If you are between travel assignments and are looking for a way to fill the gap, volunteering may be an exciting and rewarding way to spend your time. There is a wide variety of volunteer opportunities for nurses both in the United States and internationally.
Volunteering in the United States
There are a variety of organizations in the United States that use volunteer nurses. One of the most well-known organizations is the American Red Cross. Volunteers with the Red Cross can work locally or travel to disaster sites both in the United States and abroad. Red Cross nurses provide triage and medical care to victims of disasters, such as hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes. One great thing about working with the Red Cross is that you can help people in your own community.
The Medical Reserve Corps provides another opportunity for nurses interested in volunteering in their community. Not only do Medical Reserve Corp nurses provide disaster support, they volunteer in other capacities in their communities. For example, nurses may staff vaccination clinics, health screenings, and provide health outreach services to underserved communities.
There are plenty of opportunities to help people internationally for nurses who wish to travel abroad. Several organizations, such as Doctors without Borders, need nurses. The organization travels to 70 countries worldwide and needs nurses to assist doctors with patient care. The organization often travels to countries where medical care is needed most. Nurses may be able to choose their destination from countries like Mexico, Syria, Peru, and Ethiopia. Illnesses, such as AIDS, cholera, and malnutrition, which are global health problems, may be treated.
Doctors without Borders require its volunteers to make a commitment of six months to a year. If you are looking for an international volunteer experience for this length of time, Doctors without Borders may be a great fit.
Tips for Volunteering
Decide what type of commitment you can make. Some volunteer opportunities require you commit to a certain number of weeks or months.
Think about where you are willing to travel. Not everyone is comfortable traveling to war zones or places which are dangerous. Keep in mind, accommodations may range from tents to shared housing.
Consider recruiting a friend. It can be exciting, yet scary to volunteer internationally in certain locations. In some instances, you may be able to request to travel with another nurse who is also volunteering.
If you are volunteering internationally, determine what you will need. For example, you may need to get certain vaccines before traveling to some countries. The volunteer coordinator will be able to tell you everything you need to do ahead of time to prepare. The coordinator will also explain travel arrangements, what you should pack and provide you with any additional information you need.
Wherever you decide to volunteer, keep in mind, you will be making a big difference in the lives of people who really need it. You will also carry the rewards with you for a lifetime.