by Work the World

Nursing, All Destinations, Clinical Features, Guides, News

As a nursing student, you’re probably training in one of the following four fields; Adult Nursing, Child Nursing, Learning Disability Nursing or Mental Health Nursing. You’ll also know that despite focusing on one of these specific fields of practice, nursing is one of the most diverse of all healthcare professions in terms of available career options.

Hospital-wise you could choose to work in areas like outpatient services, accident and emergency, operating theatres, neonatal care, neurology; all of which have a demand for highly trained, specialist nurses. The rise in community-based care means more nurses than ever are needed in community settings like GP practices, schools, community hospitals, local clinics, prison, the private sector, nursing homes, and even the police — the possibilities are endless.

In this blog, we look at how an overseas nursing programme can provide insight into the range of career options available to you, and how it helps develop specific skills needed to set you apart as a nurse in whichever field you’re studying. We’ll hear from past students who have taken their skills overseas and come back with more, and healthcare professionals who know the working world inside-out. Scroll down to your specialism to get stared.

ADULT NURSING

Nursing

If you’re studying Adult Nursing, you need to be a caring and compassionate individual with a commitment to helping people. Although these skills are the backbone that makes any successful Adult Nurse, they’re not the only inter-personal skills you’ll need.

The NHS outlines other responsibilities and characteristics an Adult Nurse needs to possess:

‘You'll be responsible for several patients, each with different needs so you'll be highly organised, flexible and able to prioritise effectively. A good adult nurse is also highly observant, able to assess patients and take responsibility for determining the best course of action for them.’

They also list skills that will be used daily, which include:

  • Listening and communication 
  • Caring 
  • Judgement 
  • Teaching and advising 

It’s important to remember that even if you don’t inherently possess these qualities, your training will help you better develop both practical skills and emotional intelligence.

How can an overseas Adult Nursing placement help you develop these attributes?

On a Work the World Adult Nursing elective, you’ll have ample opportunity to grow in all the above.

Learning to communicate difficult health issues clearly and confidently to patients from all walks of life is something you’ll experience from day one. On an overseas nursing programme with us you could live and work with rural communities like the Ati people of Guimaras Island in the Philippines, or the nomadic Maasai tribesmen and women of the African plains. Based in remote clinics, past Adult Nursing students have assisted in mass vaccinations, weighed babies, and worked with Clinical Officers in the diagnosis and treatment of outpatients.

Past student Nadia describes how interacting with and learning from local women on her placement in Ghana helped her find common ground with her patients from minority groups in Leeds: 

‘I definitely feel my trip to Ghana prepared me for work. I work in Leeds, which is a culturally diverse place, and means a lot of the women I see are from overseas. Whenever I come across women from Ghana - or from areas near Ghana - we immediately have something to talk about. Already the barrier has dropped; we have something in common. It’s also helped me better understand patients who have already had babies in low-resource settings. I try to make their experience in the UK easier by explaining what they can expect to be different.’

Stretching your communication skills in an overseas environment paves the way to becoming a better listener and helps you develop an even deeper compassion for those you’re tasked with caring for.

How can an overseas Adult nursing placement open career options?

On an overseas nursing programme with us, you can rotate through several departments, getting to grips, from a totally different perspective, with the area you’d eventually like to specialize in.

We’ve partnered with clinics, hospitals, outreach programmes, and rural villages in destinations across Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The number of available options will enable you to delve into cases you’ve only ever read about in textbooks. While overseas, students typically find they’ve learnt much more about themselves and what they want to do than they have at while on placement at home.

Hugh Le Leivre is one such student. His Work the World elective in Tanzania helped him figure out what kind of practitioner he wanted to be. Now working in a rural GP clinic in Australia, it’s clear his elective with the Maasai tribe was instrumental in defining the direction of his career:

The overseas experience affirmed my passion for community based and preventative healthcare. […] It will change the way you see your career, life and provide memories that you will never forget.’

Child Nursing

PLACEMENT

Children’s healthcare needs are specific and need a not only a depth of knowledge, but also a depth of compassion and understanding. This role also involves working closely and communicating effectively with parents and guardians.

The NHS does a great job of outlining the responsibilities and characteristics a Children’s Nurse needs to possess:

‘You’ll need to be intuitive and be able to reassure distressed children, their family or carers. Verbal and non-verbal communication skills are important as well as the ability to play sensitively with a child. You'll need to advise or teach the child's parents or guardians what they’ll need to do to treat the child at home. Respect, sensitivity and empathy are also important characteristics for a child nurse.’

