Working as a nurse overseas is an economical and sustainable way to fund your overseas experience.
Nursing is a transferable skill, especially if you are a fluent English speaker because Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, the UK and the USA are all experiencing an acute shortage of qualified nurses. This has resulted in an immediate opportunity for English speaking nurses to travel and nurse overseas.
Securing yourself a nursing job overseas will allow you to base yourself in a different region of the world and travel abroad from there. If you get a nursing job in the UK you will be able to easily explore Europe using the network of budget airlines that fly between the major European cities. If you base yourself nursing in Australia you can easily explore the South Pacific and Asia. I have done this successfully in the UK and am now based in Asia.
Working while you travel enables you to spend an extended time away from home and gives you a way to replenish your funds when you are running short.
There are three strategies you can use when nursing to fund your long term trip abroad.
- Firstly, you can get a nursing job abroad, work full time and travel in your regular vacations. With shift work and overtime it is easy to earn extra vacation days to add onto your trips. With this strategy you have the security of having a job to go back to and a regular income. The downside is that you have to plan your trips around your employer’s needs.
- Secondly, you can work as a contract nurse. With this strategy you sign a contract for a limited period of time. Usually you will earn more money per day than you would if you were employed on a permanent basis because you probably won’t qualify for vacation or sick pay; the higher daily rate compensates you for this. In some countries, like the UK, you can employ yourself through your own limited liability company when you are a contract nurse and this means you can pay minimal income tax.
- Thirdly you can work for a nursing agency on day by day basis. With this strategy you will probably make more per day than you would if you were permanently employed, the same as a contract nurse, because the nursing agency may not pay you for your vacations or when you are sick. Also you may not receive work every day because the agency can only place you when their clients need you. However, as there is a severe shortage of nurses worldwide, it is unlikely that you won’t be able to work whenever you want to, and probably even when you do not!
Which strategy you can use where is dependent on the visa restrictions placed on overseas nurses in each country. For example, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and the UK offer travelers under 30 a working holiday visa which means nurses can work for any employer. If you are over 30 and you want to work in one of these countries, your working visa will probably be linked to a specific employer. These visa restrictions limit which employment strategy you can use when nursing overseas.