Can an RN find work outside the U.S.?

Posted by Athena Career Academy on Mar 8, 2017


The international community regards U.S. educated nurses highly and rightfully so: almost a third of the top 100 nursing schools in the world are in the U.S. Qualifying as a RN in the U.S. opens up several opportunities internationally. Nurses make up over 50 percent of health workers internationally. You can either work in the developed world or find opportunities with organizations such as the World Health Organization in developing countries.

Some of the opportunities available outs the U.S. for RNs include:  

Military Opportunities

As a RN, you can either enroll in an ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) institution or fill in an application to join the military. Once you qualify to join the military, you are now in a position to access opportunities abroad as part of your assignment. During combat, you may provide care in the field or on the frontline. However, most of your assignments will involve peace missions. In such cases, you will provide emergency care; maternity and childcare; rehabilitation services or any other services specific to your post.

CDC Global Health Opportunities

The CDC offers several global employment opportunities to health professionals in the U.S. The opportunities available include:

  • Career Civil Service Employment – As a federal employee, you qualify to apply for overseas assignments with the CDC. The opportunities available for nurses include working in public health advisory or with health scientists
  • Non-Personal Service Contracts – CDCs agreements with private companies internationally allows them to recruit nurses to work globally. You get an employment contract with a company that is in partnership with the CDC as opposed to a federal employment contract. The contractor (private company) often determines your terms and conditions of employment
  • Internships/Fellowships – The CDC does a lot of work internationally and is always looking for interns and fellows to help in its global health agenda. For example, volunteers in response to a global health crisis
  • U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps – The commissioned corps, a uniformed non-military service, enjoys similar pay, job and retirement benefits as those of uniformed military services. Commissioned corps serve in several medical disciplines, including nursing, and often enjoy global assignments just like officers in military service.

Expatriate Work

As more countries strive towards providing global health care to their citizens, there are more opportunities in private and some public health care facilities in regions such as Europe, the Middle East and in Australia. Most of the countries will offer you employment with a RN license from the U.S. However, some countries such as the U.K. require that overseas nurses apply to the NMC (Nursing and Midwifery Council) to qualify for a British nursing license. Such processes may take a few weeks or several months depending on the country’s licensing board.

Alternatively, you can choose to work with international organizations such as the Red Cross. Depending on your assignment, licensure requirements will differ by country. Often, your employer will help you adhere with local regulations, making it easier for you to practice in the country.

Diplomatic Appointments

U.S. embassies can hire nurses to work within the embassy, or serve employees of the embassy and their families. While such appointments qualify you to work outside of the U.S., you are still within U.S. territory. Appointments with a U.S. territory abroad do not require additional licensing from the host country.

As a RN, you have the opportunity to pursue different opportunities globally. If you like the disciplined forces, the military will offer you a position that allows you to enjoy nursing while serving your country abroad. International opportunities expose and challenge you differently. Get a head start on your nursing career today by sitting down with our admission counselors at Athena Career Academy.

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Topics: RN