by Work the World

Why Go Overseas?

So, you’re here because you're considering nursing abroad. Or maybe you’re still playing with the idea but on the fence about taking the plunge. Or maybe you landed here by accident. Whatever your purpose, this post focuses on the benefits of undertaking your nursing elective overseas and why you should stop thinking about it as a luxury and start thinking of it as a necessity.

1. ​​​​It looks amazing on your CV

The Best

Nothing says ‘employability’ like a CV chock full of nursing experience overseas. When a potential employer reads over an application, the experience implied by your time abroad will jump off the page. They’ll be thinking ‘resourceful, resilient, determined’.

In a 2013 study, it was discovered that “[...] graduates who studied abroad as part of their degree are 24 percentage points more likely to find employment three years following graduation relative to their non-mobile peers.” (Di Pietro 2013).

That’s a statistic worth considering.

One of our former travellers who now works with a major global health charity in Southern Africa had this to say:

“An internship abroad stands out on your CV as a badge of durability, resourcefulness, and cross-cultural aptitude. It says you’ve seen and experienced things unknowable in places like the US, Australia, or the UK. It says you’ve solved problems and debated ethics that are simply taken for granted at home. It says that you've earned something few others have. Work the World prepares you in innumerable ways to be a better clinician and a better citizen of our planet - employers know this.” - John Hansen Brevetti 

Read more from John about how nursing abroad helped him kickstart his clinical career by clicking here.

We also asked Troy Peden, the founder and CEO of a successful overseas programme directory, what he thought:

"Working, interning or volunteering abroad is great for the resume and can often provide practical experiences that may not be available at home. Working abroad in medicine and health sciences offers you the chance to get to grips with public health topics that are not often issues at home, the opportunity to develop intercultural communication skills and deal with new and unique challenges. Future employers can see that you are flexible, motivated and dedicated to the greater good.

The biggest value, however, is the personal transformation that most travellers experience, the connection to locals, the relationship to the culture and the people that last a lifetime and the realization of what you are capable of and what you want your direction to be.”

2. Make lifelong friends (and international contacts)


If you have the courage to try nursing abroad, you’ll meet a whole cast of characters—from the people you’ll live with to the staff in the hospitals you’ll work in.

The benefits are twofold:

  • Sharing an experience like this with like-minded people from all over the world forms a special kind of bond — the memories you’ll make, and the friendships that created them, will last a lifetime
  • You’ll make invaluable international contacts, from your nursing counterparts to hospital directors

Shawna, a nurse who has travelled with us, adds this:

"My advice to anyone considering going overseas is to go in with an open mind and a positive attitude. Living in Africa is very different to living at home. Immerse yourself into a different way of living and a very different healthcare system, and you’ll come away having had the time of your life". Shawna Riley – Takoradi, Ghana

Read more about Shawna's experience here

3. See through a new lens


Seeing how other countries provide care will influence the way you view your own practices. You’ll become grateful for what you have back home and develop a new empathy for cultures that have considerably fewer resources. When you get to work in hospitals and embrace your host culture’s values — especially on a clinical level — you’ll begin to evaluate yourself and develop as a result.

"I honestly don’t feel I can put how much I have actually learned into words, but I would strongly encourage everyone to experience this if they can. I have always loved the NHS at home, but I’ve never been truly grateful. I’m going home a different person.” - Arwen GrahamKandy, Sri Lanka

Read more about what made Arwen’s trip special here.

4. Learn a language

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[Our Nepalese language teacher talks through disease translations]

Learning a second, third, or fourth language keeps your brain healthy. It’s useful in everyday life, it’s attractive to employers, and let’s be honest – it’s just plain impressive.

Making an effort to grasp the language will earn you the respect of local healthcare professionals, enhancing your experience. Couple that with the experience you’ll gain in the local healthcare system, and you’ll be an unstoppable force [note that we provide weekly language lessons in our houses to hel;p prepare you for your clinical experience].

But don’t just take our word for it:

“Learning Swahili really did help; the doctors and nurses appreciate it when you try to speak their language. Ask questions and be active in all that is going on around you.” - Samantha ScogginDar es Salaam, Tanzania

To discover more about Samantha’s experience in Tanzania, click here.

5. JOIN the global community.

Dinagyang Festival

Country borders are increasingly less relevant, and people are starting to think of themselves as World Citizens. Nursing abroad could be your first step toward joining this emerging global community.

