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5 rewarding humanitarian jobs for nurses

Humanitarian work entails assistance to people who find themselves in a state of emergency and who need help. Most often, the humanitarian organizations work and distribute humanitarian aid to people affected by conflicts, natural disasters, epidemics and famines.

One of the largest sectors in humanitarian work is healthcare. Today, many doctors and nurses work in various humanitarian organizations to provide direct medical assistance to vulnerable groups. When there is a natural disaster or a war zone where people are unable to access hospitals and medical institutions, humanitarian organizations send teams of doctors, nurses and other medical staff to help them. Often, the work of doctors and nurses in such settings becomes crucial for saving lives.

For these reasons, many humanitarian organizations send large teams of medical staff directly to the field. If you are a nurse and own a nursing diploma and if you wish to contribute to humanitarian causes and help those in need, this article offers you an overview of five major humanitarian organizations that employ medical and health workers.

International Committee of the Red Cross

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is an independent humanitarian organization working on ‘’ensuring humanitarian protection and assistance for victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence’’. The organization’s work is based on the 1949 Geneva Conventions and promotion of international humanitarian law. Therefore, treating and caring for the wounded and sick in armed conflict and other major violence and natural disasters has always been part of identity and values of the ICRC.

In today’s world where there is an increase of conflict and violence, the ICRC is one of the biggest organizations that addresses the main issues affecting people’s health. This includes implementation of traditional health activities (first aid, war surgery, physical rehabilitation and health care in detention), as well as other health related disciplines (primary health care, hospital care, and mental health and psychosocial support). The ICRC is highly committed to providing high quality health programs while often working closely with other organizations to bring together experts from different fields.

Because of the major presence in the field, the ICRC is always in search for medical and health professionals who would work as mobile staff. To fill in the position of a nurse at the ICRC, you must own a degree in nursing and a valid license to practice in your country of residence. In addition, nurses are required to have minimum of three years of experience companied by two years specialized post-degree clinical experience, or at least five years of recent experience in this field. Also, you should have an excellent command of English while knowledge of other languages (French, Arabic, Spanish, and Russian) is also an asset. Lastly, you should be highly committed and dedicated to the ICRC’s humanitarian mandate. You can learn more about the open positions at the ICRC here.

International Medical Corps

International Medical Corps is a global humanitarian organization dedicated to saving lives and relieving suffering through health care training, relief and development programs. The mission of the organization is to improve the quality of life through health interventions in affected communities around the world. The organization provides training and health care to local populations and medical assistance to people who are the highest risk. When catastrophes and disasters hit, the International Medical Corps is usually one of the first humanitarian organizations on the scene, to provide rapid and effective aid.

To be effective, the organization has established an International Emergency Roster for hiring qualified personnel, amongst whom doctors and nurses who would work directly on the field. The primary responsibility of the nurse is to provide limited professional nursing care to people who are injured or have become ill because of a disaster or major emergency. This often includes triage, preparing and reviewing patient records, managing medications authorized by a medical provider, monitoring conditions of patients, reporting to the lead doctor and similar tasks.

To work for the International Medical Corps, you must be a registered nurse and have BA or BS in nursing and relevant experience. Also, you must have a good command of both oral and written English and the ability to cope with stressful situations.

Working for the International Medical Corps means caring for people who fled their homes, immunizing the children of an entire village against polio and providing quality medical assistance. If you wish to work for these causes, you can check the open positions at the International Medical Corps here.

The United Nations

The United Nations (UN) is an international organization founded in 1945 with a task to maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations amongst nations, promote social progress, better living standards and human rights. The UN is tasked with finding solutions for the most complex problems such as ending conflict, alleviating poverty and combating climate changes. The issues that UN tackles are diverse, and so are the career paths that it offers.

The UN employs around 40.000 staff from 193 Member States, who work in teams with people from all backgrounds and cultures. The issues that staff members cover are various such as providing administrative and logistical support, monitoring elections, disarming child soldiers and coordinating relief in humanitarian crises. The diversity of jobs at the UN often entails changing functions, departments, geographic locations and organizations or agencies.

In case you end up working as a nurse for the UN, you will be responsible for performing clinical assessments of patients, diagnostic and screening tests, laboratory tests and similar. You will also have to respond to emergency calls and provide emergency care. In addition, you will be tasked with providing health education and health programs and perform other related duties as required.

If you wish to work as a nurse for the UN you must have a minimum of five years of experience, accredited nursing diploma and a good command of English language. Knowledge of other UN official languages is desirable. The UN also values formal training in CPR and other equivalent emergency medical care, knowledge of major medical office equipment and basic diagnostic equipment and the knowledge to use them. You can keep track of open nursing positions here.

Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres

Doctors Without Borders is a leading international medical relief organization, that implements and manages medical projects in close to 72 countries worldwide. It is focused on emergency medical and humanitarian relief guided by the principles of independence, neutrality and impartiality. The organization implements medical programs in areas where no health or sanitary systems exist, or where health structures are overwhelmed by the needs of populations. The organization provides direct medical assistance to people affected by armed conflicts, natural disasters, disease epidemics, malnutrition crises and other emergencies.

To be able to respond to the most critical needs of patients in field, the organization is committed to providing professional development of its field workers through various types of trainings to build skills and knowledge. The salaries of fieldworkers reflect the humanitarian spirit of volunteerism as well the high level of professional expertise by the staff. Starting gross monthly salary for field workers is $2.039, with subsequent increases based on expertise and experience.

If you work as a nurse for Doctors Without Borders, you may be asked to take part in running a program to prevent HIV transmission or organize a mass vaccination initiative for people who fled the conflict. You also may be additionally tasked to manage medicine stocks, collect data and be in contact with local authorities. Sometimes, the direct patient care may be limited because nurses are also responsible for managing and training local nursing staff.

To work as a nurse for Doctors Without Borders, you must have experience and expertise in emergency, pediatrics, infectious and tropical diseases and public health. You have to be committed to work in the field from 9 to 12 months and own appropriate degree and current valid license. At least six months of practical experience within the last two years and the minimum of three years of relevant experience is a requirement and knowledge of French or Arabic is a strong asset. The Doctors Without Borders also recruits nurse-midwives, operating room nurses, nurse anesthetists and neonatal nurses.

The Alliance for International Medical Action

The Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA) is an international humanitarian organization that brings together aid workers, national medical organizations and global research institutions to provide quality medical care to people in need and conduct research to improve humanitarian medicine. Since its establishment in 2009, ALIMA has treated more than two million patients, conducted 56 programs in 13 countries. It also launched ten research projects that focus on malnutrition, malaria, Ebola, and surgery.

ALIMA works with both local and national organizations to provide medical care to people affected by armed conflicts, displaced people, people affected by epidemics and emerging illnesses. As a nurse working for ALIMA, you will have to provide nursing care, treatment and follow up of patients in accordance to doctor’s guidelines. You will also be responsible implementation of hygiene standards, bio-hazard prevention, infection control, ensuring patients are properly received, triage of patients and similar.

To work as a nurse for ALIMA you have to own certain skills and competencies, such as organizational and management skills, communication skills, computer knowledge, multi-cultural flexibility. You will also have to be a team player and be able to cope and manage stressful situations. If you are interested in working as a nurse for ALIMA, you can keep track of open positions here.

About Ada Hasanagic

Ada Hasanagić is a human rights professional currently working as a researcher at the Delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Previously, Ada graduated with honors from the Sarajevo School of Science and Technology and the University of Buckingham in the fields of Political Science and International Relations. Also, she earned a master’s degree in Democracy and Human Rights from the University of Sarajevo and University of Bologna.

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