Questions to Ask Before Travelling Abroad

It is essential to know the questions to ask before travelling abroad. Many healthcare professionals look for career opportunities overseas to, expand their clinical skills, take the opportunity to travel the world and improve their lives and those of their families. In fact, most health professionals roles like nursing are in high demand all over the world, meaning they can use their qualifications to fund a trip overseas and earn money along the way. It is therefore important to know what questions to ask before travelling.


A click of the mouse is all it takes to find a large number of overseas opportunities, with the internet littered with jobs for health professionals looking for a change. Many promising a good income, great work opportunities and in some cases, free flights and accommodation will be taken care of. It can a very exciting time, but also become very doubting.

Opportunities range from jobs in the United Kingdom, Middle East, New Zealand and Australia or even the ski fields of Italy. Paid holiday leave, accommodation and return flights home to visit family are part of the package in some cases. All health professionals have to do is decide on a country, investigate the opportunity and apply for the chance of a lifetime.


Not surprisingly, it’s an increasingly appealing prospect for some. Depending on the opportunities you settle on, a year or so working overseas can propel the career of a young professional toward more senior roles far faster than sticking with the same role back at home.

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Some of the benefits of working abroad include:

  • Experiencing a new culture
  • Earning money while seeing the world
  • Improved standard of living and quality of life
  • Enjoying different working conditions and practices
  • Returning home to fresh work opportunities
  • Sending money home to support the extended family


However, like all overseas opportunities, it is wise to make full investigation of your working and living arrangements to avoid getting any nasty surprises when showing up for your first day of work.



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[How to Prepare for Working Abroad as a Healthcare Professional]



Here are the top 10 questions to ask before travelling abroad as a healthcare professionals:


1. What are my daily roles and responsibilities?

Ensure you get a job description or discuss the role with your future line manager, this will ensure the role you have applied for does reflect your experience, your current knowledge and skills and allows to see if it is a job your willing to do. Don?t be pushed to except positions you have no experience, this is unsafe for you and the patient. In fact the WHO have published the Code of Conduct for International Recruitment and have asked employers and agents to ensure healthcare professionals are only placed in roles that reflect their clinical expertise.


2. What support will I receive when I arrive?

This is a very broad questions and should covered with the following additional questions, will anyone meet me at the airport when I arrive? How will I get to my accommodation from the airport? Will I be shown around the local neighbourhood? Is food provided on arrival or are there any local shops nearby? Do I need to have any cash with me when I arrive to buy essentials? What happens on my first day? How will I get to work on the first day? Does the employer provide uniforms? Will I receive a period of induction to the hospital and role? These are all important questions to ask before travelling.


3. What is the monthly expected income after tax?

Many nurses forget this question or embossed to ask and are then surprised when they arrive and find up to 45% of their salary is taken, leaving them little money to live or send home. Your employer and agency must provide your basic salary and additional potential income e.g. bonuses. In regard to tax, your employer and agent can provide this information or you can search for this information on google. Ask about opportunities to earn additional money for example unsociable hours, over-time and bank shifts. Good employers will also provide with details of potential expenditure, giving you a good idea as to how much money you will have left over.


4. How much paid annual leave will I get?

Annual leave various depending on the country you work and the employer you work for. Annual leave can range from 2 weeks to 16 weeks. It is also important to ask for ?paid? annual leave as many employers are happy to provide generous annual leave, however unpaid. It is also important to know how annual leave is requested and the likelihood it will be approved. Many employers have strict policies in the numbers of staff they can release at one given time and the duration of the holiday, by asking these questions it will allow you to assess if the employer is right for you.


5. What is the address of the employer and the address of my accommodation?

Once you obtain this information, use google maps to compare the distance to ensure you can get to work or expected to cover the travel costs. Good employers and agents should have this covered and will either provide free transport or fund the transport until you receive your first salary. This is therefore an important questions to ask before travelling.


6. What is the accommodation like?

Many nurses have been left stunned upon their arrival when faced with dormitory, cubical or shared accommodation. Whilst this is fine for many, it is important to know the cleanliness of the accommodation, facilities and management arrangement if something goes wrong. Ask for photo?s and inventory to list what is provided and what is not. This could be a pricey mistake if faced with accommodation that needs to be furnished.


7. Will I have free health insurance?

Whilst it is unlikely that you?ll need any medical treatment whilst working abroad, but it can and does happen. Ensure your employer or agent provides details of your health insurance cover whilst abroad, otherwise it can be a very expensive mistake, therefore this is an important questions to ask before travelling.


8. How do I open a bank account?

One of the main reasons for travelling abroad is to earn money. Therefore it is essential you can open a local bank account. Ask your agent or employment about these arrangements and how quickly if will happen. Some banks can take up to 3 months to open a new account for an overseas worker. This can delaying your salary and placing you in a difficult position.


9. What is the process to stay permanently?

1 in 4 nurses globally are migrants according to the WHO, and this is expected to grow over the next 10 years whilst we become more mobile. It is however essential you understand your residency rights in the country you choose to work. Many nurses full in love with the country they migrate, even if it was to gain some short-term experience. Many nurses meet their partners, for many it is the weather or standard of living. Therefore, before you travel, understand your immigration rights in case you choose to stay. It can be very painful and emotional if you?re forced to leave at the end of your contract.


10. Will I have the opportunities for further education and promotions?

There are some amazing opportunities out there that can boost your career. But be careful and aware that each employer will have different agendas and values regarding offering training and promotional opportunities to overseas workers. It can become very frustrating and hurtful when employers prioritise local workers for training and promotions. Therefore it is important to ask the questions. Will I have equal opportunity to training and promotions? Have a look at the employer?s website, their policies and values. Good employers will publish their diversity and equality policies on their website to assure current and prospective employees. Ask the employer or agency if they have any current nurse leaders within their organisation who reflect your background. This is an indicator that equality is in practice with that organisation.


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Do you agree these are the 10 most important questions to ask before travelling abroad to work as a healthcare professional?

If you have already travelled abroad to work, what other questions should have you asked before migrating?

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