Alex, one of our travellers, says that you’ll interact with people from around the globe and from all walks of life:

“One of the major perks of living in a house with other healthcare students worldwide is that the learning did not stop once you left the hospital. Returning to the house and discussing the cases you had seen that day was useful; it offered a great chance to ask students from other disciplines in other parts of the world questions and compare how care priorities varied between our respective countries. It also offered a great opportunity to gain a greater understanding of the different roles within the healthcare team.” - Alex WarrinerIloilo, Philippines

Read more details about Alex’s trip to the tropical archipelago of the Philippines here.

6. Grow as a person

Adult nursing placement in Arusha, Tanzania

If you choose to go nursing abroad, you’re going to learn. You’re going to learn a lot, and you’re going to learn a lot quickly, which is great. If you’re in a low-resource setting, you’ll pick up resilience from local staff who experience hardship as the norm. Your self-confidence will be continually boosted by challenging experiences that come with the territory. You’ll get much better at communicating as you’ll work in an environment where most patients won’t speak English. The list goes on.

Madeline travelled to Dar es Salaam recently, and she had this to say:

“An experience like this changes you. It changes the way you see yourself, it changes the way you see healthcare and especially changes you as a nurse. As challenging as it can be, I can now adapt as a nurse to my environment and provide better care for my patients. The experience so humbled me.” - Madeline NastalyDar es Salaam, Tanzania

More about Madeline’s nursing abroad experience can be found here.

7. See the world


There's no sense in heading to a new country without giving yourself time to explore it. Whether it’s trekking through the Himalayas in Nepal or exploring the Maasai markets in Tanzania, nursing abroad offers endless opportunities for adventure.

Many people dedicate a few weeks before or after their placement to travel. Cecilia, who travelled with us to Nepal, had an amazing time travelling after her placement:

“I started my adventures in Chitwan National Park. I rafted down the Rapti River, visited the native Tharu village, went on elephant safaris and went for a jungle trek. My next destination was Kathmandu. I spent my spare time exploring the city, then took a weekend trip to Pokhara, which I spent paragliding, hiking and visiting breathtakingly beautiful temples.” - Cecilia Marti

8. Learn what ‘nursing’ means around the world

Hospital orientation in Kandy, Sri Lanka

One of the most crucial takeaways from an internship abroad is discovering what the' nurse' title means globally. After all, nurses' methods, practices, beliefs, and values differ depending on where in the world you happen to be.

Nursing abroad allows you to share the skills and knowledge from your country and culture with equally dedicated people abroad. Better still, it works both ways; if you keep an open mind, you’ll pick up techniques to help you better professionally.

If you’re a student, the effect is even more powerful — working in a teaching hospital will put you with fellow nursing students. You can talk about the differences in how you’re being taught and what you’re learning until the cows come home.

Ashleigh experienced this exchange first-hand in The Philippines, where many nurses plan to come and study or work in the UK:

“I will take to the UK the appreciation of the things that we do have, but also the creativity of the nurses providing services and supplies for patients by using things resourcefully (e.g. making hand splints from cardboard boxes and papers, making neonatal oxygen masks using dextrose bottles cut to size) and also how wasteful we can be. I will also take back how happy-spirited the healthcare professionals were. Every day, laughing, smiling and willing to teach as well as wanting to learn.” - Ashleigh Buncombe PaulIloilo, Philippines

The rest of Ashleigh’s experience is detailed here.

You deserve to seize the opportunity to try nursing overseas. Why not put yourself ahead of the pack and steer your nursing career towards something extra special?

If you’ve made it this far down the page, you’re ready to take the first step. Click this link to read more about nursing abroad, or fill out the enquiry form with your details to find out more.


Browse our destinations across Africa and Asia to learn about the once-in-a-lifetime travel and placement opportunities on offer.

What do our nursing electives abroad offer?

A Work the World nursing elective abroad gives you the chance to undertake a clinical placement in the developing world. You will spend time in a low-resource hospital and see unfamiliar practices and advanced conditions. You can even choose the departments you want to rotate through. We cater to all nursing branches including: - Adult Nursing, Child Nursing, Mental Health Nursing and Learning Disability Nursing.

What are the benefits of a Work The World nursing elective abroad?

The benefits of our nursing electives include:

  • Getting invaluable clinical experience in the field
  • Making yourself more attractive to employers
  • Building your professional network
  • Doing some proper travelling

How long is a nursing placement abroad with Work The World?

A nursing elective abroad is as long as you want it to be. Our minimum placement duration is one week, but students typically travel on their nursing electives for 4-6 weeks. There is no upper limit to how long you can travel for.

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