NURSE TESTIMONIAL RE WORKING IN SAUDI ARABIA

If you are thinking of a career move that not only adds to the pocket, but develops you both professionally and personally, it is well worth seeking the friendly expert advice and assistance from CCM Recruitment. I have worked with CCM twice now for nursing positions in Saudi Arabia in 2007 and again in 2009. I have been here 3 years now and thank CCM for helping me through the process to get where I am today.

Generally, the idea of working in the middle east-Saudi Arabia, the first thing that comes to one’s mind is desert and camels! What sort of nursing could be available for me? Will I be caring for the remote Bedouin desert tribal population? How will I communicate with my patients? What will the cultural expectations be? How will I cope? Where will I live? You will ask question after question, but if you take the plunge and a change in direction with the help of CCM, I can assure you that everything you choose can only bring you positivity, growth and a unique experience that adds to you both professionally and personally.

Of course it is a challenging experience with many ups and downs, but there are various support networks available to help you should you need it. The hospital organisation (i’m at King Faisal Specialist Hospital- Riyadh) is well equipped to prepare you, help you settle in, and understands that it is a huge change for you. The working environment is one that is dynamic and unique with your colleagues and team consisting of multi-nationalities; examples including Canadians, Irish, Americans, Australians, New Zealanders, Indians, Malaysians, Filipono’s, Egyptians, Finnish, Chez, Scottish, English and Saudi nationals only to name a few. Everyone is in the same situation, as an ex-pat society, so the people you meet become close, sometimes like family, and become life long friends. There is incredible support for each other and not to mention, that you get a double cultural learning experience! Not only is it a cultural experience to learn about the Saudi popualtion, but you can also learn and experience a lot with culturally diverse colleagues!

What you choose to embrace will determine what you gain from your experience here. There are many avenues you can take for professional growth and development in the hospital. There are boundless education opportunities, sympsiums, conferences and courses to attend. There are also opportunities for promotions. I began as a staff nurse on an inpatient unit, and also worked in the outpatient clinic. I worked hard and embraced the opportunities the organisation offered and managed to get a promotion in the Nursing and Development and Saudization department as a clinical instructor/research nurse. The only limits you have are the one’s you set for yourself, so be open for the change ands ee what the future has in store for you!

The housing provided is clean, comfortable and close to work, with all facilities available including the pool and teh gym at no cost at all! Getting out and about is always daunting in the beginning, but later you will feel like a princess! Women are not permitted to drive, so there are special taxis called “Hala limousines” that you call to take you out. Riyadh is not just wast barren desert land! It is a big busy city with grand malls and restaurant strips everywhere. Shopping malls can keep you very busy, with access to all the luxury designer stores, European shops and well known coffee outlets. If you are the party goer or social life king or queen, there are unique ways to experience a buzzing social life here in Riyadh (despite what cultural media suggests). As I mentioned earlier,  there is a surmountable number if ex-pats here in the kingdom that are not just nurses alone. You have the ability to meet people from all walks of life doing different things with different interests here in the kingdom. There are sports communities, for example, golfing, rugby, tennis, running, horse riding, triathlon clubs, walking in the desert groups (HHH), 4wd groups and so on.

Nursing in Saudi Arabia and having the chance to be in the kingdom is a life experience that not everyone has the opportunity to be part of. There are special visa requirements first of all to get in and out, as Saudi is not open to the world. Being a nurse allows you to see and experience a culture that is generally closed off to the world. You will care for the Saudi population with a socioeconomic range from a desert Bedouin to a VIP or Royal person (depending on whihc unit or specialty you practice). If you are concerned about communicating, rest assured, the hospital is an English speaking facility and has interpreteres available when required. My favourite experience would have to be the ability to communicate with my patients without speaking a word of English! And that was also without taking any Arabic courses! It’s fun to learn a new word everyday! You will surprise yourself how well you can connect with the Saudi population. Seeing it for yourself and experiencing it allows you to make up your own mind instead of following what the media dicates. As a female, yes, you do have to wear the “abaya” when out in public for example, shopping. It is a light weight material, generally balck with whatever design you like to keep yourslef individualised. Occasionally you may be asked to cover your hair with a scarf. There are five prayer times a day and shops for 20-30 minutes for each prayer, so that just means getting a cup of coffee and resting before you continue to shop some more. Learning and respecting the culture is easier than it sounds. But you will take with you “real” stories to be told when you leave here! No one really understands it when you return!

Furthermore, your experiences from your vacations can also add to the person that you become, as Saudi Arabia is very central geographically to enable you to visit many enticing countries nearby with the generous amount of annual leave you will receive as a nurse in the kingdom. There are beautiful places to see within the kingdom too including weekend trips to Jeddah- especially great for divers (I loved the Red Sea diving), the south province, Abha and attractions to see like Madina Saleh. Regular weekends can be spent at a reasonable price in neighbouring Arabic countries like UAE- Dubai or Bahrain, whihc are about an hours flight away.

Overall, I have to say, it is truly something to be proud of, to embark on an adventure to a place not open to the world and experience a unique culture and working environment taht will only immensely enhance your life skills, knowledge, experience and feelings, adding great attributes to you both as a professional and personally.

Thank you CCM for getting me here!

Julie Prendergast.

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