If you are a nurse and wish to see the world, you are very lucky. International travel nursing - or plain travel nursing in the US - has become big business with lots of opportunities.
Nursing is a great profession to be able to see other countries. Many countries are in a severe nursing shortage right now and travel nurse staffing concerns are making it very easy to come in and work.
Whether you are looking to visit for a few months or a couple of years, you can find something that will suit you to a tee. All specialties are needed. If you are an OR, ER, med/surg, cardiac, neonatal nurse or any other specialty, you will find a job that is right for you and in your field.
The benefits are wonderful. High pay, free housing, licensing fees paid, health insurance and travel expenses are generally covered, depending on the country traveled to.
Most hospitals and travel nurse recruiters want you to have at least one year of nursing in your specialty. They want you to be comfortable, not only with being a nurse but with the equipment, terminology and cares as well.
The United States
There are many travel nursing possibilities within the United States and even before you explore overseas opportunities, a change of pace in your own country might just do the trick.
If you're not a US citizen, it isn't all roses. Some countries, like the United States, have very long waiting periods to receive visas. If you have previously traveled to the US, you can get back there in less than 6 months with sponsorship from a travel nurse company or hospital. If not, it can take several years to receive a visa.
You will need to be sponsored by either a travel nurse agency or hospital for your visa. Once you have the visa, it can be renewed yearly. You will also need to be licensed in the US with the NCLEX nursing exam. Your agency will help you prepare for this and pay the fees. This test is often offered outside of the US as well as in the US.
The United States isn't the only great place for international travel nursing though. There are several other countries that you can receive a work visa in and travel to.
The Middle East
I know, probably not your first choice. Consider it though, because the facilities are top notch, the pay is even better and you will receive great benefits.
You will be required to work for 1-2 years and will be given the opportunity to fly home, free of charge, for a visit between the first and second year. Depending on your home country, your wages may also be tax free.
Many nurses choose to work here while waiting for a US visa and there are plenty of travel nursing opportunities.
Most jobs require a two-year commitment and there are English language requirements that will need to be met. If your ultimate goal is to work in the US, this is a great interim step. You can apply for residency after a two year assignment if you wish.
Canada has almost as many choices as the US and is much easier to get a visa. If you would like to travel to North America, this is a really fun and diverse place to be. Canada can also be a great interim step to entering the US.
There are many opportunities for international travel nursing in England and Ireland. If Europe appeals to you this may be a good option. You can run into some of the same visa issues as with the US though.
There are plenty of organizations if you're looking for volunteer work as a nurse. One Nurse at a Time has a directory of organizations with volunteer opportunities, as does this listing.
Not only nurses can travel. Physical therapists, occupational therapists, pharmacists and respiratory therapists are all in high demand. You can travel to most any place a nurse does with any of these careers.
Working while traveling is a great chance to see the world, have built-in support and make new friends. There aren't many other opportunities as great as international travel nursing that allow you to earn and learn at the same time.