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Working abroad as a nurse

Working abroad as a nurse
Photo: Working abroad as a nurse
Many Australian nurses are looking to career opportunities overeas to expand upon their clinical skills, but also take the opportunity to travel the world.  Nina Hendy investigates.

For international job opportunities visit the HealthTimes working abroad page.

Qualified Australian nurses are look further afield than their local community when hunting for a new job. In fact, nurses are in high demand all over the world, meaning they can use their qualifications to fund a trip overseas and earn money along the way.

A few clicks of the mouse is all it takes to turn up a plethora of overseas work opportunities, with the internet littered with jobs for Australian nurses looking for a change. And many promise a good income, great work opportunities and in some cases, accommodation will be taken care of.
Jobs range from South Africa, the Middle East, New Zealand, the United Kingdom or even the ski fields of Switzerland. Paid holiday leave, an accommodation and/or furniture allowance and return flights to Australia to visit family are part of the package in some cases. All nurses have to do is decide on a country, investigate the opportunities and apply for the opportunity of a lifetime.

However like all overseas opportunities, it is wise to make full investigations upon your working and living arrangements so you get a nasty surprise when showing up for your first day of work.

Not surprisingly, it’s an increasingly appealing prospect for some. Depending on the opportunities you settle on, a year or so working overseas can propel the career of a young nurse toward more senior roles far faster than sticking with the same role ever can.

The Projects Abroad lists several overseas opportunities for nurses. If you land a nursing or midwifery placement overseas, you could find yourself working with HIV patients, with kids suffering malnutrition, in a maternity clinic or a general hospital ward, with placements tailored to suit your level of experience and match your interests.

One jobs site even lists a two week work opportunity in Switzerland looking after the health and wellbeing of a group of school children at an international ski camp.

If you’re after something a little closer to home, Nurse the Nation is one of the many organisations set up to link nurses to overseas opportunities. Founded in 2008 by Caroline Hudson, the group aims to support nurses and midwives who would like to use their nursing and midwifery skills to help them travel other parts of Australia and experience new professional challenges.

Qualified Sydney nurse Debra (who did not wish to give her surname) says a stint overseas did wonders for her career. She spent a year working in a small South African community, utilising a range of her nursing skills during the time.

“I was made redundant from my job due to a restructure at the hospital I was working for, so was looking for a new opportunity. I just felt so jaded by nursing in Australia and was single at the time, so felt like the world was my oyster.”

Debra began scouring the internet for opportunities that suited her, stumbling on a role that sounded ideal for her. “It fitted my skill set, the accommodation on offer was basic but clean, and the pay wasn’t too bad given I was still fairly junior anyway, so I went for it.”

While the role was a world away from what she was used to, Debra relished the new experience and threw herself into her new role. She enjoyed feeling so valued by a community sorely lacking professional nurses, she says.

That was three years ago. After a year overseas, Debra returned and soon landed a management role at a private Sydney nursing home for terminally ill patients, which she loves.

“I know that the year away from all the issues facing the Australian industry did the world of good for me. It gave me some perspective and allowed me the chance to leave it all behind for a year. In that time, I honed my communication skills, stretched myself personally and professionally and had the chance to think about what it was I actually wanted to do with my skills when I did return. I’d recommend overseas work to anyone.”

Why working overseas can be good for you:
  • Get to be the expert in a new community
  • Earn money while seeing the world
  • Enjoy different working conditions
  • Experience a new country
  • Return to fresh work opportunities

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