as a traveling nurse, you will need to obtain a relevant education. Most traveling nurse positions require a bachelor’s degree in nursing along with a current license. If you have an interest in a specialty, you can take additional courses or training opportunities. Some travel nurses choose to work in resorts or on cruise ships. You could also fill in for staff in hospitals, nursing homes, or medical clinics when their staff is on medical or personal leave.

Workload and Requirements
Most traveling nursing positions have a similar workload to local positions. Nurses assist physicians and other healthcare providers by administering injections, taking vital signs, performing tests, and completing any other related tasks that will encourage a place of healing for patients. Some nurses work in high-stress situations, such as emergency departments or operating rooms, so if you choose this area, you need to be able to remain calm. You may also need to learn the native tongue in order to communicate with patients and other staff.

Certifications and Education
Countries have different certification requirements for nurses, so it will depend on where you are seeking employment. Most countries do require that nurses have a bachelor’s degree, although some positions are available to those with an associate’s degree in nursing and a current license. Many of the top traveling nursing companies also require that you have at least one to two years of work experience before traveling abroad to work in another healthcare system. The nursing company can provide information for you about what certifications, visas, and other travel documents are required before you leave the country.

Where to Go?
There is a strong need for skilled and compassionate traveling nurses in developing countries such as those in Africa and the Philippines. There are also traveling nursing opportunities in the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, China, Europe, and Australia. One thing to consider before starting the process of becoming a travel nurse is that you may not earn quite as high of a salary. The prospect of international travel and experiencing new cultures are the main draws for traveling nurses.

Things to Consider
Most traveling nursing companies require a 6-8 month process for obtaining visas and licensure and verifying education and experience. You may also want to do some research on the countries that are hiring nurses before you go, since the local culture and food options may play a factor in your desire to visit these countries.

For nurses that do their research and feel prepared, these men and women can enjoy a culturally rich and fascinating look into the lives of their patients and coworkers. There are many different job opportunities in countries around the globe that allow you to care for others.

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