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Global Health Nursing and You

By traveling abroad, nurses can work with other healthcare professionals to alleviate or prevent health crises. With an expanding patient population throughout the world, nurses are needed to provide care and lend their valuable nursing knowledge and clinical expertise. The curriculum in an RN to BSN program prepares nurses to pursue a position as a global health nurse.

What Is a Global Health Nurse?

A global health nurse is also called an international health nurse. The job of global health nurses is the same as RNs in all specialties but they work as part of an international healthcare team. Their nursing responsibilities include performing assessments, determining diagnoses, creating health plans, incorporating evidence-based practice and delivering care.

Moreover, global health nurses must understand how health systems operate in different countries so they can contribute to the development and implementation of care models. Their role is to promote preventive health measures, educate individuals and communities about healthy lifestyle choices, and conduct research to find methods to stop the spread of disease. Global health nurses must also recognize and take into consideration the social determinants of health on a population.

What Are Social Determinants of Health on a Population?

Social determinants can create disparity in healthcare, increase harmful health behaviors and raise the rate of adverse patient outcomes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) list these, among other conditions, as social determinants that may have negative effects on health:

  • Poverty
  • Substandard education
  • Unsafe neighborhood
  • Unstable housing

Where Do Global Health Nurses Work?

Global health nurses can work in all types of settings in the United States and abroad. They may find employment in the following settings and organizations:

  • American Embassy and the Department of State
  • Global Health Council
  • Hospitals
  • International Committee of the Red Cross
  • Private nonprofit organizations
  • Refugee Relief International
  • United Nations
  • S. Agency for International Development
  • S. Government
  • World Health Organization

What Health Issues Do Global Health Nurses Encounter?

Global health nurses encounter a number of issues that necessitate interprofessional and interagency cooperation.

The response to health emergencies — as well as the preparation and prevention — may require the involvement of governments and nonprofits, and in some cases assistance from private companies or foundations. Widespread health issues include:

  • Emerging infectious diseases
  • Epidemics
  • Death of newborns due to preventable complications
  • Global warming
  • Human trafficking
  • Maternity mortality during or after pregnancy
  • Terrorism

How Does an RN to BSN Program Prepare Nurses for Global Health Nursing?

In an RN to BSN program, students expand their skills in critical thinking, communication and problem-solving, which are all needed to make life-and-death decisions. In addition, students gain knowledge about global health risks such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, smoking, pollution, and harmful chemicals and toxins.

Furthermore, students explore how geopolitical, socioeconomic and environmental factors can disrupt the delivery of healthcare. RN to BSN programs also cover the impact religious practices, armed conflict and rapid economic development may have on an individual’s health or ability to recover.

The goal of global health nurses is to improve health outcomes and reduce the number of premature deaths. Global health nurses are culturally sensitive, compassionate and collaborative. And, they are able to adapt to chaotic and unfamiliar situations. Their preparation provides them with the necessary proficiencies and competencies to work in international health systems. To become a global health nurse, consider enrolling in an online RN to BSN program, a convenient and affordable way to earn a bachelor’s degree.

Learn more about TAMIU’s online RN to BSN program.


Johns Hopkins Nursing: A Global Profession

The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing: Global Health and Nursing: So You Want to Make a Difference in Global Health?

The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing: Emerging Global Health Issues: A Nurse’s Role

DailyNurse: International Health Nurse/Global Health Nurse

Scrubs Mag: Nursing Abroad: Becoming an International Nurse

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Social Determinants of Health: Know What Affects Health


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