You have your nursing license now, which you worked hard for. Maybe you are one of these nurses: CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant), LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse), RN (Registered Nurse), BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing, CNS (Clinical Nurse Specialist), or an NP (Nurse Practitioner).
And you have a good position at a prestigious regional medical center in the area of health care that you were trained in. You have great clinic hours that most nurses would trade anything of value just to have your schedule.
Like a lot of nurses, you chose the nursing profession because you “wanted to help people,” and while that is what you do all day long – help people – the job just isn’t as fulfilling as you thought it was going to be. It seems like something is missing in the gratification area of the job.
If this describes you, have you ever thought about putting your skills to work helping people in other countries? Of course, you might ask a local church about mission trips, or you could go on line and find one of the many organizations specializing in medical missions.
Or you could simply go to the online database of over five hundred medical missions at One Nurse at A Time. Linda Childers wrote a good article on this topic here http://career-news.healthcallings.com/2012/12/28/medical-missions-nursing-for-a-cause/.
There is such desperate need for health care all around the world. When natural disasters – earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis – occur somewhere in an undeveloped country, a great burden is placed on an already fragile to non-existent health care system.
All the money, supplies, and medicine in the world won’t help the sick and injured without trained health care workers with the know-how to properly administer health care to the hurting people.
If you are a nurse, a medical mission can offer you a life-changing experience that might be a career changer as well. On most normal days, nurses in the U.S. work in a predictable environment where they don’t have to problem solve or think fast on their feet.
On the other hand, due to disasters or because of the severely depressed areas most medical missions serve, a medical mission will often give a nurse the opportunity to perform outside her typical job duties and practice.
As a nurse on a medical mission, you will, of course, need to treat people from different cultures, which means you will need to record health notes and communicate important information back to the patient while bridging a language barrier.
Your working conditions will most likely be primitive as well, which is not to say you won’t have supplies and medicine. These items are generally provided by aid organizations.
The exam rooms, operating room, and sickbay will not resemble anything you are accustomed to in an American hospital, clinic, or doctor’s office where you have been employed.
You can rest assured, however, that the experience of helping people will make up for any less than ideal working conditions you might encounter.