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Offshore oil rig nursing careers

Updated April 17, 2017

Working on offshore oil rigs is often dangerous, and a qualified medical person must be the first responder to emergencies, accidents or illness. Generally, the oil company requires someone with extensive medical training, such as a nurse, to serve as the rig's medic, coordinate sick bay, handle medical supplies, administer medications and coordinate the efforts of those oil workers trained as first aiders.

Oil Rig Nurse

With oil rigs operating throughout the world and nearly all of them requiring medical personnel, there are jobs available in these competitive nursing positions. For example, a nursing job in the United Arab Emirates requires a person with at least two years experience in an emergency room and demonstrated expertise in emergency medicine, certified in CPR and first aid with excellent English language skills. Understanding and speaking Arabic is also desirable. Oil rigs operating under British governance that may be near Norway or South Africa require different language skills.

Nursing Offshore

As a nurse working on an offshore rig, you should be able to diagnosis and treat a wide-range of medical problems as well as triage patients, provide life-saving procedures and handle any necessary evacuations to onshore hospitals. The range of treatments needed varies from administering medication to controlling bleeding, calibrating drug dosages and applying immobilisation techniques. You will most likely be the only medical person to treat as many as 150 people, although in serious situations, the offshore nurse can contact a doctor via telephone for advice. When working, you'll be responsible for the crew's health as well as maintaining all medical records, the continuing training of those on-board designated as first aiders and ordering all medical supplies and necessary equipment. Beyond the medical requirements, as the oil rig nurse/medic, you will be a member of the senior management team and must handle reporting and management requirements.

Life Offshore

Life on board an oil rig can be either exhilarating or frustrating for a nurse, depending upon your outlook. You can expect to work about six months a year and have about six months off. However, during the six months on the rig, you'll work a 12-hour shift every day. You will have no days off, except possibly half a day at Christmas and/or New Year's. No alcohol is allowed on the rig and the only shopping is as the on-board store that sells toiletries, candy and cigarettes. Some people complain that during the six months off, they are bored and restless. On the plus side, the nurse is usually autonomous, working alone with the doctor onshore and miles away. Cooking, laundry and cleaning are provided for you, and you still receive higher pay than you would receive for a "normal" job.

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About the Author

Douglas Hawk has been freelance writing since 1983. He has had articles appear in numerous Colorado newspapers and in a wide variety of national magazines. Hawk has sold three novels and one short story, which won an award from the Colorado Authors' League. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Adams State College and master's degree in mass communications from the University of Denver.