If you're pursuing a healthcare administration degree and wondering about the potential for working with an international aid organization, then you might be surprised to learn that relief organizations accept a wide variety of applicants with differing levels of experience and educational background. Due to the nature of international aid, there is no clear-cut path to getting involved, but there are several prerequisites for obtaining a position with such an organization. Earning a degree, particularly one at the graduate level, and gaining significant volunteer experience are crucial for gaining access to a relief organization's assignments.
Like most careers in the medical field, the demand for administrators in healthcare is rising due to an aging population and the growing demand for better, more efficiently run hospitals and medical centers. Healthcare administrators oversee key aspects of management, which puts them on the right track for working with an international aid organization. In addition to training in administrative aspects such as privacy rights, hospital standards and policy issues, healthcare administrators receive instruction on long-term care management, finance and economics, ethics, and critical issues facing healthcare today. These subjects will come in handy for managing the aftermath of a crisis or in developing programs for sustainability in underdeveloped countries.
Qualifications of an Aid Worker
There is no set path for becoming a relief worker, but you do need a master's and experience in order to secure assignments with many of the major organizations. According to The Borgen Project Blog, "sociology, social policy, human rights, languages, economics, sanitation and logistics" are all relevant and vital subjects to take during college. In addition, high-demand majors include "medicine, nursing, healthcare and water engineering."
Keep in mind that not every relief worker spends the bulk of their time in the field. Some people play important roles on the administrative side, coordinating relief efforts and streamlining the process for field workers. There are a variety of positions available for people with different skill sets, but all aid workers need significant educational and volunteer experience to be considered for assignments. If you can't find an international organization to take you on as a volunteer, then check out local opportunities to gain experience. Make sure you choose an organization that specializes in the type of relief efforts you want to pursue.
Humanitarian workers aren't trying to earn special praise or win popularity contests, but people who work in difficult situations do need to have certain personality traits that make them likable and relatable to the communities in which they serve. You'll need to be passionate about what you do, compassionate with others, patient and hardworking. Most aid workers work significantly longer shifts than the standard 40-hour work week schedule, and you'll need to be able to cope with the challenges of living and working in unfamiliar environments amid potentially dangerous conditions.
Relief organizations offer various services to people in or on the verge of crisis, which makes them an appealing option for someone who truly cares about humanitarian efforts around the world. These organizations also provide rewarding experiences for their workers, but the work itself can be extremely challenging. Once you've earned a healthcare administration degree, you can explore opportunities with international aid organizations seeking people with your skill set, volunteer experience and personal interests.