A Career In Expat Health Education

Lui, who lives in Switzerland, explains how she turned her nursing experience into a portable career and describes the success stories of four other accompanying partners.

Maybe I was prepared for it because I had worked in the medical field in various countries across the globe? Through my expatriate experience I have been able to find out first hand about a range of different approaches to health issues. With the benefit of objectivity I was able to broaden my horizons and understand the difficulties of maintaining a healthy life when living away from home. Preventive medicine had always been an important issue for me. In fact before I left my native Germany I began offering First Aid introductory classes to kindergarten children.

So when moving to Switzerland as a trailing spouse I did not need to look far: arriving into an international community with our own children, it was a small step from the idea to the actual deed and I soon offered classes in First Aid to children and adults. There is always a high demand for information in the health field particularly relating to children. Parents and teaching staff require a sound knowledge of accident prevention and First Aid, for example. So, within two years, I was not only introducing teenagers to basic First Aid techniques and offering classes to adults, but also had the opportunity to talk to the teaching staff of several international schools about important First Aid procedures that could be used in schools and their surroundings.

I have found that it is typical for a career in the health field to begin on a small scale like this, and is often started almost accidentally, when friends start asking for advice and support.

In our home countries we know where to turn if we have a health problem, but when we are living in a country where we have limited knowledge of the local language, we no longer have a family doctor to turn to for important things such as regular check ups. Our knowledge of up-to-date health-related information can be limited.

Of all the careers relating to health, education is probably the most accessible. Thanks to the Internet, gathering information appears to be much simpler and faster but is still a poor substitute for personal information, given face to face from a professional. People also need help with knowing how to access local health care and what the options may be.

As a professional, it is fairly simple to get a career started as an advice service. Before long your reputation will spread thanks to word of mouth and referrals.

Give presentations
If you have a specialism in a popular field, you can find yourself invited to give talks, seminars or workshops. By contacting international women’s clubs, schools or any other networks, health fairs and exhibitions you will soon pick up more bookings. See if local or international television or radio stations would like to interview you too. Do not be too modest about what you have to offer, your skills put you in a position to share important information and in a transient community, you will have a constant turnover of clients. While you may often be expected to speak for free you will find that each presentation will result in referrals.

Write about it
If you are not someone who likes to speak in public, then you could always offer to write articles on your specialism in local magazines. Again, writing may not pay you very much in real money, but it will increase your profile considerably. Even if you have never written an article before, compiling information that is not commonly available and putting it into simple words is on of the easiest way to start your portable career. Remember that magazines have editors, who, providing your content is up to scratch, will be happy to edit your style.

If you publish in school newsletters, an international women’s club magazine or a local free magazine, you may not get paid for your work but you will have the reward of helping many others with the knowledge you are sharing. Instead of payment for your articles you could ask for some publicity for your forthcoming courses.

What to teach
Health information can be offered on a huge range of topics including: nutrition, especially when dealing with allergies or dermatological problems such as eczema; antenatal classes for both pregnant women and their husbands, art and music classes for children with special needs, alternative healing methods ranging from homeopathy, herbal medicine and home remedies, kinesiology, Feng Shui, colour therapy, or dental hygiene.