International Nursing: An Overview

NursingOctober 28, 2013


Would you like to see the world? Have you ever wanted to really immerse yourself in a foreign culture? International nursing may be right up your alley! You will need to have tenacity, flexibility and a desire for adventure to secure a spot on a foreign nursing service. Each country, each situation, is unique, so there is a lot of research to be done before starting a career in this field.

International nursing includes all aspects of working as a nurse outside of the United States. This can be as volunteer work, military service, employment with a foreign facility or even agencies that specialize in placing foreign nurses. Nursing internationally differs from the US in practice, in language and in culture depending on the country. For example, in some countries, nurses do not perform blood draws or insert IVs. Pay can very greatly from one country to another, so that may need to be taken into consideration.

If you are interested in international nursing, it is essential to be in compliance with the immigration and licensing laws of the country that you want to work in. The International Council of Nursing (ICN) have a list of nursing boards in over 130 countries that can help you find the requirements for becoming a nurse in that country. Some require a bachelor's degree, most require some patient care experience prior to immigration and some require additional training. Be sure to know the requirements and fulfill them as exactly as they are specified. This will help make the process smoother and more timely.

Language proficiency is also a requirement. Nursing requires a relationship between a nurse and patient that is heavily dependent on both verbal and nonverbal communication. Plan on learning the language well and possibly demonstrating fluency with a language exam in the foreign country of your choosing. Even if you plan ongoing to the UK or Australia, you must show that you can speak English well.

The US military can offer an opportunity to live and work abroad while speaking English and largely avoiding any immigration or licensing issues. It can provide a variety of foreign positions; however, the ability to choose a specific foreign destination is limited. Look at the websites for the Air Force, Navy or Army, or find a recruiter near you for more information. Occasionally, there will be openings for nurses to work for the government as a civilian.

Volunteering is another form of international nursing available to nurses willing to serve in underprivileged areas. A nurse must have the competence to be of assistance as well as be prepared to work in impoverished areas. You should search for organizations with excellent reputations for doing the most good. There are few organizations that will offer paid positions to work in a foreign locale, but many of them request that the nurse pay their own expenses.

Being an international nurse is an exciting adventure in so many ways. The process can be daunting, but the reward is worth it. You would be working in the career of your dreams and caring for people in need.

To take the first step to becoming involved in international nursing by becoming a Registered Nurse.

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