Nurse volunteer in third world countries


Hi there,

Has anyone worked as a nurse volunteer in developing country? I am fm hk and have worked in MR rehabilitation center for one year as a Rn since graduation. Looking forward to yr advice

b rgds

Has 23 years experience.


I worked with Doctors Without Borders for six months in Sudan, and another six in India.

The biggest factors:


Cultural sensitivity/cross-cultural living experience

Work experience

As far as work experience, I had ER, Peds ER, Military, and inpatient burn. I've always looked for experience that would help me be useful overseas. Not too specialized (all have me useful knowledge/exposure); and technology wasn't available where we were (I.e. informatics won't help land the job where I was). I had previously volunteered in Honduras (2 weeks; not too difficult medically), then Haiti (ER and Pediatrics--awesome experience withProject Medishare)--no overseas experience isn't reassuring.

We were there as managers and experts with Drs Without Borders)--so get experience so that you can train others. They also use specialty nurses--Peri-Op nurses are always in demand, and pediatric experience will never hurt.

There are a lot of programs out there that provide aid. Best advice is to know what you want (what do you want to do; where do you want to go); then focus on that--while being open to other opportunities.


4 Posts

Can I ask how did you fund these trips?


71 Posts

Agree with PP. Doctors Without Borders is not a good 'volunteer experience' for a new nurse. But if you have the skills and experience it is a good organization to work for. They paid all my travel and living expenses (except for those of the initial interview). They also give you a stipend, health insurance, and pay for you to attend job-specific trainings.

I know several nurses who volunteer in developing countries (for example during vacations). Typically they pay their own way or go as part of a church group that fundraises for a short term missions trip.

Has 23 years experience.

Agree with jenny regarding Doctors Without Borders.

I went to Honduras with a church group (MMI); funds were raised as tax-deductible donations and self-funding (airfare was probably the largest chunk).

Haiti was on my own volunteering through Project Medishare--I had to cover my airfare and meals. Great experience, but I had experience with peds/ER before I went. It was a hospital assignment, so there was inpatient as well.

When I go to volunteer somewhere, I am going to help people. It is my responsibility to be as well-prepared as possible for roles that I will be expected to perform. Get experience first, and only apply for vital roles when you know you can do it with minimal assistance.