Anyone ever lived and/or worked as an RN in Ecuador? - page 2

by klone

9,502 Views | 19 Comments

I'll try this again - I asked about a month ago about living in Mexico (and of course, the overwhelming response was how dangerous Mexico is). We've since done more research and have revised our plans (not because of the... Read More


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    I can't directly answer your questions about Ecuador, though I have been there. I did spend a month in Peru visiting remote health care clinics in the Andeas mountains. I don't know if it is true in Ecuador, but in Peru the health providers are not parallel to what we have in the U.S.. Babies were delivered by "Obstetras", who, as far as my Spanish would take me, seemed to have a training level somewhere between a Certified Nurse Midwife and an obstetrician. Before setting my heart on being a midwife there, I would check out if your training would be of use there.

    I found that medical services in remote areas of Peru were in many ways superior to the U.S.. Just because it is a "third world" country, I had kind od assumed that our system/training would be superior. I was wrong. The country of Peru serves their people medically to a higher level than we do here, for a small fraction of the cost. The exception is in cancer care, which is not covered by their national health insurance.

    One opportunity that I found in Peru is a program called Projecto Peru, which is a language school in Cuzco. They will set you up with a volunteer position is a hospital, orphanage or school in the city. They also help with either a host family or an apartment. I plan to go for a month or two after nursing school if I can't land a job. I think it would be a great way to check out a country before moving so far away. Hopefully you can find a similar situation in Ecuador. Good Luck!
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    i have never worked in ecuador, but i used to live and have worked as a rn in costa rica so hopefully i will at least be able to shed some light on what it is like to practice in central america.

    i came from an er background so i worked in an urgent care clinic. it was also the only choice as the closest hospital was 2 hours away. (this is very common in these countries) the people in this community used this clinic for everything from regular office visits to emergencies. our doctor new every member of the town and i often went house to house giving immunizations and needed care. also because it was near a volcano we got many tourists who would bang their heads off waterslides or get lacerations zip lining. i learned to do a great stitch job. situations like this are why you will soon learn that there are no specialties if you do not work in a true hospital. you will work way outside of a us scope of practice. you become a jack of all trades by necessity and i'm not sure about ecuador but midwifes are illegal in costa rica. it is not a recognized profession and most all babies are scheduled c-sections before due dates due to hospitals being so sparse. having a baby outside of a hospital is unheard of and if this happens in an emergency birth it is very hard to get a birth certificate for the child causing years of paperwork and red tape. i'm sure you could work with births in a hospital, but there are not many in retirement type areas. (at least in cr)

    also in our clinic there was no medical equipment or supplies. if a patient needed an iv their family member would have to first go to the pharmacy (they are everywhere and often administered injections in store), buy the saline and tubing, then bring it to us to administer it. it was policy that we kept nothing on hand. if the patient needed hospital care they had at least a 2 hour wait to get to it then goodness knows how long after that. again, i don’t know how it is in ecuador (i'll stop saying that, you get it by now...but) in costa rica healthcare is socialized. everyone gets it no matter what. it may be literal years before a patient gets the tests or whatever they need. don’t get me wrong immediate medical needs are taken care of, but for example i saw a patient in 2009 that needed a cxr and we gave her a prescription to get it next month. by that i don’t mean the next month i mean january 2011! i often think of her and wonder what happened. if i was a rich person i would go back to cr and open an out patient radiology center. i'd be rolling in colone$.

    well i have gone on forever, but i just wanted to give you an idea of the huge difference in what nursing is there compared to here in the us. it can be done but you have to be willing to forget the us protocol and rules and do what you can to help who you can. there is no scope of practice or sterility like we have here but it is still a very fulfilling work experience and educated nurses are always needed.

    good luck!!

    ps- you must speak fluent spanish or you will be ineffective. you don’t have time in most situations to learn on the job and patients (wonderfully kind people) will often not trust you to take care of them or understand what they need. they are usually scared and are mistrustful of foreign medical professionals that they think are "coming to learn" on them.

    sorry so long!!
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    I spent a summer shadowing physicians in Quito. I had a stint at the Military hospital, La Maternidad and at a family clinic.

    The most striking difference was the availability of supplies, which you should be prepared for. Ecuador is a very poor country which pays out a majority of its income to pay IMF/World Bank debts, and little is left for health care. I worked with a hematologist who had one latex glove that he carried around that he would use for a tourniquet (no prepacked, sterile IV supplies!). A pediatrician I shadowed had a pen blow up in his hand, and he had to hunt for a bar of soap to try and clean it off. At the Maternity hospital, savvy nurses saved empty water containers and strung them to their med carts to use as sharps containers.

    Interestingly enough, the sex worker clinic was the most modern and had the best service. Prostitution is legal and highly regulated, and they had a young female doctor with a private entrance and waiting room. They were required to have an exam and have their license "stamped" every couple of weeks.

    One fascinating element is the strong influence of native traditions... I can't remember the name, many but Quechua use faith healers for their care, especially maternity care. I was able to witness the examination of a pregnant woman by one of these healers and it was very interesting... seemed more like a ritual than an exam.

