Travel Nursing Series: Travel Nursing in Greece

Why do people travel? Perhaps ordinary wanderlust forces people to see new places and experience new things or the need to get away from everyday stress or pressure at home or work. Some may want to make a religious pilgrimage to a sacred site or a new career beckons. Whatever the reason, traveling allows you to connect in another country, meet other people and experience different cultures.

One of the easiest careers to “get on the road” is that of the 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 those of nurses in the United States are among the most advanced. Getting certified to work abroad, while a bit tedious, is relatively easy. Usually, a placement agency can assist the US nurse in guiding the process. Salary and benefits are in line with standard travel nursing guidelines. Subsidized housing, signing bonuses, paid vacations and health insurance are offered depending on the specific job. You will need to pack your own nursing uniforms and nursing shoes as these items are not provided by the employer.

There is a high demand for nurses in Greece. To find and apply for a nurse position in Greece, it is best to hire a professional agency to help you with the procedure. Nursing travel agencies assist nurses in finding the ideal job in Greece. International applications can be overwhelming due to the amount of paperwork involved, but a good agency will help you with the necessary visas and certifications. The employment agencies are the intermediary between employer and nurse and negotiate a contract that is beneficial to both parties. They will provide job details such as work hours, overtime arrangements, and nursing uniform requirements. Many international hospitals have adopted the American trend of wearing dress uniforms instead of traditional nursing uniforms. Shopping for medical uniforms in Greece can be difficult, but there are online websites that offer great selections of uniform scrubs at low prices for your uniform needs.

The Greek National Health System provides a basic medical service to Greek nationals and has a reciprocal agreement with the UK National Health Service. There are many public and private hospitals in Greece, all with different standards. Some private hospitals have ties to US facilities. These hospitals are an excellent resource for US nurses looking for a job abroad in Greece. The staff physicians of these private hospitals are trained in the US or another international educational institution. Very little English is often spoken in public medical clinics, especially on the Greek islands. Many visitors to Greece, and Greek citizens, are moving from care units on the island to Athens hospitals for more modern and professional care.

Medical facilities in Greece range from barely adequate to very good. Public hospitals are severely understaffed, especially on night shifts in non-emergency departments. Nursing jobs in these settings are very demanding work. Nursing and aftercare standards, particularly in the public health sector, fall short of what is normally acceptable in the US. To ensure adequate care, those patients who can afford it hire private nurses to care for them during their hospital stay. For those with good insurance coverage, private hospitals are available with modern facilities and excellent care. Travel nurses generally get jobs in a private hospital or as a private nurse in the public hospital. Knowledge of Greek is of course useful. Doctors and facilities are generally good on the mainland but can be limited on the islands. It is possible to get by with English, but it will take time to translate patients. Very little English is often spoken in public medical clinics, especially on the Greek islands.

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Life in the Greek islands is very different from that in the United States. Greeks today enjoy life on completely flexible schedules. The relaxed attitude of the Greeks to time is similar to that of Brazilians, who rarely do today what can be put off until tomorrow. It takes some effort for the travel nurse to reduce expectations based on time. The Greek word “filoxenia” means “love of strangers”, so the travel nurse is welcomed to Greek life with great exuberance. There are many religious festivals and family celebrations.

In Greece, the day starts early, before the heat of the day sets in. The afternoon siesta lasts from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm. Many workers return to work after the siesta to work until 8 p.m. Dinner rarely starts before 10 p.m. and often lasts well past midnight. Travel nurses will have to adjust their internal meal clocks in order to participate in social life in Greece.

Strikes and demonstrations are a regular occurrence in Greece and are disruptive, especially on your way to work. These events are normally orderly, but tear gas will be used for riot control if necessary. Local news sources keep the local population informed about news of demonstrations. Purses and pickpockets operate in tourist locations and on busy public transport, as in any public area.

Free time should be spent visiting the many wonders of Greek civilization. Public ferries run between islands, making access to ancient sites easy and affordable. There are plenty of good Greek travel guides available to detail the many sites you can visit.

Traveling by car in Greece can be an adventure in itself. Temporary Greek residents must carry their valid driver’s license from their country of origin and an International Driving Permit (IDP). Drivers who do not carry an IDP can be penalized if they do not have one in an accident, as well as subject to civil prosecution. Heavy traffic and poor highways are a hazard, especially at night or in bad weather. Many roads are generally poorly maintained and often full of potholes.

Greece has a list of “must see” sites that is second to none. 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 peak. A visit to Olympia, site of the original Olympic Games and the ruins of Epidaurus, where the ancient theater is still used for festivals, are must sees for tourists. A popular destination in Crete for tourists is the Minoan palace at Knossos and the opportunity to experience Macedonian culture and view the tomb of Phillip II of Macedon attracts people to explore Vergina. The opportunities to discover ancient Greek culture are endless and a stay in Greece as a travel nurse will provide ample time to get to know this beautiful country and its friendly people.

One of the first things you notice when you travel through Greece is the large amount of litter that is scattered almost everywhere. Hills are overrun with discarded appliances, cans. bottles, boxes, rope and other rubbish, leaving the traveler wondering why the breathtaking scenery is not more appreciated by the locals. Beaches and the sea are not exempt. Plastic bags, bottles and cans regularly float by.

Half-finished buildings collide with Greek ruins scattered across the landscape and streets. Concrete is the building material of choice and it is everywhere. Unfortunately, Greek concrete work is not of good quality and often results in unsightly mess. Greek construction is often done on an irregular schedule, dragging on for several years. Homes are often half-off for months or even years at a time. Another famous place in Greece is the chain link. It is thrown around anything and everything. Many fencing fall into the broken, bent, or corroded category, which leaves you wondering if the fences serve any purpose.

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Despite the ugly aspects of Greek litter and construction, most people would agree that Greece has more wonders than warts, and traveling between the islands is the adventure of a lifetime. So grab your uniform, nursing boots, stethoscope and travel gear and set out for the beauty of the Greek Islands.