Using Your Nursing Skills in a Crisis


nursing in crisisIt seems that one natural disaster after another is taking place, from multiple hurricanes battering the US and Caribbean islands to major earthquakes devastating communities. The people left reeling in these disaster-stricken areas all have a serious need for help, including nursing care. Often there are is a larger than normal medical need in the areas surrounding a disaster and nurses already on the ground may be unable to work due to their own personal circumstances.

Who Is a Suitable Candidate?

Nursing in a disaster situation is not something that every person is cut out to handle. Working in a devastated area may mean poor conditions and limited equipment. You may have inadequate living conditions or be required to work very long hours on your feet. You should be a strong problem solver who can think on her feet and come up with solutions when there are few resources available.  If you are in good health, have the resolve and determination to handle harsh conditions, and are confident in your job-related skills and experience, you may find that working in disaster relief is a good choice for you.

How Do You Get Involved?

There are a number of organizations that assist nurses in finding opportunities to work in disaster relief situations. Volunteer organizations like the Salvation Army and the Red Cross can help to place nurses into areas of need. Medical staffing firms also are a great resource that can help you to temporarily relocate to an area that is in need of nurses who are willing to assist in crises. One important thing to remember is not to simply jump in your car and head to a place where you can help out. Organization in these situations is crucial, and the proper channels should be followed.

How Should You Prepare?

Find out about the resources that are available for those who are working within the devastated area. If there are shortages of supplies and provisions, consider bringing along your own if your source of travel permits. Keep in mind that stores may not be open, so personal items and toiletries should be brought with you. Most volunteer and staffing agencies will be able to advise you of the specific things you should and should not bring so that you can be prepared without burdening yourself with more than is necessary. Take heed of the advice given by these agencies, as storage areas may be limited for any baggage that you have brought along.

What Should You Expect to See?

Depending on the nature of the disaster, injuries could be severe and difficult to treat in less-than-ideal conditions. You may come into contact with those who have lost loved ones or are unable to locate their families. Homes, livelihoods, and belongings may have been obliterated. You will need to be ready to walk into rubble, floods, and any number of situations that may be upsetting or disturbing, while still keeping your mind on the job at hand.

If you are called to serve communities that are recovering from a natural disaster, know that though it is difficult at times, it may be some of the most rewarding work you will ever experience. Be prepared to hear devastating stories, see the beauty of a caring community, and create relationships that you will treasure for a lifetime.


Interested in helping those who were affected by the recent natural disasters, including hurricanes and wildfires? The hospitals, facilities, and schools that we partner with need your help! We have multiple openings across many specialties in healthcare, therapy, and education – head to check them out.


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