9 NGO Nursing Jobs (And What You Need To Apply)

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Many people who are qualified nurses are interested in working for NGOs. Taking a job with an NGO allows them to use their medical training to help people affected by conflicts, disasters or crises, or those living in poverty around the world. There are a wide range of jobs across the NGO sector open to nurses. Here we break down some of the most commonly recruited NGO nursing roles…

Medical Coordinator

A first NGO job that is often taken by nurses is the role of Medical Coordinator. Within an NGO, the Medical Coordinator is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the organisation’s health projects. They also have budget responsibility, and feed into grant management and proposal development.

The job of Medical Coordinator is one of the most senior positions nurses take within the NGO sector. The Med Co reports either to the Head of Programmes or Country Director. They also line-manage the health team, often including a deputy Medical Coordinator, and Health Project Officers stationed at field bases. The Med Co is usually stationed at the NGO’s country office.

How to Apply

Many qualified nurses rise to become Medical Coordinators in the NGO sector. To get the job of a Med Co you not only need to be medically qualified, but also have significant experience overseeing NGO health projects.

Health Programme Manager

A second job that nurses can take in many NGOs is the role of Health Programme Manager. This position is similar to that of the Medical Coordinator. However, the job of the Health Programme Manager focuses more heavily on project implementation, and less on programme design and grant management.

The Health Programme Manager may report to the Med Co, or to the Head of Programmes. They will line-manage a team of medical staff that focus on the day-to-day running of the NGOs health projects. Most Health Programme Managers divide their time between field bases and the NGO’s Country Offices.

How to Apply

Being a qualified nurse is great step towards becoming a Health Programme Manager with an NGO. You will need to be medical trained in order to the get the job of Health Programme Manager. As a senior position within the NGO sector, you will also need some years’ experience managing NGO projects.

MHPSS Officer

A third job in many NGOs that is taken by nurses is that of MHPSS Officer. In the NGO sector, MHPSS stands for mental health and psycho-social support. In recent years NGOs have increasingly begun focusing on mental health as part of their wider medical projects. Nurses with specialisms in mental health can enter the NGO sector in range of MHPSS roles.

The job of the MHPSS Officer is to oversee the day-to-day running of an NGOs mental health programmes. They will line manager a team of psychologists and case workers, and either report to the Health Programme Manager, or Field Coordinator. The MHPSS Officer is usually stationed at field level.

How to Apply

If you are qualified as a mental health nurse, consider applying for MHPSS Officer positions with NGOs. Some knowledge of project management would be beneficial, as well as some experience working in the NGO sector. However, formal qualifications related to mental health are often the most sought by NGOs recruiting MHPSS Officer positions.

Community Health Worker

Another NGO job that nurses can take is that of Community Health Worker. NGOs recruit Community Health Workers as a link between their projects and the communities they’re serving. The job of the Community Health Worker is to understand the health needs of the community, promote the NGO’s work, and raise awareness of key health issues.

NGOs frequently recruit nurses to work in Community Health Worker roles. Community Health Workers often report to the Health Project Officer. Some NGOs support Community Health Workers that are employed by local government clinics by providing incentive payments and trainings.

How to Apply

As well as being medical trained, often as a nurse, the most important requirement to become a Community Health Worker for an NGO is to be a member of the community they are serving. Having a strong understanding of the community’s health needs is vital for succeeding in the role.

NGO Nursing Online Courses

If you are interested in working as an NGO nurse, Emory University offers an online course on Health in Complex Humanitarian Emergencies. We think it’s the best short course providing an overview of the key concepts of humanitarian health. Follow the link to the course’s page.

We also highly recommend the University of Copenhagen’s online short course in Non-Communicable Diseases in Humanitarian Settings. Only taking around 15 hours to complete, we think it’s a great addition to the CV of anyone applying for NGO nursing roles. Click the link to find out more.

Another great online course for those looking to become an NGO nurse is the Manchester University course Global Health and Humanitarianism. It takes a wider approach and looks at how humanitarian aid can address public health issues. The link is to the course’s page.

SRH Advisor

In the NGO sector, SRH stands of sexual and reproductive health. Many NGOs run projects that help families, and especially women, to improve their reproductive health and family planning. The role of the SRH Advisor within an NGO is to provide technical guidance to an NGO’s SRH programme.

The SRH Advisor will often be based at country office level and travel regularly to field sites to provide guidance. As well as advising on the NGOs SRH projects, the SRH Advisor also supports proposal development, reporting and project design.

How to Apply

If you are a nurse with a background in sexual and reproductive health, consider applying for SRH jobs with an NGO. The role of SRH Advisor is a senior position, so alongside being a qualified nurse, you will also likely need several years’ experience working in NGO SRH programmes or wider health projects.

Nutrition Advisor

Many NGOs run nutrition projects helping malnourished children, or families facing food insecurity. Nurses with a specialism in nutrition are often hired to work on these projects. The job of the Nutrition Advisor is to provide technical guidance to an NGOs nutrition programme.

The Nutrition Advisor is usually based at country office level, but can be station at the NGO’s HQ or regional office. They liaise directly with programmes teams on how nutrition projects should be ran. They also feed into project designs, planning and funding proposals.

How to Apply

You will need be a qualified nutritionist, or a nurse with a nutrition background, in order to become a Nutrition Advisor for an NGO. As a senior advisory role, you will also need some years’ experience working on NGO nutrition projects.

Health Project Officer

One role that NGOs regularly recruit nurses for is the position of Health Project Officer. The job of the Health Project Officer is to be stationed as field level and to oversee the effective implementation of an NGO’s health projects. They usually report to the Health Programme Manager, or Field Coordinator.

In the NGO sector, Health Project Officers divide their time between working in the health facilities, often providing trainings to medical teams, and working in the office supporting programme development and planning.

How to Apply

NGOs recruiting Health Project Officers will look for candidates that are medically trained. This includes as a nurse. Some experience in project management, ideally in the NGO sector, would also be beneficial.

Medical Nurse

It’s important to remember that many NGOs recruit medical nurses directly work on their projects. Essentially, the tasks of a medical nurse in the NGO sector are not much different from that of a medical nurse working in other sectors. Medical nurses working on NGO projects will work as part of a medical team providing healthcare to people in need.

One main difference between medical nurses working for NGOs and medical nurses working in the wider health sector is the environments they will work in. NGOs usually hire nurses to deploy into disaster zones, or to work in refugee camps. Providing medical aid in these settings can be highly challenging.

How to Apply

The most important qualification needed to work as a medical nurse with an NGO is to have completed your nursing training. However, having some experience of the kind of work NGOs do, and the contexts in which they work, will improve your chances of getting a deployed as a medical nurse with an NGO.

Case Worker

A final job that NGOs often recruit nurses for is the position of Case Worker. The job of an NGO Case Worker is to directly work with people who have complex medical or other needs. They take on a number of cases that they follow-up with regularly. They also refer cases to other organisations for assistance.

Case Workers can be directly employed by an NGO, or can be hired by a medical facility and the NGO provides incentive payments and trainings. NGO Case Workers are usually line-managed by the Health Project Officer.

How to Apply

Qualified nurses are often hired by NGO to in the position of Case Workers. Having an understanding of the health needs of the community the NGO is serving is key to getting a job as a Case Worker with an NGO.

If you want to learn more about nursing in the NGO sector, explore our page of NGO healthcare online courses here. If you want to know more about working for an NGO, see our page of the top NGO online courses here.


Duncan is the founder of Humanitarian Careers. With over ten years experience in the aid industry across fifteen countries, Duncan set-up Humanitarian Careers to help people launch their own career in international aid.