The NHS also list skills are likely to be used daily, which include:

  • Listening
  • Problem solving 
  • Good judgement 
  • Offering advice

Communication is a major factor when treating children, as they are less skilled than adults at expressing the reasons for and levels of discomfort. A Children’s nurse needs a sharp eye for detail, monitoring a child’s health and spotting any abnormalities that may arise throughout their admission.

How can a Work the World placement help you develop these attributes?

On a Work the World Child Nursing elective, you’ll develop in all the above. You’ll have the chance to work with children from impoverished backgrounds, learn how to work around language barriers, and get to grips with how Children’s Nurses from around the globe do their job facing extreme resource limitations.

Based in remote dispensaries and clinics, past Child Nursing students have assisted in mass vaccinations, weighed babies, and undertaken village outreach programmes to help local children learn about healthcare. Everything you experience on an overseas nursing programme with us will help you develop your skills in a way that would be impossible if you stay at home.

Past Child Nursing student Helen Scivier outlines a typical day on placement in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka:

‘The children on the surgical ward were there for a variety of reasons. Some had fractured limbs, others were post-appendectomy. One boy I helped care for was awaiting a skin graft following a 40% burn. A typical day on placement for me involved listening to the ward rounds, chatting and playing with the children, assisting the nurses with medicine rounds and helping with dressing changes and observations… I also jotted down some basic Sinhala phrases in a little notebook which helped when trying to speak with the children on the ward and their families.’

Simply spending time with children and their families, finding ways to communicate with them, and making them feel at ease puts Helen one step closer to becoming a proactive and responsible Child Nurse.

How can an overseas Child Nursing placement open career options?

Career options for a Child Nurse are diverse. You could work in schools, dedicate your time to research, or specialize in health visiting. A placement through which you can have a range of experiences is one where you’ll get the best idea of where you want to be in the future. A Work the World placement gives you just that. With us you’ll have the chance to rotate through several departments that interest you and experience all that goes along with it.

Past Nursing student Madison talks about the wards she assisted in throughout her placement in Tanzania:

‘I spent time in the Paediatric ICU, the Premature Baby Unit, and the Labour Ward. In the Paediatric ICU and Premature Baby Unit I administered medication, performed assessments, took vital signs, and helped the nurses and doctors with various procedures. Importantly, I helped treat patients who had illnesses not typically seen at home, like malaria, meningitis, sepsis and very young babies with severe pneumonia. 

Madison’s placement gave her a breadth of experience not only in the diversity of departments she worked in, but also in the diversity of cases she encountered. Gaining an understanding of which areas Child Nurses can progress into, and spending time with specialists in these specific fields, will help you when making the decisions that will affect the rest of your life.

LEARNING DISABILITY NURSING

Students with their nursing supervisors in Iloilo

Working with patients who have learning disabilities can be incredibly rewarding. Progress may be slow at times, but you’ll feel a deep satisfaction when a patient gains confidence or learns a new skill because of your intervention.

The NHS outlines the responsibilities and characteristics a Children’s nurse needs to possess:

Learning disability nurses focus on managing their clients’ needs over a longer time, often having to be creative to achieve results.  You’ll need patience and have highly-developed, flexible communication skills. The job can be stressful and demanding so self-awareness helps. You’ll sometimes need to be assertive to ensure people with a learning disability do not suffer discrimination. Sensitive human interaction is also a core skill.’

The NHS also list a set of fundamental skills, which form the backbone of your practise:

  • Listening and communication
  • Problem solving 
  • Good judgement
  • Offering advice

It’s rare to find someone who embodies all the above skills without training. But it is possible to plant and nurture the seeds of these attributes, developing them over time into your core skillset. Now, let’s look at how a Work the World overseas nursing programme can jump-start the process:

How can a Work the World placement help you develop these attributes?

Learning Disability Nursing is a relatively new field in the developing world. On a placement with us you’ll work in different environments, helping patients with a range of conditions like as cerebral palsy, downs syndrome, various communication disorders, physical disabilities, learning disabilities, and autism. We’ve partnered with various local vocational schools where you can assist classroom based learning and therapies. These can range from assisting the teachers in the classroom to helping students learn more hands on vocational skill sets like dressmaking, weaving, and beading. There is also the chance to teach students functional skills like how to dress for the day and basic food preparation.

