Travel Nursing Series: Travel Nursing in Greece
Why do people travel? Simple wanderlust may prompt people to see new places and have new experiences, or the need to get away from everyday stresses or pressures at home or work. Some may wish to make a religious pilgrimage to a sacred site or may be tempted by a new profession. Whatever the reason, traveling allows you to make a connection in another country, meet different people and experience different cultures.
One of the easiest careers to “take on the road” is as a healthcare professional. Doctors and nurses are in demand in every country in the world and it is easy to find work abroad. Nursing skills are universal and the skills of nurses in the United States are among the most advanced. Getting certified to work abroad in a foreign country is relatively easy, though a bit tedious. Usually the staffing agency can help guide the American nurse through this process. Salary and benefits are in line with standard travel nursing guidelines. Subsidized housing, signing bonuses, paid vacation, and health insurance are offered, depending on the particular job. You will need to pack your own nursing uniform and nursing shoes as these items are not provided by your employer.
There is a huge demand for nurses in Greece. To find and apply for a job as a nurse in Greece, it is best to hire a professional agency to help with the procedure. Travel nurse agencies help guide nurses to find the perfect job in Greece. International job applications may be overwhelmed with the amount of paperwork required but a good agency will assist in obtaining the necessary visas and certifications. Agencies are the go-between between the employer and the nurse, negotiating a contract that is beneficial to both parties. They will provide job details such as hours, overtime regulations, and nursing uniform requirements. Many international hospitals have adopted the American trend of wearing scrubs instead of the traditional nursing uniform. Shopping for medical scrubs in Greece can be challenging, but online websites are available that offer a large selection of scrub clothes at discount prices for your uniform needs.
The Greek National Health System provides essential medical service to Greek citizens and has a reciprocal agreement with the British National Health Service. There are many public and private hospitals in Greece, all with different standards. Some private hospitals have affiliations with US facilities. These hospitals are an excellent resource for American nurses looking for jobs abroad in Greece. The physicians working in these private hospitals were trained in the United States or at another international educational institution. In general medical clinics, especially on the Greek islands, very little English is often spoken. Many visitors to Greece and Greek citizens move from island care units to hospitals in Athens Hospitals for more modern and professional care.
Medical facilities in Greece range from barely adequate to very good. General hospitals are severely understaffed, particularly during the night shift in non-emergency wards. Nursing jobs in these facilities are very difficult work. Nursing and aftercare standards, particularly in the public health sector, lag behind what is commonly accepted in the United States. In order to ensure proper care, those patients who can afford it hire private nurses to take care of them during their hospital stay. For those with good insurance coverage, private hospitals are available with modern facilities and excellent care. Travel nurses generally purchase positions either in a private hospital or as a private nurse in a public hospital. Knowledge of the Greek language is of course useful. Doctors and facilities are generally good on the mainland, but may be limited on the islands. It is possible to get by with English, but translating patients will take time. In general medical clinics, especially on the Greek islands, very little English is often spoken.
Life on the Greek islands is very different from that in the United States. Greeks enjoy life today on a completely flexible schedule. The relaxed attitude of the Greeks to time is similar to that of the Brazilians, and today they rarely do what can be postponed until tomorrow. It takes a little bit of effort on the part of the traveling nurse to lower expectations based on time. The Greek word “filoxenia” means “love of strangers,” and so the traveling nurse will find herself welcomed into Greek life in great abundance. There are many religious holidays and family celebrations.
The day starts early in Greece, before the heat of the day sets in. The afternoon nap lasts from 2 pm to 5 pm. Many workers return to their jobs after their siesta to work until 8 p.m. The dinner hour rarely begins before 10:00 pm and often continues after midnight. Travel nurses will need to set their own internal meal clock to join the social scene in Greece.
Strikes and demonstrations happen regularly in Greece and are noisy, especially if you’re on your way to work. These incidents are usually organized, but if necessary, tear gas will be used for riot control. Local news sources keep local residents informed of the demonstrations. Bag snatchers and pick-pockets operate at tourist spots and on crowded public transportation, as they do in any public area.
A vacation from work should be taken to visit the many wonders of Greek civilization. Public ferries run between the islands, making getting to archaeological sites easy and affordable. There are many good Greek travel guides available detailing the many sites to visit.
Traveling by car in Greece can be an adventure in itself. Greek temporary residents must hold a valid driving license from their country of origin as well as an International Driving Permit (IDP). Drivers who do not carry an IDP can be penalized for failing to obtain one in the event of an accident, and may also be subject to civil action. Heavy traffic and bad highways present dangers, especially at night or in inclement weather. Many of the roads are usually poorly maintained and often potholes.
Greece has a list of “must see” sites that are unparalleled. First and foremost is the Acropolis in Athens. Perched on rocky ground high above the city streets, the Acropolis represents classical Greek culture at its height. Visiting Olympia, the site of the original Olympic Games and the ruins at Epidaurus, where the ancient theater is still in use for festivals, are must see sites for tourists. A popular destination in Crete for tourists is the Minoan Palace at Knossos and the opportunity to experience Macedonian culture and see the tomb of Philip II of Macedon, which attracts people to explore Vergina. The opportunities to explore ancient Greek culture are limitless, and a stay in Greece as a traveling nurse will give you plenty of time to get to know this wonderful country and its friendly people.
One of the first things that you will notice while going about your travels in Greece is the wide array of rubbish strewn almost everywhere. The hills are full of discarded appliances and cans. Bottles, boxes, ropes and other rubbish, which makes the traveler wonder why the locals do not appreciate the picturesque scenery. Beaches and the sea are not exempt. Plastic bags, bottles, and cans float by on a regular basis.
Semi-finished buildings join Greek ruins, dotting landscapes and streets. Concrete is the preferred building material and it is everywhere. Unfortunately, the concrete Greek workmanship is not of good quality and often results in an unsightly mess. Greek construction often took place on a staggered schedule, taking several years. Homes are often left unfinished for months or even years at a time. Another familiar site in Greece is the chain link fence. It gets thrown around about anything and everything. So much fencing falls into the broken, bent, or rusty category that it makes one wonder if fences serve any purpose.
Despite the unsightly aspects of Greek rubbish and construction, most people would agree that Greece has more wonders than warts, and that traveling between the islands is the adventure of a lifetime. So grab your uniform, nursing shoes, stethoscope and travel gear and head out to the beauty of the Greek Islands.