The U.S. Military Health System is committed to providing high-quality health services to military personnel wherever they deploy. U.S. military installations exist in every part of the globe, from Europe to the Middle East, Asia, and beyond. While deployed at overseas bases, military personnel receive care at on-site facilities, including hospitals, inpatient facilities, ambulatory care, and occupational health facilities.
Securing a civilian position on a military base overseas offers registered nurses many unique opportunities to combine their passion for healthcare with the allure of living and working overseas. This experience provides opportunities to engage with people from other cultures. Civilian nurses are in demand throughout the military health system. Still, the competition for overseas positions is intense.
For the right person, working as a civilian nurse on a military base abroad offers multiple benefits, including:
- Cultural Exploration: Living in foreign countries provides a unique chance to explore new cultures, learn languages, and experience life from a different perspective.
- Professional Growth: Exposure to diverse medical cases, especially those related to military service, can enhance your nursing expertise.
- Serving Those Who Serve: It’s a chance to give back and provide care to service members who dedicate their lives to their country.
While there are numerous advantages, there are challenges to working as a civilian nurse on an overseas military base. Some challenges include:
- Cultural Adjustments: Living overseas may mean adjusting to new cultures, customs, and languages. This change can be exhilarating but can also be overwhelming.
- Distance from Loved Ones: Being far from family and friends might be challenging, especially during holidays or special occasions. Make a plan to stay in touch while also building new friendships overseas.
- Unique Medical Cases: Due to the nature of military service, you might encounter trauma cases or injuries not commonly seen in civilian healthcare settings.
7 Steps to Find Civilian Nursing Jobs on Military Bases Overseas
- Research and Identify Opportunities: The Defense Health Agency, a joint, integrated Combat Support Agency, serves the medical needs of all the branches of the military, enabling the Army, Navy, and Air Force medical services to provide a medically ready force. Civilian staff may be recruited directly through the DHA or government healthcare contractors like Epic Government. When researching government healthcare contractors, look for organizations with a good track record of partnering with the federal government and a commitment to their employees.
- Consider securing a US-based position first. According to the Defense Health Agency FAQ, the DHA recruits for international assignments from internal candidates first.
- Expand Your Professional Network: Joining nursing organizations and associations can offer connections to individuals who might have insights or contacts related to overseas nursing jobs. Attending military healthcare conferences or seminars can also help you meet the right people.
- Understand the Requirements: While possessing a valid nursing license is a given, some positions might demand experience in specialized areas or familiarity with military nursing protocols. Thoroughly read job descriptions to ensure you meet the criteria.
- Prepare for a Different Hiring Process: Recruitment and onboarding processes for civilian nursing jobs on military bases overseas might differ from standard procedures. There could be additional background checks, longer waiting times, or multiple interviews.
- Consider the Duration: Some positions might be short-term, requiring nurses to commit for a few months, while others might be longer. Determine what suits your personal and professional goals.
- Seek Testimonials: Connect with nurses who have previously worked or are currently working in such roles. They can provide valuable insights about the day-to-day realities of the job, the challenges, and the rewards.
After Securing the Job
Once you’ve secured a position overseas, there are a few more things to consider:
- Documentation: Ensure all your paperwork, from your nursing license to your passport, is in order. Depending on the country, additional work visas or permits may also be required.
- Prepare for Departure: Research the country to which you’ll be moving. Familiarize yourself with its culture, laws, and any safety concerns. Consider joining online forums or groups where current or former overseas civilian nurses share their experiences and advice.
- Foster Resilience: Once you arrive, there’ll be a period of adjustment. Embrace the changes, be open to learning, and seek support from colleagues and local communities.
Civilian nursing jobs on overseas military bases can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for nurses seeking a blend of professional challenge and cultural exploration. While it comes with its own set of challenges, the experience gained, the bonds formed, and the impact you can have on the lives of service members make it a career avenue worth considering.