Is taking a few years off after graduating nursing school to do Peace Corps abad idea



I am a senior in nursing school, to be done in May. I know that the first year out of nursing school is critical, since you learn a whole lot during that time. I have been nominated to do Peace Corps in the health extension/health education sector, set to leave tentatively in September. I am pretty - terrified - but excited. I was hoping to maybe do a nurse residency upon returning - since I would be away from the hospital setting for 27 months, and I don't think that I would feel competent trying to be a floor nurse after spending too much time out of the groove...I don't know if that would be enough though, or if I would even get one (its really a pretty big IF) and I dunno...I was wondering if it would be better to ask for a deferral maybe, and try to get a year or two of experience before leaving? What are your thoughts? Would being away from the hospital setting for two years make me unemployable? Will accepting the Peace Corps nomination lead to me murdering my career?


989 Posts

DO IT - the experience this will provide for you is something that most nurses never get to experience - professionally and personally. It sounds like you are at a point in your life where your responsbilities are few so the chances of you being able to do something like this down the road mosts likely will shrink. Jobs in the hospitals, LTC etc. will always be here. With the job market the way it is now, a year or so will fly by and you will have experience and unusal experience. You never know where something like this opportunity will lead you - good luck and go for it!


112 Posts

Specializes in med-surg, step-down, ICU/CCU, ED.

It depends on what you want to do with your nursing career. If you eventually want to get into something like public health, become an NP or work somewhere internationally, then having PC experience can only help you career wise. Even if you "just" want to be a floor nurse, it won't kill your career either, although it will be a bit harder for you to find hospital work when you return.

You've already jumped through the numerous hoops that Peace Corps puts their candidates through. Why not just go for it? This is honestly the best time for you to do PC, while you're still new to nursing. Because as you get along in years and start getting used to the nursing salary, a 27 month commitment in a developing country working for virtually nothing will not be as enticing as it once seemed.

Best of luck to you!!


PC/Ethiopia 97-99


67 Posts

If you in fact DO decide to go, review the latest State Department warnings at least: Welcome to Travel.State.Gov

I would try to talk you out of it but you probably already have your mind set on going. I have attended a lecture by a person who has actually done it, even though he had a decent nursing job offer after graduation. He didn't grow professionally as much as he would have at his other job but the cultural experience benefits are intangible.

Make sure you get the required vaccinations before you go.

Specializes in Acute Care Psych, DNP Student. Has 4 years experience.

I would do it. It is difficult to get accepted into the Peace Corps, and it would probably be a life-transforming experience. Let the bad economy in the US play out while you are gone having the experience of a lifetime. Maybe you'd need a refresher course when you get back if you want to work in acute care. You might find you go another path in nursing based upon your Peace Corps experience. Unless you have other reservations or concerns - I'd go with this unique and wonderful opportunity. The Peace Corps will teach you problem-solving, creativity, collaboration, and how to practice autonomously like nothing else.


3 Posts

Hi Cutieepie,

I am interested in doing the exact same thing, except it would be a year from now. If you are still around I would love to hear how your thought process turned out--i.e, are you any more confident in getting a job after peace corps, etc. That is my largest concern as well, and I am thinking about doing nurse practitioner after so I'm not sure if it would be more beneficial if I just worked...anyway I'm sure you are busy since you are about to graduate, but if you are around would love to hear your situation!




15 Posts

You should definitely do it. I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Honduras from 2007-2009. While translating for American medical brigades, I decided to become a nurse. After finishing my service, I went to nursing school. I wish I had been a nurse during my service; I could have made that much more of a difference!! One of the girls in my group was a Registered Nurse. She immediately got a job right after our service. If you want to do it, I can't imagine one reason to pass it up.