Most employees wait until retirement to travel extensively, but cruise ship nurses (CSN) can travel while working. While this deal sounds irresistible, cruise ship nurses need extensive education and experience to serve on board. Most cruise ships require nurses that have the ability to work well with other people and solid ER and ICU skills to meet the challenge of medical emergencies at sea.

Duties of a Cruise Ship Nurse

CSNs deal with colds, flu, chronic illnesses, work-related injuries, births, deaths and medical emergencies. And, they face these challenges with a minimal staff. A ship that carries 2,500 passengers and 1,000 crew typically carries two physicians and three nurses as mandated by law. Smaller ships may employ just one doctor and two nurses. Additionally, cruise ship nurses often need to go through security and ship evacuation training since they are expected to organize emergency medical evacuations and accompany a crew or passenger by helicopter to a hospital. Another requirement is paperwork as ship nurses do not have clerical staff support. Ship nurses typically file insurance claims and keep a set of medical records on every crew member and passenger.

Related Types of Nurses

A person with the educational and work experience that would qualify him or her for a job as a cruise ship nurse might also be interested in careers or jobs as a traveling nurse. These jobs are offered through various nurse employment agencies, and they provide qualified nurses with part-time jobs in various states and/or countries. Other considerations include overseas, development, volunteer, missionary or refugee nursing.

Another route to consider that includes travel is the military nurse. Army ROTC Nurse Cadets have an opportunity for a unique summer nursing experience. The paid, three-week Nurse Summer Training Program assigns Cadets to Army hospitals throughout the U.S. and Germany. The program introduces you to the Army Medical Department (AMEDD) and to the roles and responsibilities of an Army Nurse Corps Officer. Under the supervision of an experienced Army Nurse Corps Officer, you will obtain hands-on experience.

Cruise Ship Nursing Degrees

Most cruise lines require a diploma from an accredited nursing school with a minimum of two years’ recent hospital experience. Some cruise lines require up to ten years of experience, especially in ICU. Experience with simple laboratory and x-ray procedures is recommended, and a proficiency with IV cannulation and venipuncture is a priority. Additionally, the International Council of Cruise Lines (ICCL), the industry’s governing body, requires all cruise ship nurses to be certified in, or have equivalent training in, advanced cardiac life support. In all cases, experience with cardiac care, trauma, internal medicine and fluent English language skills are required. According to a recent ad for a ship’s nurse for Carnival, their applicants must pass a medication administration exam, demonstrate adequate experience with nursing procedures on their skills check list and must pass a pre-employment physical examination and be deemed fit for duty at sea.

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