Everyone’s heard of Doctors Without Borders, but did you know those doctors also need Nurses Without Borders? The idea of “nurses without borders” is gaining favor, especially in light of growing health problems in many developing countries.
While the nurses many times serve under Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), which usually requires a minimum six-month commitment, some organizations operate their own trips to foreign countries for shorter experiences. Either way, the time served in these situations can be great experiences, in addition to being rewarding.
In addition to Doctors Without Borders, there are several other international organizations that can benefit from “nurses without borders.” Among them: The Peace Corps, Global Service Health Partnership, Global Nurse Initiative and International Medical Volunteers, among others. Nurses might be asked to serve as nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, operating room nurses, nurse anesthetists or administrative and support staff for these, and other, organizations.
Some may help with travel, stipends or living expenses; however, most smaller organizations require volunteers to pay their own way. Others may not actually sponsor the volunteer nurses, but act as a clearinghouse to align them with needs for which they are qualified.
For those working with Doctors Without Borders, local medical staff usually will provide all direct care; however, nurses will administer hands-on medical care in crisis situations that require triage and surgery. Nurses looking to volunteer with the organization must be fully registered, have a minimum of two years’ relevant experience, be able to supervise, train and manage others, and have relevant travel or experience in developing countries. It’s also helpful to have performed tropical nursing, be proficient in Microsoft Office software (Excel, in particular) and be familiar with French and Arabic.
As a nurse, your career options are wide-open…whether you work in a hospital, nursing home or physician’s office, as a traveling nurse, or as a “Nurse Without Borders.” The first step, though, is to study and become a nurse – ideally an RN, or a registered nurse with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Fortis can help you get there. Its colleges and institutes offer nursing programs in several states across the U.S. Check out our Nursing Programs page for details on the program nearest you.