As a cruise ship nurse, you will be working in the shipboard medical department. Within this diverse and welcoming environment, you will provide a broad range of nursing care, supported by a skilled medical team.
All ships have a well-equipped shipboard medical centre and all members of the healthcare team pride themselves on delivering patient-centric, evidence-based healthcare to guests and crew.
Responsibilities of a cruise ship nurse
- Deliver patient care for everything from first aid, seasickness and bad sunburns to more serious issues like cardiac arrest, severe injuries and critical care.
- Working with a team of fellow health professionals, ensure patients are stable enough to transfer to the nearest medical facility on land where necessary.
- Escort the patient on the journey to the nearest medical facility on land
- Perform technical and non-clinical administrative tasks to ensure the efficient and safe operation of the shipboard medical centre under the direct supervision of the senior nurse.
- Undertake equipment checks as well as medicine and inventory management.
- Build upon your existing skills, by participating in technical training in areas such as x-ray acquisition, laboratory testing and much more.
Shifts and Contracts
Shifts on board a cruise ship are comparable to typical nursing hours in the UK. On average, these shifts are around 12 hours and days off will be rotated. This will vary from ship to ship.
Cruise ship nurses usually work on a four-month contract. At the end of each four months, you will take two months off before beginning a new contract and heading back out to sea.
After securing your position, you will need to complete a pre-boarding process. This will include all ship safety requirements.
You will be flown from your nearest international airport to an airport close to where the ship is docked.
You'll then make your way to the port and board your new home. Your position will be confirmed the day you join the vessel. Please note, a start date might not be available even after you are ready to board, depending on allocated vacancies to new medical staff.
Once aboard, you’ll be shown around the shipboard medical centre and brought up to speed on how to operate any medical equipment with which you are unfamiliar.
- To work as a nurse on board a cruise ship you need to meet the following requirements;
- Hold a valid accredited ALS/ACLS certificate prior to joining any vessel
- Hold a valid passport
- Obtain a United States C1/D Visa (not applicable for US and Canadian citizens)
- All nursing applicants must hold a registered nurse qualification and current registration and licensing with an appropriate governmental or national regulatory body.
- You must also have at least three years' postgraduate clinical experience in emergency medicine, acute care or ICU and recent experience in a clinical setting
- Be fluent in English, both conversational and technical - Mandarin and/or Japanese are also desirable
- Be computer literate and proficient in using Microsoft Windows 7 (or higher) and Microsoft Office programmes
- Have experience using electronic health records (preferable)
- Have exceptional interpersonal, customer services and communication skills
- Commit to completing at least two four-month contracts within twelve months
Why work as a cruise ship nurse?
Working as a cruise ship nurse is an exciting and richly rewarding role that requires you to operate in a small team. You will be required to treat patients with an array of conditions, allowing you to improve your practice as you work.
Expect far more hands-on and intimate interaction with your patients, giving you more experience, autonomy and responsibility than you might get in other healthcare settings.
A once in a lifetime opportunity to visit far-flung destinations such as America, Australia, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, all while performing the job you love.
For more information about daily life and the pros and cons of working on a cruise ship, read our ‘life on a cruise ship’ guide.
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