    So that was the big city.... Ecuador is such a magical place. I never went to Vilcambamba, which I where I imagine most expats go to retire! I saw the Lonely Planet version of Ecuador.
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    I lived in Ecuador for a year working as an English teacher. I've lived all over the world and this is the only place I dream of moving back to one day, but as a nurse next time. I just started working in a nicu in Puerto Rico for the time being. As for nursing in Ecuador, I do know that nurses and doctors had to dedicate a year of working in a rural community before obtaining licensure. You'd probably be able to find a clinic that you could 'work' for, though once you get there. I was paid cash and did visa runs to Peru every 3 months. Pretty standard. In 2005, I believe I was making about $400 a month. Whatever I made is all I had to live on, and it was enough for a very modest lifestyle. And for those who replied, discouraging the poster to move because of the dangers, perhaps you should consider offering advice on topics you have experience in. Just sayin, it makes sense.
    klone likes this.
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    Hey, I had forgotten about this thread. Thanks for the feedback, JillPR, PhoenixRN and Antmarching! Ecuador in 8-9 years is still in our plans (although we're now also considering Nicaragua). I do speak Spanish - I wouldn't call myself fluent, but I think I could be fluent after a few months of immersion.
    Last edit by klone on Jul 14, '11
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    Love Ecuator...:heartbeat
    It is a great place to retire and it is also one of the safest countries in South America. The only problem I see with your future plan is that Ecuator (or any Latin American country for that matter...) do not have anything equivalent to an Advanced Nurse Practitioner....but if it is of any help, check the links below.

    1) http://www.cfhi.org/web/index.php

    2) http://allnurses.com/nursing-article...733-page2.html
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    Hello,
    I am currently in nursing school and we are doing a global health project. My assigned country is Ecuador, and I have been researching forever for the answers to my questions and all I can find on google is information about mission trips. Below I have pasted my questions. Do you know of any websites or any place that I can find this information? Please let me know if you do
    What is the role of nursing in Ecuador? What is the scope of practice for nursing? Do people generally seek nursing care or is traditional medicine more common?

    2. What types of educational requirements are there for nurses to practice?



    Does anyone have any experience or knowledge about American nurses working in Ecuador?[/QUOTE]
    Last edit by lkohlmann on Sep 25, '12
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    Did the original poster of this thread ever find out anymore about nursing in Ecuador? If so I'm interested to find out....I googled the topic and your post came up in the search.
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    Hello there,

    I cannot give you information regarding nursing specifically in Ecuador, but as someone that lived there for 2 years i can give you some sound advise.

    Before moving to any country asses the current politico-social situation of that country. Ecuador currently is governed under a democratic dictatorship. The economic changes implemented by the government have had a profound change in the situation of the country and the people, and as a result, necessity has incremented, unemployment is high and private property is disrespected and confiscated by the government institutions. Many companies have abandoned the country and as a result certain products are hard to find and others have high prices. Crime and drug related crime has increased, and safety is a real concern, kidnapping Mexico style is common on the streets of the main cities.

    My humble opinion is look closely into the situation of the country and dont be based on previous reports, stories or articles... One place may be paradise one day but the next it can become an inferno... Ecuador is a beautiful country and full of marvelous and wonderful people. If your plan is to bring healthcare to these individuals in need then be part of the force of change, but before jumping ship and planting roots on a foreign country, make sure the social situation is the most optimal for it...

    As a last note, as part of the South American social changes, Ecuador's government has planted an anti-american seed on the mind of its people... So beware.
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    This is a late answer to your question, but as I live in Cuenca, Ecuador my information and response is much more knowledgeable than others. First, you will have to get a permit to work or residency. I am working as a volunteer RN.
    Despite being ranked as top places to retire by international living, Cuenca is a very young community. Census information for 2010 shows that 66% of the population is under age 29. Pregnancy rates are an astonishing rate of 91 per 1000 females ages 10-19 and OB care is very much needed. The rate of c-section here hovers near 80%! I volunteer at an OB-GYN clinic and can give you ideas of what you would get for pay. The pay for an nurse here is about $5-8 dollars an hour depending on your degree (I have a MSN). If I had a doctorate, and had registered my degrees, obtained licensing from the Ecuadorian government.... I could command $30 dollars per office visit or $800 for natural birth or $1200 for water birth for my OB patients. The price includes all prenatal care and labs (covered by office). You would also have to consider that many patients (due to age and sex) are not covered by insurance or have the money for delivery, thus are delivered at the "security" hospital and public clinics for their prenatal care.
    You might want to consider a telecommute position in the US that you can do from here....at least you get paid for what you are worth. If you are an interested in starting a business, the only assisted living facility closed here last month. I think that might work well, you could collect social security from residents. Since healthcare here costs pennies on the dollar, you could really make it work.
    Best of Luck. Alicia
    ps- Ecuador is so safe! I feel safer here than I did living in Minnesota! The constitution here provides equal rights for residents and foreigners alike. Ecuadorians in Cuenca are very positive about expats and very welcoming. None of the above mentioned anti-american things mentioned above, although politically the President doesn't bend to the US like other South American Countries (but Ecuador receives less funding, etc and doesn't have the financial obligations to always align its stand with the US). Also, I have never heard of a kidnapping in Cuenca. I guess if you lived on the Columbian boarder or were involved in drugs, you might find this (same as the boarder between texas and mexico).
    Last edit by cuencaalicia on Feb 1


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