Most people (with the exception of sailors and entertainers) don’t think “full-time job” when they hear the words “cruise ship”. Most of us think of a cruise as a getaway, our chance to leave work and worries behind for an all-inclusive, buffet-filled vacation at sea. But running a cruise ship takes a lot of manpower behind the scenes, especially when it comes to heath care.
More and more people are taking cruises every year, with the industry continually setting new records for numbers of passengers. In 2016, attendance jumped to a record 24.2 million people who cruised worldwide, and when the number of people grows, the potential for health issues grows as well.
Time Magazine compiled a list of some of the significant disease outbreaks aboard cruise ships in the past few years—including the norovirus outbreak on Royal Caribbean that infected over 600, and back to back outbreaks on Princess and Celebrity cruises that sickened over 1500 passengers combined. Passengers can also be injured or infected while exploring ports. And if that’s not enough, the rising and falling seas while onboard (combined with steps, wet surfaces, and alcohol) often lead to slips and falls… especially among elderly passengers.
All that to say… a cruise ship may sound like paradise, but they definitely rely heavily on their ship nurses, and if you’re looking for an opportunity to provide health care while traveling, then a cruise line may be one possible fit.
In most cases, ship nurses report directly to the ship doctor / physician, and work under the supervision of the lead nurse (also a solid career opportunity). In addition to assisting the ship doctor and lead nurse in a broad range of medical care, ship nurses are also usually the first line of defense when an injury or illness is reported—one reason why many cruise lines prefer to hire nurses with emergency room experience.
Interested? Nurse.org offers a few of the pros and cons of the position. In the “positive” column, the website lists the flexibility of short-term contracts, travel, chances to explore international ports, and generally more responsibility than one might find in a traditional nursing position. Under the “negatives” column, they list the stress of multi-month deployments (especially for those with a family), a competitive job market, and a lower than average pay rate… although they also mention that due to the free room and board the job offers, the salaries tend to even out.
For many nurses, though, such as Nurse Joan Jones, the experience is one they return to again and again. “It can be like a working vacation,” she says. “It is far less stressful than a hospital environment.”
(It might be a good idea to make sure you aren’t prone to sea sickness before you apply, though, or you may spend as much time in the sick bay as the people you’re treating!)
If you’d like more information on exploring a career in nursing, contact Unitek College today for more information on our multiple nursing and medical assistant programs.