You’ll develop an in-depth understanding of how to work through challenging situations as you observe how local specialists get by with extremely limited resources. You’ll also develop exceptional communication skills as you work with local specialists to get around language barriers. This will enable you to use techniques, like using body language, to communicate with patients.

Taking an overseas placement will also allow you to become more familiar with stepping out of your comfort zone and into unfamiliar environments; something you’ll be doing a lot of if you choose to undertake residential and community work once qualified.

How can an overseas Learning Disability nursing placement open career options?

Throughout your career as a Learning Disability Nurse you could find yourself in all kinds of workplaces. Schools, residential and community centres, mental health trusts, palliative care wards, or with speech and language therapists. Getting to grips with an unfamiliar environment and watching yourself grow in confidence will empower you to assert the same positive attitude back home.

On one of our programmes, you might find yourself drawn to an area of interest you had no idea you’d enjoy, or learn how to better communicate with those for whom English is not their first language. One thing’s for sure; all the skills you amass on an overseas nursing programme will bring you closer to pinpointing what you’re most suited to.

MENTAL HEALTH NURSING

PLACEMENT

Your role as a Mental Health Nurse will be to build effective relationships with patients, as well as their relatives and carers. The range of jobs and responsibilities you’ll have is diverse; you might help one person to take their medication correctly while advising another about therapies or helpful day-to-day activities.

The NHS outlines the responsibilities and characteristics a Mental Health Nurse needs to possess to best help those in need:

‘Your personality and communication skills are crucial components of being a mental health nurse. You’ll need a good knowledge of mental ill health theory and how to apply it in practice. You’ll be warm and engaging while showing real empathy with service users and their individual circumstances. This may include the social stigma of mental health which can be equally hard to overcome.’

They also list a fundamental skill-set: 

  • Observational
  • Interpersonal communication
  • Psychosocial
  • Problem solving
  • Good judgement
  • Offering advice

As with the other nursing disciplines, it’s worth noting that the above skills are skills that can be developed over time. With the right experience, you can even begin to excel in them, helping you stand out from the crowd.

How can a Work the World placement help you develop these attributes?

A vital part of your training as a Mental Health Nurse lies in experiencing the diversities of treatment and perceptions of mental health issues that exist across the world. Because mental health is not a fully integrated field in parts of the developing world, some treatments you might see are far from what you’ll be used to at home. This will increase your awareness of the social and religious contexts that influence how different people see mental health issues, and the challenges local specialists confront in the face of this.

You’ll also communicate with patients and staff from different backgrounds to your own, observe different theories in practice, and observe how mental health is often stigmatized in the developing world.

How can an overseas Mental Health nursing placement open career options?

Undertaking an overseas placement will allow you to rotate through departments and clinics different to those at home. This will expand your understanding of mental health, offer experiences that help you decide on a career pathway, and provide you with a wealth of skills that will look amazing on your CV.

Below, Mental Health Nursing student Joanne talks through some of the experiences she had on an overseas nursing programme with us in Sri Lanka:

During my time on the Psychiatric Ward, I was given the opportunity to observe ECT, take part in ward rounds (which were delivered in English), and interact with the patients. I was also fortunate to be taken by the housemaster to a rehabilitation centre that was 20km away. I also spent time with the psychologists and in the outpatient clinics.’ Joanne Yates.

Mental Health Nursing student, Sally, found that her overseas nursing placement gave delivered experiences that stayed with her long after she arrived home:

I have learned so much about cultural sensitivity, religious values and had some eye-opening clinical experiences which will stay with me forever. I have had the opportunity to administer medication, take blood, and to witness how Ghanaian cultural and religious beliefs influence mental health service engagement.’

Taking yourself out of your comfort zone and into a new working environment can be nerve-wracking, but the insights you’ll gain are invaluable.

WHAT NEXT?

Whatever your chosen branch of Nursing, there’s no doubt that the skills needed to succeed in the field straddle the personal and professional. If you want to stand out in the working world, you need to develop practical and emotional skills. Investing in an overseas nursing programme will give you the boost you need to get ahead.

If you’ve made it this far down the page, congratulations! You’re well on your way to starting an overseas nursing programme of your very own. Fill out the short enquiry form at the bottom of the page and a member of our friendly, expert team will be in touch. If you can’t wait any longer and want to speak to us now, call 01273 974634.

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