By Rosemary Goodyear
Getting ready to work in international health requires some preparation. Last month we discussed finding and identifying international health organizations and learning about what they do.
Another level of preparation begins with a self-assessment of what motivates your wish to move into international work? Five themes have been found to influence people to become inspired, and to become involved; 1) Desiring training and experience within different populations; 2) Humanitarianism; 3) Response to a disaster; 4) Intellectual curiosity; and 5) Escape from a vexing life situation.1 Once you identify what has induced this interest, a personal SWOT analysis can be carried out by identifying your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats you bring to this search. The results will provide insight into your desires and objectives and help you establish goals and direction for you international work.
Prerequisite knowledge for international involvement includes gaining an understanding of the governmental, political, economic, and cultural realities that exist in the nation you will visit. This will provide a scope of what to expect during your stay in this nation. Exploring the rules and regulations of the nursing profession in the practice field in the nation to be visited, is part of your research. This is essential prior to departure. An important step is to determine the current health care system in place in the nation/ state and its influence on the health care being provided to the citizens. This is essential knowledge for you as you plan for an international experience.
Before you can move forward with an international experience, there are personal requisites each individual must achieve and master. I call it WRAP. Wisdom, Respect, Audience, and Patience. These are the fundamentals each nurse must explore and achieve before embarking on an international healthcare experience. Wisdom must be gained through research into the nation’s history and current state of health care that exists today. Respect for each individual’s social, cultural, ethnic, and religious expression must be explored and understood prior to departure. The audience of individuals and nurses you will encounter and work with during your stay in a nation must be understood, respected and supported thought the work you carry out during your presence in the nation. Having patience for a different pace of life, business and processes is foundational to each working project when visiting the nation of assignment or selection.
Last prepare yourself to work on a mutually selected project with your host nation, where you can bring expertise, facilitate learning and growth, to reach the mutual goals of your host and yourself. Finally be prepared for a life change as an outcome of this experience.
- Basch, PF. Textbook of International Health, 2nd Ed. Oxford Press; NY. 1999.
- Dalmida, SG. Amerson, R. Foster, J. McWhinney-Dehaney, L. Magowe, M. Nicholas, PK. Pehrson, K. and Leffers J. Volunteer service and service learning: Opportunities, partnerships, and United Nations millennium development goals. Journal of Nursing Scholarship 2016; 48: 517-626.