Nurse Volunteer Opportunities: Helping during disaster

male-nurse-angelWhen the sad images of people suffering through disasters flicker across the television screen, many nurses feel the tug in themselves to do something to help.

In fact, many want to jump right up, get in their car, and drive to the area in need to supply assistance.

With the recent disaster in the Philippines, more and more nurses are considering volunteering their time to organizations that support these disasters.

Of course, we usually feel a sense of personal satisfaction doing our job, but helping out after a hurricane, earthquake, or tornado can give us a greater sense of doing the most good.

The opportunities for nurse volunteering are endless.  You can start small and volunteer for blood pressure readings in your hometown or give at free clinics.

Don’t ignore the small opportunities to give your time, even if your goal is to travel the world helping the less fortunate.

Deciding to Volunteer

You should consider a few issues before deciding to volunteer.  Most of these organizations cannot afford travel and lodging for the nurses that work for them, so it helps to have some money saved up for expenses.

If you have a family, it may be more difficult to volunteer, unless it is at a local level.

Many volunteer opportunities ask you to be away from your home for months at a time, and this can put a strain on familial relationships.

You should also expect to work hard.

The reason these areas need nurse volunteers is because there are too many patients for too few nurses, and this means that you need to be able to handle the stress that is inherent in nursing work.

Disaster Volunteering

Volunteering when there is a disaster in some part of the world is probably the easiest way to get involved in volunteer nursing beyond the local level.

Often, these types of jobs pay for you to go to the disaster area and provide for your room and board.

The Red Cross is the best place to volunteer for disaster nursing, and this organization doesn’t mean that you necessarily have to travel to far off places.

This popular organization does a great deal of local work, as well.

Other volunteer groups exist, and the competition to be among the nurse volunteers to disaster areas can be high.

You need to make sure that you have all of your paperwork prepared – license, passport, vaccinations, and so on – so that you can become one of the nurses that can provide a helping hand to those in need.

Volunteering Abroad

If you want to make your volunteering a lifestyle choice, you could choose to volunteer abroad.

“If you want adventure with your nursing, you can’t go wrong with this route.”

Many countries in the third world need skilled nursing professionals to help care for the many patients they see.

For instance, I thought that volunteering in Africa, particularly Tanzania, would be a great adventure and good use of my skills.

I found that individual groups within the country are contacts for nurses looking to live in country and volunteer.

However, you do have to sign contracts for a specific amount of time and arrange your own flight to the country.

Some groups do have living facilities for volunteer nurses, but this is by no means guaranteed.  If you want adventure with your nursing, you can’t go wrong with this route.


Besides the Red Cross and Google, where can nurses go if they want to volunteer?

First, start locally and find the clinics and shelters in your area that may need nurses for various assignments.

If you have bigger ambitions in mind, then you can look into a few other organizations.

Project Hope is an organization run by medical professionals who provide assistance in disaster zones and underserved populations.

This link provides a list of the most popular organizations for volunteering, including Doctors without Borders.

If you are truly interested in volunteering your nursing skills, research is important and can lead you to the organization that most closely fills your needs.

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