Despite the amazing advances made in the field of medicine during the last century, not everyone has access to proper medical care, even today. Individuals in undeveloped and developing regions of the world, for instance, often suffer from frequent illnesses, due to a lack of proper healthcare facilities and modern medicine.

Missionary nurses work to help fight illnesses in these areas, by caring for residents’ physical and spiritual needs.

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A story from Doctors Without Borders Nurse

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What is a Missionary Nurse?
What do Missionary Nurses Do?
Where do Missionary Nurses Work?
How do I Become a Missionary Nurse?

What is a Missionary Nurse?

A missionary nurse cares for patients in underdeveloped and developing regions of the world. Because these areas often don’t have access to the advanced medical technologies or even proper medicines, a missionary nursing career is often very difficult. However, caring for underprivileged patients is one of the most rewarding aspects of being a missionary nurse.

Due to the immediate availability of hospitals, qualified medical professionals, and medicines in our country, we often take these luxuries for granted. Not everyone is as lucky, though. In other areas of the world, disease and infection run rampant and even simple necessities like antibiotics, vaccines, and even clean drinking water are largely unavailable. Because of this, even the most minor illnesses and infections can be fatal.

Missionary nurses help individuals in these regions get the medical care they need. In addition, they also believe that spiritual well-being goes hand in hand with physical well-being. Because of this, these nurses will also often share their spiritual beliefs with their patients as well.

A career as a missionary nurse is not without its disadvantages. As a missionary nurse, you will often find yourself in remote areas of the world, without the everyday luxuries you’re used to, including running water and proper shelter. Some of these areas may even be dangerous, due to disease or war. Language barriers can also make this job even more difficult.

Working as a missionary nurse, however, can also be very rewarding. In addition to seeing the world and experiencing different cultures, you’ll also have the peace of mind that you’re helping individuals that are truly in need.

What do Missionary Nurses Do?

Theresa Tierney with some of the children in her care.

Theresa Tierney with some of the children in her care.

Missionary nurses perform the same basic tasks as traditional nurses. This may include assessing and caring for patients who are ill and injured. They may administer medications, set broken bones, dress wounds, and even deliver newborns. However, missionary nurses have a number of obstacles that make their jobs much harder. For example, missionary nurses typically work in undeveloped or developing nations. This means that they are often working with limited resources. In some areas, everyday luxuries like electricity, telephone service, and even running water are non-existent.

Preventing illnesses in these areas is often a primary goal of missionary nurses as well. To do this, they will often administer vaccinations to adults and children, as well as educate individuals on ways to eliminate infection causing micro-organisms. For instance, missionary nurses may stress the importance of good hygiene and clean drinking water, by showing them how to create a dedicated toilet area and how to boil water to kill bacteria.

Other skills, besides nursing skills, are also important to have if you wish to become a missionary nurse. You will often be expected to jump in and help wherever you are needed. This can include digging wells, erecting buildings, preaching, or teaching basic skills.

Where do Missionary Nurses Work?

Typically, missionary nurses work with churches, non-profit organizations, and humanitarian groups. They work all over the world, usually in undeveloped, developing, and remote regions.

How do I Become a Missionary Nurse?

As with any nursing career, you will first need to obtain a nursing diploma or degree and pass a licensing examination before pursuing a missionary nursing career. You should also focus on becoming fluent in a few different languages, as well as studying different customs and cultures.

Below is the educational path for many Missionary Nurses (lowest to highest level of education)

Educational TrackSchool ProgramsAverage Education LengthChoosing Online or Campus
Earn a Bachelors DegreeView Programs4 Years Online or Campus
Earn a MSN DegreeView Programs2 Additional YearsOnline or Campus
Earn a PHD or DNPView Programs2-4 Additional YearsOnline or Campus

Some nursing experience may also be required as will a solid foundation of spiritual beliefs. Finally, you must also hold a current unrestricted travel visa and obtain nursing licensure in the country where you will be practicing.