Working Abroad As a Nurse

There’s a Great Demand for Nurses Worldwide

Most of us dream of traveling internationally. Some of us even dream about an international career, especially in today’s global market. Nurses, especially US educated nurses, are in demand all over the world. The cry for nurses comes from developing nations, as well as from nations that need nurses to fill specialty positions. Nurses are the largest category of health workers, especially in developing countries where eighty percent of health workers are nurses.

Nurses make up nearly fifty percent of the health workforce worldwide. The Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International, is still reporting nurse shortages in the Philippines, Australia, Western Europe and Canada. Africa and South America desperately need nurses, so healthcare organizations worldwide are trying to recruit nurses using nursing websites, and innovative advertisements in nursing journals. International health crises like the tragedy in Haiti further strain the limited supply of nurses available to work overseas. The opportunity to work as a nurse has never been greater, and the salaries offered by some of these nurse needy countries have never been better.

The most lucrative salary packages come from the Arab countries, like the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, and there are nursing positions available in Iraq and Afghanistan, although the salary and benefit packages may not be as good as the seven weeks annual leave offered by England, or the lucrative salaries offered by other economically enriched nations.

By Identifying Objectives You Can Narrow Your Job Focus

Most nurses have a reason for wanting to work abroad, and they may have a list of objectives they want to accomplish in an overseas nursing position, but their past work history or language skills may hinder them from getting the position they want right away. Most overseas positions are based on a nurse’s career history, so some nurses take a position in one type of nursing job, and then move to another position that fulfills their desires and objectives. For example, a Canadian nurse took a position with a hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in the renal transplant unit, and after a short period of time she was offered a position as a private-duty nurse for a member of the Royal family. Her duties included traveling with family when they took international trips. She had to take the first job based on her past experience, but her real interest was in private nursing; she was able to cultivate a position in that specialty while she performed her renal duties.

Communication is one of the key ingredients in healthcare, and in order to effectively achieve nursing objectives you must be able to communicate in the language of the host country. Nurses may not need to be fluent in the host language, but a basic understanding of health related terms is essential. Some countries are looking for English speaking nurses who have an understanding of medical terms in their language, and know some conversational expressions, but other countries offer nurses translators and language classes while they are working. In order to appreciate the total overseas nursing experience most nurses study the host language in one way or another.

Some nurses like to use health recruiters to find overseas nursing jobs. There are hundreds of travel nurses websites that offer nursing jobs in other countries. Some of them assist nurses with housing, banking, and other relevant issues before they make the move. Most of them will help with the documentation needed for different countries. Visa procurement may take some time, so it’s important to find a company that can help resolve red tape issues that can delay employment.

The keys to finding a successful overseas nursing job are research, a sense of adventure, the desire to make a difference, and an open mind, plus patience, planning, understanding and appreciation, go a long way in making any dream a reality. If you would like more information about nursing opportunities abroad, visit

Samantha Dunkin is a published author in the field of Nursing Jobs Abroad. She is currently working on an informational portal about opportunities for workers in the health care industry.