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Nursing Beyond Borders

November 12, 2012

BSN-prepared nurses in high demand abroad

The United States isn’t the only country feeling the nursing crunch. The nursing shortage has reached global proportions affecting advanced countries like the United States as well as Canada and Australia along with less-developed countries such as English-speaking Caribbean nations and Sub-Saharan Africa. Nurses are in demand to bolster a strong medical workforce in developed countries and in the developing world. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that nurses make up over 50 percent of the medical workforce in countries around the world, with many developing countries seeing that number reach closer to 80 percent.

The search is on for qualified, educated and trained nursing professionals to help facilitate health care initiatives for diverse populations worldwide. And, American-trained nurses with a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) are in great demand on a global scale.

While health care facilities in the United States look to keep pace with an aging workforce, technology innovations and growing patient needs, foreign countries are searching for qualified medical professionals, including nurses, to lead national health care efforts and initiatives. American-trained, BSN-prepared nurses have tremendous opportunities to go beyond their borders and discover a fulfilling career abroad for a new, meaningful adventure.

Developing country homes

Favela in Rio de Janeiro

Poor Nations Facing Tough Disparity

Developing nations are looking to advance their level of health care in order to improve the health and well-being of their citizens. They are dependent on nurses to implement most of their health care initiatives, including managing clinics and taking the lead on many patient health efforts. However, highly skilled and educated nurses in developing nations are migrating to industrialized, wealthy nations magnifying the nursing shortage in these countries. Although this migration creates a disparity between poor and wealthy nations, it also presents less-developed countries, which often subsidize nursing education to gain a stronger nursing workforce, with economic difficulties. Less-developed countries get left fielding a bill for nursing education, from which wealthy nations benefit.

To counteract this mass migration, many less-developed countries turn to recruiting nurses from abroad to fill vacant positions in their health care markets.

Nurse holding a globe

Bright nurse with a globe

Finding Your Place Abroad

Nursing is a universal profession that is essential to the health and well-being of populations worldwide. According to the WHO, nursing positions comprise more than half of international jobs. Nursing abroad is a great opportunity to travel the world to help diverse populations through effective health care; however, it is not for everyone. Consider the following if you are seeking a nursing career abroad:

  • Earn your BSN: Medical facilities around the world need highly skilled and educated nursing professionals to take an active role in the health care process. Earn a BSN before applying to an overseas position. A BSN prepares you to work independently and take on management roles within remote health care facilities.
  • Think beyond the traditional medical setting: Nurses have a unique ability to find employment all over the world. However, the medical facilities in countries with the greatest need for BSN-prepared nurses aren’t always in an ideal environment. You may find yourself in understaffed and under-stocked clinics, in an area of conflict or immerged in other primitive conditions.
  • Take up a second language: Nurses in foreign countries need a basic understanding of the country’s language, culture and traditions to help connect with patients and better serve the community. Communication is crucial to providing exceptional and safe health care services to patients. Before you venture overseas, take the time to learn a second language so that you are equipped to communicate with patients on a one-on-one level.
  • Hire a recruiter: Finding your dream nursing job abroad can be difficult if you aren’t familiar with the area or don’t have connections at a particular facility or location. Health care recruiters are professionals at placing BSN-prepared nurses in positions overseas. Recruiters can also help answer any questions you may have throughout the process, including obtaining work visas, completing competency exams and finding housing in a foreign country.

Nurses have the distinct ability to serve divers populations in a meaningful capacity. If you have a calling to do more with your nursing degree, consider nursing abroad.

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