Blog

Search
Close this search box.

Operating theatre nurses volunteer in a vital role on board our hospital ships

Are you ready for a reset? Do you want to reconnect with why you trained to be a nurse in the first place?

On board each hospital ship, hundreds of medical volunteers staff the operating theatres, wards and the auxiliary services that provide a complete surgical package – from admission to rehabilitation – for people living in extreme poverty in sub-Saharan Africa.

We’ve got a Big Ask – but say yes and your courage and compassion will change lives and bring essential surgery to West Africa. We need volunteers willing to spend two months or more on board caring for our crew and patients.  Can you come with us?

The nursing experience of a lifetime awaits the brave and compassionate who have a heart for adventure. 

It's the kind of operating theatre nursing you've always dreamed of!

Patient Awa and volunteers' nurse

Maybe you have long service leave due and you can volunteer for a few months, or perhaps you want to use your holiday time for good. Join the 600+ nurses every year from all over the world who are making a life-transforming difference by using their nursing skills to help serve the marginalised, with Mercy Ships.

If you have two years’ nursing experience and have the heart to help the vulnerable, then volunteering on board the world’s largest civilian hospital ships may be the next fabulous career move you make. See the range of nursing opportunities and the job descriptions here.

The hospital ships’ operating theatres, wards and ICU are state-of-the-art, and the equipment and medications are familiar for those working in a New Zealand or OECD health care context.

Nursing role details

Known as an operating room nurse on board, the role takes care of surgical patients coming from the ward to the operating room, going through the intraoperative phase of their hospital stay. The operating room nurse will be expected to circulate, scrub, assist the surgeon when necessary, and maintain accurate written operating room documentation.

You will participate in preparing the operating room, setting-up for surgeries, and cleaning postoperatively.

Minimum volunteer period: 2 weeks

Requirements: Currently active licence and practising. Recent operating room experience of at least two years full time (or three years part-time) within the past five years.  At the point of application can show working in a theatre setting within the past 12 months.

Theatre nursing opportunities on board

mercy-ships-volunteer-opportunities-department-operating-room-icon

Preferred Minimum Commitment: 2 Years

mercy-ships-volunteer-opportunities-department-operating-room-icon
Operating Theatre Nurse

Preferred Minimum Commitment: 2 wks

mercy-ships-volunteer-opportunities-department-operating-room-icon
Operating Theater Clinical Supervisor - Alumni only

Preferred Minimum Commitment: 2 years

mercy-ships-volunteer-opportunities-department-operating-room-icon
Operating Theatre Educator

Preferred Minimum Commitment: 2 yrs

mercy-ships-volunteer-opportunities-department-operating-room-icon
Theatre Nurse- General Team Leader

Preferred Minimum Commitment: 2 yrs

mercy-ships-volunteer-opportunities-department-operating-room-icon
Theatre Nurse - Maxillofacial Team Leader

Preferred Minimum Commitment: 10 Months

mercy-ships-volunteer-opportunities-department-operating-room-icon
Theatre Nurse- Ophthalmic Team Leader

Preferred Minimum Commitment: 2 yrs

mercy-ships-volunteer-opportunities-department-operating-room-icon
Theatre Nurse- Orthpaedic Team Leader

Preferred Minimum Commitment: 2 Years

mercy-ships-volunteer-opportunities-department-operating-room-icon
Theatre Nurse - Paediatric Team Leader

Preferred Minimum Commitment: 2 Years

mercy-ships-volunteer-opportunities-department-operating-room-icon
Theatre Nurse - Plastic Reconstructive Team Leader

Preferred Minimum Commitment: 2 Years

mercy-ships-volunteer-opportunities-department-operating-room-icon
Theatre Nurse - Women's Health Team Leader

Preferred Minimum Commitment: 2 Years

mercy-ships-volunteer-opportunities-department-hospital-icon
ALL Nurse roles

Preferred Minimum Commitment: 8 Weeks to 2 Years

FAQ

On the Africa Mercy there are 5 operating theatres supported by 82 ward and ICU beds. On the Global Mercy there are 6 operating theatres supported by 208 ward and ICU beds.

Each hospital ship is self-sufficient, and all the required allied health care services are provided on board eg laboratory, radiology, physiotherapy.

About half of the Africa Mercy‘s 460 crew and the Global Mercy‘s  640 crew fill medical roles.

The hospital ships’ operating theatres, wards and ICU are state-of-the-art, and the equipment and medications will be familiar to those working in a New Zealand or OECD health care context

Mercy Ships provides many types of surgeries:

  • General (Adults)
  • General (Paediatric)
  • Ophthalmic
  • Oral Maxillofacial & ENT Head & Neck
  • Orthopaedics (Paediatric)
  • Plastics
  • Urogynecologic

Students often ask to join Mercy Ships as an elective session or to get exposure/experience in a developing country, however, we regrettably are unable to accommodate these requests. The majority of the positions in the hospital require a current licence and we do not have personnel or bed space onboard currently to facilitate these opportunities.

No, all scrubs and equipment are provided by the ship.
  • All volunteers must be over 18 to join, must be in good health with a BMI <35, and be aware of both the physical demands of living on board and in Africa, as well as any physical demands of the role for which they want to join. For example, our volunteers may be required to sleep in a bunk-bed, sharing a cabin with other volunteers of the same gender.
  • The ship has multiple decks, and crew members could climb about 30 flights of stairs per day.
  • A married person can serve up to three months without their spouse. 

ABOUT MERCY SHIPS

Mercy Ships is an international humanitarian organisation based on Christian values. Our mission is to improve access to health care in low-income nations. 

By deploying the world’s two largest non-governmental hospital ships, the Africa Mercy and the Global Mercy, Mercy Ships works with host countries to help them improve their health care systems.

Each year, more than 1,200 volunteers from over 60 nations donate their time and resources to support the Mercy Ships vision.

Mercy Ships’ surgical specialties include maxillofacialplastic reconstructiveorthopaedic, ophthalmic, general, and gynecological (obstetric fistula) surgery.

Simultaneously, we provide training and mentoring to upskill local health professionals, strengthening the host nation’s health care capacity. 

I love talking to people about finding their fit on board, and I’m here to answer your questions about volunteering.

SHARE