Traveling the world is a common “bucket list” item. Often, people think the only time to act on their desire to travel is before starting their career or after retiring. This common misconception is understandable, as many careers have responsibilities that tether professionals to one place. There’s good news if you’re considering a career in health care: Many positions offer opportunities to act on your wanderlust even while making a living and saving lives.
More and more students are taking gap or glide years. If you plan to take a year off between high school and undergraduate studies or between undergraduate and graduate schools, this is a great time to do some traveling, but it’s not your only option. In fact, many health care career paths offer chances to study abroad or volunteer outside of your home country during your studies.
Undergraduate students may consider studying abroad — that’s right, even those who are studying pre-medicine can do so! In fact, studying abroad can make you a more interesting candidate for medical school admissions committees and it can make you a better health care provider, especially since being introduced to new cultures and languages will prepare you to meet your patients’ diverse health care needs.
If studying abroad doesn’t work out, consider a summer study program or an internship in a different country. These programs are shorter and often focus specifically on learning a language through immersion in a culture that uses it. Some programs include trips to multiple countries within one term, giving you an opportunity to see health care in several different places in a short time period.
Take nursing beyond your country’s borders
Registered nurses play an important part in the treatment of patients around the world. Because their work is important in so many different environments, nurses have an incredible amount of opportunities to travel nationally internationally. HealthCare Volunteer has connected over 40,000 volunteer nurses with positions to help others. Doctors without Borders is always looking for nurses to travel to other countries to help, especially operating room nurses, nurse midwives and nurse anesthetists.
Nurses can sharpen their skills by taking advantage of travel opportunities. Working in new environments, especially with those who speak a different language than their native one, is beneficial since it prepares these health care professionals for the many unique situations in which they will work throughout their caring career.
Keep people smiling around the world
Dental health is lacking in many parts of the world, opening many opportunities to work and volunteer abroad if the dental field interests you. Dentists are needed, as are dental educators, dental assistants, dental laboratory technicians and hygienists. Dental students and general medical volunteers are also appreciated. International Volunteer HQ and Maximo Nivel are particular organizations that are interested in pre-dental students.
Make global health a priority
If your passion is in international health care, the global health field could be the perfect fit for you. These public health professionals work to protect people and communities around the world. Sometimes that means working in the U.S., and often it means working in other countries. There are several opportunities to work with immigrant and refugee health organizations, as well as disaster relief and international agencies. Global health really can take you around the world!
There are many areas of global health that utilize specific health care professionals. Maternal and child health care is one of the most needed forms of health care in developing countries. Health educators are needed in all environments, helping people implement healthy living practices, even with their limited resources.
If you’re seeking international employment opportunities, be sure to check out those offered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This federal organization is generally seeking epidemiologists, public health advisors, health scientists and medical officers. The U.S. Public Health Service commissioned Corps is similar to the military, but not the same. They hire health care professionals in 11 areas, including dieticians, pharmacists and veterinarians.
There are so many opportunities to see the world during your health care training! Explore all your options to find the one that’s best for you.