An important part of becoming a humanitarian worker is preparing yourself for what that actually means. Though you may be tempted to throw yourself into the work, without proper preparation you might become a burden rather than an asset. To prepare for humanitarian work, you should:
- Educate yourself on humanitarian work by reading about it, taking a training course, or getting a formal education in humanitarian issues or medical training, like a nurse practitioner certification.
- Brush up on relevant foreign language skills and do some research on the areas you want to serve.
- Be prepared with copies of your resume and up to date immunizations. Don’t forget an up to date passport, too.
- Make sure you’re healthy and take a First Aid course.
- Have insurance because where you’re going will often be dangerous.
- Being a healthcare humanitarian can take many forms. Here are just a few of those.
Disaster Relief Nursing
Disaster relief nursing is physically and mentally exhausting, yet ultimately very rewarding. Those wishing to participate in disaster relief nursing can typically do so whether they have a technical certificate, Associate’s Degree, or Bachelor’s Degree in nursing. Nurses seeking to participate in the humanitarian efforts of disaster relief nursing can do so through the American Red Cross or other NursingWorld.com recommended relief organizations. Those who are involved in disaster relief nursing may stay close to home or travel abroad during crises such as earthquakes, flooding, etc.
Primary Healthcare Nurse
Nurses who pursue higher degrees and can practice as primary care providers can find humanitarian positions for organizations such as International Committee of the Red Cross’s Primary Health Doctor/Nurse position. These organizations often offer health care abroad to underprivileged or indigenous people. The better your medical knowledge and certifications, the better you can help those you set out to help.
Community Health Specialist/Educator
Physician’s Assistant and some health care workers with a Master’s or Bachelor’s degree in Nursing are eligible for global positions as Community Health Educators/Specialists through the Peace Corps. These positions are offered in a variety of countries and involved health promotion, maternal/child health, HIV prevention and mitigation, and more. Most of these positions accept couples, which can often be hard to find for other, similar organizations.
The opportunities for humanitarian health care workers are theoretically endless. Organizations like Doctors without Borders, the International Medical Corps, and other, previously mentioned organizations are all places of opportunity for the humanitarian health care worker. Positions are available in education, disaster relief, midwifery and more. Explore any of these organizations or the countless other to find the perfect opportunity for you.