“Give every day the chance to become the most beautiful day of your life.” —Mark Twain

Today more than ever, nurse educators must consider global health when planning and developing nursing courses. A 2007 study published in the National League for Nursing’s research journal, Nursing Education Perspectives, found that globalization has had a significant impact on health and it is imperative to include global health topics in all nursing curricula. Topics should include: the role of the global health nurse, various diseases, and the impact of global diseases on health care. Cole Edmonson and colleagues argue that in order to effectively address global health preparedness there needs to be interprofessional cooperation among non-profits, private companies, and governments.

Global Health Nursing

Global health nursing roles include short and long-term engagements, and some schools even provide opportunities for their students, which can be quite rewarding. Global nurses can also practice within their own borders by practicing with a focus on health equity, says Thomas Quinn, MD, MSc, the director of Johns Hopkins Center for Global Health. For example, nurses can volunteer to teach in community-based education programs.

Nurses who are interested in global health can also make monetary donations or collect donation items for global groups that support a variety of global initiatives. For instance, the Peace Corps has volunteer opportunities and paid positions for nurses, and the International Volunteer HQ has myriad opportunities for nurses and students nurses to serve overseas. Another agency, Health Volunteers Overseas, seeks to recruit nurse educators and nurse practitioners to serve as clinical mentors and teachers. The assignments range from 2-4 weeks. Some nurses may choose to obtain full-time employment as international health nurses and/or international travel nurses and may work in a variety of settings and countries. There are many requirements to fulfill, and it can be a daunting experience to arrange for licensure, visas, travel, housing accommodations, and health requirements.

General Requirements for Nurses

  • Minimum of two years experience
  • Knowledgeable on communicable diseases
  • Up to date on immunizations
  • Available for entire length of time required

It is best to work with an agency who can help facilitate the experience and ensure that all requirements are met.

Select Agencies

  • United Nations
  • World Health Organization
  • The Peace Corps
  • The American Red Cross
  • Catholic Relief Services
  • Centers for Disease Control
  • Unicef

Nurse educators must stay abreast of current and future global health issues and continually update their courses. Global health topics may be incorporated into the curriculum as a standalone course or integrated throughout the curriculum. Hospital-based educators should also incorporate global health topics into their orientation and competency programs.

Key Global Health Issues
  • Emerging Infectious Diseases
  • Human Trafficking
  • Nurses and Health Equalities
  • Maternal-newborn health
  • Preventable childhood illnesses
  • Immunizations
  • Unsafe Drinking Water
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Hunger
  • HIV and AIDS related illnesses
  • UN Millennial Goals
  • Malaria
  • TB

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Deborah Dolan Hunt, PhD, RN

Deborah Dolan Hunt, PhD, RN, is an associate professor of nursing at The College of New Rochelle. She is the author of The New Nurse Educator: Mastering Academe, The Nurse Professional: Leveraging Education for Transition into Practice, and Fast Facts About the Nursing Profession: Historical Perspectives in a Nutshell.
Deborah Dolan Hunt, PhD, RN

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