Why do people travel? Perhaps plain wanderlust urges people see new places and have new experiences or the need to get away from everyday stress or pressures at home or work. Some may want to make a religious pilgrimage to a sacred site or a new career may beckon. Whatever the reason, travel 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 that of the health care professional. Physicians and nurses are in demand in every country in the world and it is easy to find work overseas. Nursing skills are universal and those of nurses in the United States are among the most advanced. Getting certified to work overseas in a foreign country, although a bit tedious, is relatively easy. Usually a placement agency can help guide the US nurse through 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 particular job. You will need to pack your own nursing uniforms and nursing shoes as these items are not provided by the employer.
Nurses in Greece are in significant demand. To find and apply for a position as a nurse in Greece it is best to use a professional agency to help with the procedure. Travel nurse agencies help guide nurses to find the ideal job in Greece. International employment applications can be overwhelming with the amount of paperwork required but a good agency will help with the necessary visas and certifications. The agencies are the intermediary between employer and nurse, negotiating a contract that is beneficial to both parties. They will provide job particulars such as work hours, overtime regulations and nursing uniform requirements. Many international hospitals have adopted the US trend of wearing uniform scrubs instead of traditional nursing uniforms. Shopping for medical uniforms in Greece may be difficult, but online websites offering large selections of uniforms scrubs at discount prices are available for your uniform needs.
The Greek National Health system provides a basic medical service to Greek nationals and it has a reciprocal agreement with the British National Health Service. There are many public and private hospitals in Greece, all with varying standards. Some private hospitals have affiliations with U.S. facilities. These hospitals are an excellent resource for American nurses looking for positions abroad in Greece. The staff doctors at these private hospitals have been trained in U.S. or another international teaching institution. In public medical clinics, especially on Greek islands, often very little English is spoken. Many visitors to Greece, and Greek citizens, transfer 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. Public hospitals are severely understaffed, especially during the night shift on non-emergency wards. Nursing jobs in these facilities is very demanding work. The standards of nursing and after care, particularly in the public health sector lag behind what is normally acceptable in the US. In order to insure adequate care, those patients who can afford it hire private nurses to tend to them during their hospital stay. For those with good insurance coverage, private hospitals are available with modern facilities and excellent care. Travel nurses generally procure jobs either in a private hospital or as a private nurse in the public hospital. Knowledge of Greek is, of course, helpful. 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 it will take time to translate patients. In public medical clinics, especially on Greek islands, often very little English is spoken.
Life in the Greek Islands is quite different from that in the United States. Greeks enjoy life today on entirely flexible schedules. The relaxed attitude of the Greeks to time is similar to that of Brazilians, rarely doing today what can be put off until tomorrow. It takes a little effort on the part of the travel nurse to reduce expectations based on time. The Greek word “filoxenia” means “love of strangers”, thus the travel nurse will find themselves welcomed into Greek life with great exuberance. There are many religious festivals and family celebrations.
The day starts early in Greece, before the heat of the day sets in. Afternoon siestas last from 2pm to 5 pm. Many workers return to their jobs after the siesta to work until 8 pm. The dinner hour rarely starts before 10:00 pm and often lasts well beyond midnight. Travel nurses will need to adjust their internal meal clock in order to join the social scene in Greece.
Strikes and demonstrations occur regularly in Greece and be disruptive, especially if you are on your way to work. These occurrences are normally orderly, but if necessary tear gas will be used for riot control. Local news sources keep locals abreast of news of demonstrations. Purse snatchers and pick pockets operate at tourist locations and on crowded public transportation, as in any public area.
Time off from work should be spent visiting the many wonders of Greek civilization. Public ferries run between islands, making access to antiquity sites easy and affordable. There are numerous good Greek travel guides available to detail the numerous sites to visit.
Travel 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 as well as an international driver’s permit (IDP). Drivers not carrying an IDP can be penalized for failure to have one in the event of an accident, and may further be open to a civil suit as well. Heavy traffic and poor highways pose hazards, especially at night or in inclement weather. Many roads are typically poorly maintained and frequently pothole-ridden.
Greece has a list of “must see” sites that is unparalleled. First and foremost is the Acropolis in Athens. Situated on rocky ground high above the city streets, the Acropolis represents classic Greek culture at its zenith. A visit to 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 view the tomb of Phillip II of Macedon draws people to explore Vergina. The opportunities to explore ancient Greek culture are limitless and a stay in Greece as a travel nurse will yield ample time to get to know this wonderful country and its friendly people.
One of the first things you will notice as you take out on your travels of Greece is the wide array of litter strewn virtually everywhere. Hillsides are awash with discarded appliances, cans. bottles, boxes, rope and other litter, leaving the traveler to wonder why the breathtaking scenery is not more appreciated by the locals. Beaches and the sea are not exempt. Plastic bags, bottles and cans float by on a regular basis.
Half-finished buildings join Greek ruins, dotting the landscapes and streets. Concrete is the building material of choice and it is everywhere. Unfortunately, Greek concrete workmanship is not of good quality and often results in unsightly messes. Greek construction is often done on an intermittent schedule, dragging out for several years. Houses are often left half-finished for months, or even years at a time. Another familiar site in Greece is the chain link fence. It is thrown up around anything and everything. Much fencing falls into the broken, bent or rusted category making one wonder if the fences serve any purpose.
Despite the unsightly aspects of Greek litter and construction, most people will agree that Greece has more wonders than warts, and travel among the islands is the adventure of a lifetime. So grab your uniform scrubs, nursing shoes, stethoscope and travel gear and head off to the beauty of the Greek islands.