Top 3 Jobs for Healthcare Professionals OCONUS
Healthcare degrees tend to be inherently portable. An aging population and shortage of healthcare professionals across the country results in a high demand for this field.
Within the US, challenges related to license transfer from state to state can delay portability. The employment landscape – requirements for different employers, local salary rates, and local levels of healthcare worker shortages – can vary significantly from region to region.
Barriers to Employment OCONUS
The list of barriers faced by spouses with healthcare degrees becomes daunting in the OCONUS setting. Requirements to secure or renew a professional license are often vague or nonexistent for spouses moving out of the country.
Working on a Foreign Economy
This is one of the most obvious barriers for military spouses seeking employment OCONUS. It sounds adventurous, an opportunity to learn about healthcare in another country. The following factors must be considered.
- Status of Forces Agreements (SOFA) – These agreements between the US and the host nation define what rights and privileges military families have while living in a foreign country. Depending on the specific agreement, working in the host nation may require multiple extra steps – if it is allowed at all.
- Language Barriers – Although some spouses have a second language before moving OCONUS and the rare opportunity to work without speaking a second language may exist – proficiency in a foreign language is typically necessary. Achieving the level of B1 according to the Common European Framework is a common requirement – and that takes time!
- Differences in Healthcare Structure – While the US generally functions as a third-party payor healthcare system, many OCONUS destinations have something closer to universal healthcare. Although they often carry the same name, healthcare roles can look very different from country to country.
For those seeking to learn a new language – utilize the free MWR library resources or military and student discounts for Rosetta Stone.
The USAJobs Abyss
Considering the uphill battle for working on a foreign economy, more traditional employment may be available through a US military installation. USAJobs is likely the most common avenue for employment – though opportunities through contracting companies may also be available.
USAJobs is the Federal Government’s official employment site. Frustration is a common reaction to navigating the application and hiring process using this system. Some reasons why include:
- Unusual Resume Expectations – While most resumes are 1-2 pages long and succinctly hit the highlights, a USA Jobs resume is far more detail oriented and longer.
- Complex Automated Systems – Many agencies rely on an automated system to identify key words and select the best candidates. Without fully understanding how this system selects candidates, creating a resume that the system will pull is difficult.
- Eligibility is Independent of Qualification – What? While a person may be qualified – or even overqualified – they must fall into a hiring path to be considered eligible.
- Competitive Nature OCONUS – What do you get when 50 unemployed healthcare professionals apply for one of five annual job vacancies? Competition. Though poorly documented, the unemployment rates among military spouses in OCONUS communities is arguably higher than within the US. This is true for vacancies through USAJobs and contracting companies.
Fortunately, USAJobs offers recurring, free, virtual webinars to help applicants tackle writing a federal resume and navigating USAJobs. Deeper understanding of the USAJobs system increases the likelihood that a resume will actually make it into the hands of a hiring manager.
Protected Healthcare Data
Just because a job is advertised as remote or called telehealth/telemedicine does not mean that the person filling that role can work from anywhere. Data security and HIPPA laws often restrict eligible applicants to a specific region within the US. Many telehealth/telemedicine jobs require employees to report to a call center. Jobs may also be advertised as remote, but still require the employee to report to work a percentage of the time.
Barriers to Completing a Healthcare Degree
Many healthcare professionals choose to continue their education through online programs. College is expensive and paying for it while you face unemployment is not ideal. Obtaining a healthcare degree often requires clinical hours – hands-on practice that supports learning. While it isn’t impossible to complete clinicals while living OCONUS, it does depend on finding a facility that supports students, an agreement between the facility and your school, and identifying a qualified preceptor.
To explore this further, contact the education department at a local military treatment facility. A good network can also help identify and navigate local options.
RELATED: Search colleges with Healthcare degrees at CollegeRecon
Top 3 Jobs for Healthcare Professionals OCONUS
For spouses anticipating a move to or already living in an OCONUS location, hurdling this list of barriers can be intimidating – and scary for families that rely on two incomes. Fortunately, there are some options to continue a career in healthcare.
Content or Subject Matter Expert
Companies like Freedom Learning Group are dedicated to providing career opportunities for underemployed military spouses. They do this by harnessing the expertise of military spouses across the globe to develop educational content like developing test questions and writing content for textbooks. Jobs through Freedom Learning Group company are 100% remote and can be filled by anyone living anywhere in the world.
Health writing affords an opportunity to work remotely from anywhere. Similar to content or subject matter experts, health writers create health-related content. Health writing is often done on a freelance basis. The Savvy Scribe is one platform to learn more about launching a career as a health writer – learn more by listening to the podcast.
An ongoing shift to distance education may provide opportunities for spouses with healthcare degrees to work remotely as course instructors. Start by searching fully online institutions like American Public University System or Wester Governor’s University. Then dig for leads teaching subjects like Medical Terminology or Anatomy and Physiology.
- Online Colleges for Those With Military and Veteran Education Benefits
- Search Online Schools in the CollegeRecon School Finder
These options require more effort than a traditional job search, but can provide supplemental income. Remember to keep in mind the differences in time zones. Networking will be extremely beneficial when searching for virtual and remote jobs available to OCONUS spouses.
Spouses experiencing an OCONUS employment landscape need to be kind to themselves. Continuing a healthcare career in this setting may feel like a giant ripple or a screeching halt. Chances are this experience is temporary. This transition may be an opportunity to explore something new or think outside the box. The US Healthcare system will need you when you return!
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About the author
Chelsea Bostelman is a registered nurse who stays busy with freelance writing, exploring Europe, and working on a graduate degree in nursing. She founded the Stuttgart Nurse Journal Club to provide underemployed nurses with free continuing education opportunities. A 10-year military spouse, she and her family spend their free time hiking, biking, and eating in southern Germany.