Many medics don’t realize that their career can provide them with the opportunity to travel the world or live in a new country either temporarily or permanently by serving in overseas paramedic jobs. However, if you are planning to become certified as an EMT-P, or currently hold your paramedic certification, and have a desire to see other parts of the world, there are plenty of opportunities abroad. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the agencies that hire for paramedics overseas and we’ll also discuss what types of roles medics serve in within these placements.
Types of Overseas Paramedic Jobs
If you’re seeking employment abroad as paramedic, you’ll be able to find both temporary and long-term positions. Let’s first discuss the types of openings you can find abroad and what role the paramedic would play in these overseas placements.
There are many areas around the globe that do not have access to quality medical care and several volunteer agencies have stepped in to help out by bringing in qualified health care professionals from developed nations to provide care for remote communities. These programs allow qualified health professionals, such as paramedics, the opportunity to serve in a volunteer capacity in many destinations around the globe. The programs can range anywhere from one week to a year with most of the organizations that coordinate these opportunities. While you aren’t paid for your work, your living expenses are generally covered. For example, programs through one of the very popular world health care volunteer agencies, A Broader View, range from one week to three months and during your time volunteering for your chosen project, you will be provided housing with a host family, as well as three meals per day.
Required working hours can also very from one project to the next, however, most of the projects require a full-time or near full-time commitment, often 35 to 40 hours per week. Other considerations you need to think about if you’re interested in serving on a volunteer project overseas as a paramedic include:
*Will you be required to bring any supplies with you to the project?
*Are there language requirements beyond English that are required?
*Will you be responsible for your own airfare to and from the project?
While most of the required supplies, if any, will be minimal (gloves, mask, diagnostic kits, etc.), it’s crucial that you find out about any secondary language requirements and airfare, as traveling to some volunteer destinations (particularly in Africa and Asia) by plane can often run into the thousands of dollars.
Again, these volunteer positions aren’t going to provide a boost to your bank account, but they will offer you the opportunity to see parts of the world that you may never have chosen to visit. They’ll also provide you with new professional abilities that can boost your confidence back home, as dealing with language and cultural barriers will help hone your interpersonal skills in ways that you wouldn’t be able to do in a more comfortable and familiar environment.
If you are interested in overseas volunteer opportunities as a paramedic, here are two links to begin your research:
Paid Contract Positions
For those who are interested in taking home a paycheck while visiting new parts of the world, there are countries which are seriously understaffed with prehospital care professionals. Some emergency medical agencies (particularly private hospitals and ambulance services) around the globe have turned to offering very attractive salary and benefits packages to entice qualified medical professionals from around the world to consider making the leap.
The pay and benefits will vary from one location to the next, but many paramedics who accept long-term contracts for overseas jobs regularly see pay levels reaching at least twice what they may be able to earn in the States. Vacation benefits are also typically better in most other countries than in the U.S., meaning paramedics abroad may receive two or three times the amount of paid time off that they received at home.
So where can you work exactly? Currently, the leading location for overseas paramedic jobs in terms of the number of openings is in the oil-producing countries of the Middle East, such as the United Arab Emirates (most notably Dubai) and Saudi Arabia. There are dozens of global petroleum companies operating in the region and they tend to fill clinics and ambulance services with contract workers from outside the region, as the number of qualified prehospital care professionals in these countries is extremely low. Petroleum companies also hire medics to staff oil rigs, which can provide another opportunity for those who wish to work abroad.
Additionally, there are civilian contract positions available with the U.S. military. These positions may be located at various bases throughout the world and allow a civilian paramedic the opportunity to provide care for armed forces members. While the pay for these positions is not as lucrative as it may be for private defense companies or hospital and ambulance staff members in the oil-rich nations of the Middle East, this can be an invaluable opportunity for paramedics who want to work overseas. The value of one of these positions on your resume upon returning to the U.S. cannot be overstated. You will become a very attractive job candidate.
For those interested in researching paid contract positions abroad as a paramedic, Simply Hired seems to have the most comprehensive listing of international positions for paramedics.
Furthermore, you may want to read through some of the posts on blogs from medics who are currently serving on extended contracts overseas. My favorite is MadDogMedic, however, you might also want to read through Jason Ernest’s very comprehensive commentary from a few years back at EMS World as the Middle East Medic.