Cruise Ship Nursing

A ship at sea is in its own world. Whatever happens, the people on board the ship must be prepared to deal with it on their own. Such is also the case for nurses who work on board cruise ships. Whatever emergency scenarios that can happen on dry land are also possible in the high seas.

Rich Experience

Cruise ship nurses go through a wider range of daily experiences as compared to regular nurses. Ask any resident nurses on board a cruise ship and you will probably get pretty unique responses. It’s been commented that the experience is like working with frontier medicine, where ancillary personnel is not available on board. Thus, a cruise ship nurse would be a combination of respiratory therapist, X-ray technician, lab technician, critical care nurse, and mother to about 700 crew members! Also, as the crew work with different types of machinery and equipment, it is fairly common for accidents to happen.

Most cruise ship nurses have about 10 years of service backgrounds in emergency and critical care. For instance, a Virginia-based health cruise service company provides health services for cruise ships with a minimum requirement of five years in emergency or critical care for their recruits. The nurses are hired on a contract basis that lasts between one to six months. Once their term is up, the nurses go on break with the contract only renewed if they decide to continue working on a cruise ship.

Emergency Response Team

The reason for the necessity to recruit nurses from backgrounds in emergency or critical care is because there is a huge variety of possible scenarios on board a cruise ship. During these instances, nurses on board are the ambulance and 911 response team all rolled into one. Many cruise nurses have commented that life aboard a cruise ship has been nerve wracking, more so than in a hospital!

International Cultural Exchange

Nevertheless, life as a cruise ship nurse can be very rewarding. Most people who sign up for it don’t do it for the money; they do it for the rich experience it affords. With crews from over 60 different countries, there are a lot of different cultures nuances that can be learned working as a cruise ship nurse. During the course of treating patients, nurses have learned about cultural differences, especially in terms of the speed in which patients come to them for treatment. For example, Italians will show up for treatment quickly, as opposed to the Chinese who will usually try out holistic remedies first.

Stringent Requirements

As nurses working on board ships need to be fairly independent, the requirements for applications can be very daunting. The application process itself is more rigorous than that of hospitals, where case studies and tests are incorporated as part of the curricula.

Despite these difficulties, there are still many nurses interested on a position on board cruise liners. Perhaps one of the most rewarding aspects of this vocation is that these nurses get respect and thanks from those they serve, an element which is difficult to replace. Sometimes that is all that matters.

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