New grad volunteer in South Africa

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    Hello, all! I've been a follower for some time now, and I thought I would post my first thread to ask for some advice/opinions.

    I graduated last year with my ADN, got my RN license in July 2009, and went straight into a RN-to-BSN program. I will be done in December of this year. As we all know, the job market for new grads is not ideal right now. I've been applying to places (hospitals, LTC, etc) for almost 6 months now, and I've had only one interview.

    I've always wanted to volunteer in a third world country, but the opportunity never came up. Either that, or I was afraid to go by myself =] THe chance finally came up as my sister and her friend (both who are RNs) are traveling to South Africa to volunteer at a mobile clinic/orphanage. After consulting with my parents and my sister, I decided I would tag along with them. They are going for 3 weeks, but I'll be extending my stay to 3 months. 89 days to be exact. We leave in January, so from now until then, I've put my job hunt on a pause.

    I'm hoping that when I get back from this 3 month trip, my resume will look much more marketable to recruiters and managers. What are your opinions? Granted, I don't expect my phone to be ringing off the hook when I get back. But I'm wondering if this will give me a leg up when applying to those programs with 1,000 other applicants. Thanks so much!

    By the way, that is not the only reason why I decided to go. This is a trip of a lifetime, and I will definitely regret it if I don't go.
    LittleNurseJudy and Quiet_Storm like this.
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  3. 26 Comments so far...

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    It certainly won't hurt your resume. Best of luck to you in this amazing endeavor.
  5. 0
    This is amazing!Good luck!This is something I would like to do as well!
  6. 0
    That's wonderful! Definitely something unique to make you stand out -- PLUS you'll be putting skills into practice. You'll have lots of experiences to draw from when you do interview!

    Good luck, have an amazing time!
  7. 5
    Have a great time! I spend a semester in Cape Town as an undergrad and absolutely loved it, so feel free to ask me any questions!

    Of note though: South African is not a "Third world country," it's an industrialized nation with serious infrastructure, as is much of Africa.
  8. 0
    i think that would be a fantastic opportunity! i always wanted to do something like that. i had the opportunity to go to Ghana a few years ago, but was pregnant at the time and my husband was deployed so i chose not to go. i don't regret my decision but i still feel like i missed out big time.

    I think it would definitely give you a leg up on other new grads. You will be developing your critical thinking, be expected to make independent decisions/utilize your nursing judgement and care for a large number of patients with limited resources.

    Best of luck
  9. 3
    Wellllll....South Africa isn't quite 3rd world, more like 2 and a bit

    However, there are poverty-stricken areas where you will get some amazing experience. A word of warning though; many people come to SA expecting lions and leopards prowling around backyards and hyenas upending rubbish bins. The only predators you will see in South African towns and cities are the human variety, and they are considerably more dangerous than any representatives from the animal kingdom!

    Please be very aware, or should I say wary, especially given that there tends to be a spike in crime over the summer season which is approaching now. Tourists abound from December to February and the criminal element is in its element. Never stray from your group-all predators seek the grazer cut out from the herd. Never leave your belongings unguarded, in fact don't bring any valuables with you! Don't carry a lot of cash, and if you use a credit card, make sure it's one of the smart cards that require a pin number.

    Be very observant in practising your standard precautions. And have your TB resistance checked ASAP, if you haven't already done it. TB is at epidemic levels in South Africa.

    And er.... you probably know about the HIV prevalence, which is why I warn you about the standard precautions. But er.... to be on the even safer side, don't have sex with any South Africans, wait till you get home....
  10. 0
    Go for it! You will learn so much.
  11. 0
    Thank you, everybody!

    Just a note: From what I hear, we're going be in a relatively rural area. We're landing in Johannasburg which I'm certain is pretty industrialized, but I'm not sure of where/how far we're going to travel from there. THank you so much for all the encouragement!
  12. 0
    Hey there!
    Having done some work abroad, I thin kthis would be wonderful for you! Go for it! I would say, though, that it is important to know what the expectations of you will be, it's easy to get in over your head fast. Inquire what leadership hierarchies are in place, what you'll be doing, and find out you can best prepare. Best of luck!


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