Many benefits go along with pursuing a career as a certified nursing assistant, or CNA, and opportunities for advancement is chief among them. While many start out as CNAs on their way to becoming LPNs and RNs, plenty of others happily remain CNAs throughout their careers. One reason is because there is so much variety, and travel nursing is a prime example. As a CNA, you have the opportunity to travel abroad to practice your skills in new and exciting settings. Should you decide to do so, however, it's crucial to take steps to maintain your personal well-being. Read on to learn more.
8 Ways to Stay Safe as a CNA Working Overseas
If you are fortunate enough to travel abroad to work as a CNA, keep these safety tips in mind:
- Know the risks - Depending on where in the world you go, you're likely to face certain risks that you're not accustomed to back home. From diseases like malaria and cholera to political upheavals that throw entire nations into chaos, it is imperative to know what you potentially face wherever you go to work as a CNA. That way, you can take the appropriate steps to protect yourself.
- Know the required vaccinations and immunizations - You almost certainly will have to catch up on at least a few vaccines or immunizations prior to traveling overseas to work as a CNA. Avoid problems later by getting up to speed about the types of immunizations and vaccines that you will need prior to entering the country. Although unlikely, it could be that you are already caught up and have nothing to worry about. More likely, however, you will have to visit a doctor or clinic to be brought current.
- Visit the doctor and dentist - Before leaving the country for any extended period of time, it is wise to get a quick wellness checkup from your doctor. Odds are that you will need a few immunizations or vaccinations, and those can be handled at this time as well. The doctor can check to ensure that you are in good overall health and that it is okay for you to leave the country. Schedule a dentist appointment too, as the last thing that you need is to end up with a major tooth problem while working as a CNA in a foreign country.
- Verify your insurance coverage - It is important to make sure that you will have access to the care that you need while you are abroad. Most US-based insurance plans offer limited coverage overseas, so read the fine print of your policy carefully. If you won't be covered while abroad, invest in travel insurance to protect yourself while you are there. You may also want to consider trip cancellation insurance and the like in the event that you are visiting a part of the world where you could be evacuated at some point.
- Take care with prescription medications - If you rely on prescription medications, take the steps that are needed to ensure that you don't run into any legal trouble while traveling with them. In particular, keep your medication in its original container, which should include basic information about your prescription, including your name and the name of your doctor. If the bottle doesn't include this information, obtain a copy of the prescription from your doctor. If the medication is a narcotic, include a doctor's note for extra safety. Obtain a medical ID bracelet if you suffer from certain conditions like epilepsy so strangers will know how to respond in the event of an emergency.
- Locate nearby medical facilities - With any luck, you won't need to go to the doctor or hospital at all while working abroad as a CNA. However, you don't want to be left scrambling around for one should you need one, so get the lay of the land and figure out where the nearest medical facilities are right away. Ideally, of course, you should find doctors who speak English. The local U.S. Consulate Office can help you in this regard by directing you to compatible facilities. Memorize the local emergency number for wherever you are visiting too, as it is only 911 in the United States.
- Bring medical supplies - Don't assume that you will be able to find what you need after arriving in your temporary new home. You should be especially careful about bringing along medical supplies, and a basic first aid kit is an excellent start. Even if you will be in a densely populated place with plenty of services in the vicinity, having access to medical supplies will give you peace of mind and a place to turn if something goes wrong. If you will be in a more isolated place, be especially careful about packing plenty of supplies.
- Let others know where you will be - A big part of staying safe while overseas working as a CNA is letting others know where you will be at any given time. For starters, contact the local consular office, and register your information with them. This should include the physical address where you are staying, contact information and information about the duration of your visit. It is also wise to touch base with people back home and to inform them of your basic itinerary. This is especially crucial if you will be working as a CNA overseas alone without a traveling companion. Over time, you will get to know others locally and shouldn't have to worry as much.
Like many people, you may be surprised to learn that a career as a CNA can take you to the far corners of the world. Should you decide to embark on this exciting career pursuit, keep the tips above in mind to stay safe and happy from beginning to end.