What Does a Missionary Nurse Do?
Missionary nurses are specially trained to meet both the physical and spiritual needs of people in other nations who are in dire need of health care. Not only do missionary nurses treat illnesses and injuries, but they also share their faith with people from other cultures. In fact, they tend to believe faith and healing go hand-in-hand. Many missionary nurses also do humanitarian work in third-world countries, and view their work as a calling, rather than a profession. In addition to meeting health care needs, missionary nurses also return to the states to raise awareness and funds for much-needed projects going on in foreign countries, such as digging clean water wells, building schools and teaching impoverished communities viable job skills. Missionary nurses set up clinics in under-served areas where they not only meet health care needs, but they also educate patients on proper nutrition and dental care. They typically receive their support from churches and other nonprofit organizations.
How Can I Become a Missionary Nurse?
The first step toward becoming a missionary nurse is to complete an approved nursing education program here in the U.S. The most common way of doing this is to earn either an associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited college or university. Less common is earning a nursing diploma through a hospital. During your nursing education, it is helpful to take elective courses in international health care. After completing a nursing education program, all future nurses go on to take an exam called the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination) so they can become licensed to practice nursing. Registered nurses who plan on working overseas will need to follow the regulations put into place by the host country to become licensed to practice nursing there and to acquire a work visa. The process differs from country to country. Most missionary nurses connect with a religious nonprofit organization and travel along with a humanitarian/missionary outreach team to the host country. Many missionary nurses have seminary training or some other form of religious training. It is also useful to become fluent in the language of the host country.
What Is the Career and Salary Outlook for a Missionary Nurse?
The career outlook for missionary nurses should remain consistent as missionary and humanitarian groups continue to arrange for medical teams to be brought to impoverished countries. There continues to be a great demand for nursing care in third-world countries and even in the rural and undeveloped areas of wealthier countries. However, missionary nurses generally don’t go into this line of work to make a lot of money. In fact, many work on a volunteer and temporary basis as missionary nurses; others are given only a regular stipend to cover basic living expenses. Missionary nurses earn different salaries depending on the financial strength of the church or nonprofit organization that is sending them. Due to the downturn in the economy, charitable giving that funds mission programs has taken a serious hit, and that is reflected in missionary nurse salaries. However, many discover that missionary nursing is so spiritually rewarding that it doesn’t matter to them if they don’t earn a lot of money doing it.