Most relevant specialties for nursing abroad



I'm eager to complete my pre-requisites to start nursing school. I'd love to eventually complete some relief missions abroad and once I have accrued experience move on to become a nurse practicioner.

That being said, I was hoping to hear from some of you who have volunteered abroad and can bring some insight as to what are the most sought after nursing specialties when working abroad or during relief missions.

I would assume that Emergency is clearly one, but what about Neonatal or ICU?

Do you have any websites to recommend?

Thank you!


148 Posts

While I haven't yet had the opportunity to go abroad for volunteer work (next spring if I am lucky!), I frequently see requests for OR nurses actually. I don't see as much with NICU or ICU because in many countries they simply don't have the infrastructure for patients that critical - they lack the specialized equipment needed for those kinds of patients. If you are looking at volunteering as an NP, that may be more difficult because the NP role does not exist in all countries. However, I do see many many many requests for midwives with global health initiatives, if you are looking ahead at the advanced nursing roles that may be more applicable in that setting.

You might check out MSF (Doctors Without Borders) to see what their requirements are as they are pretty universally respected for their placements.


14 Posts

That makes so much sense. Thanks for your insight. I have followed up with this comment and you are correct in that OR nurses are very sought after for this kind of work. I wish eventually we can reach a point in the mear future, when other critical care nurses can be as useful during these events and that the technology allows for individuals in distress areas to have increased odds of survival.

Thanks again!

Specializes in ED, OR, SAF, Corrections. Has 26 years experience.

Regarding OR nurses - you must be able to circulate AND scrub. Most of the overseas NGO's operate on the European model where nurses do both, unlike the US where most places hire RN's to circulate and scrub techs to scrub so nurses very rarely, if ever, scrub and most have no experience scrubbing.

Organizations looking for nurses (OR positions as well as others) that you can check out:

Mercy Ships - off the coast of west Africa

Palestinian Children's Relief Fund - sends missions to the West Bank and Gaza

Syrian American Medical Society - mainly refugee camps in Jordan

Emergency International (Italian charity organization) - if you're okay with a certain amount of danger as they staff civilian medical and surgical centers in Iraq and Afghanistan (among others), but they pay a salary in return for a 6-month commitment. Just don't forget that just because it's not in the news much, both are still actively dangerous, esp. Afghanistan where aid workers are killed and kidnapped, so much so that several Red Cross clinics have had to cease operations. Afghanistan especially, there are no actual 'safe zones'. But they do much need and valuable work and do a lot of work with pediatric war injuries (kids step on land mines, etc.) The work is necessary, but the risks are real.