Victoria's Story – Pediatric Registered Nurse (RN) in the Middle East
Sixty years ago, a local ruler was at a crossroads. Facing a maternal mortality rate of 60%, being pregnant at that time was “the kiss of death,” a hospital official shared.
With the population in decline, the ruler sent out an appeal for foreign doctors. An American physician and Jesus follower working in the region responded. As soon as he began caring for the local community, lives were saved and the population began to grow.
What began as a small clinic, eventually grew into the only Christian maternity-focused hospital in the country. Today, that legacy continues by being the first choice for maternity care among the predominantly Muslim community.
This kingdom legacy and tangible community impact are what first caught Victoria’s attention.
“They’re representing Christ in the Middle East. I didn’t think (a hospital) could have a mission that bold,” says Victoria, a Pediatric Registered Nurse (RN) who spent three months working in the pediatric ward. “But this is the people’s first choice to have their babies and I felt like my beliefs really align. Like, it’s really cool to be here,” she remembers.
Yet, taking a nursing job in the Middle East wasn’t always on her radar.
“My first love is working with pediatrics,” says Victoria. And having spent the past few years as a travel nurse, she wasn’t one to shy away from the unknown. “I have a really outgoing personality. I’m a really motivated person and I get excited with anything that’s new,” she says.
So, when she saw an Instagram post looking for an RN to work in the region, she scheduled a Discovery Call to learn more.
Victoria connected with a coach who shared Scatter’s vision to see Jesus followers living out their unique, God-given shape in every industry and every place – especially areas of the world where Jesus is less known. She also learned about global job opportunities that matched her skillset and more about the recruiting partner who would walk her through the entire process from interview prep to contract negotiations and visa paperwork.
To Victoria’s surprise, one job happened to be in a hospital her mentor and colleague not only knew but had personally visited. With his encouragement, Victoria decided to apply.
“Okay, I’m just gonna take the leap; I’m gonna do this.”
The interview went really well and about a month later, she received her offer letter. That’s when the paperwork started. It took another five months before she finally landed in the country and immediately jumped into a month-long orientation covering hospital policies, procedures, and even cultural insights regarding traditional dress and local customs.
Orientation was really thorough and fun, Victoria remembers. “It was cool, because I met people from all over the world. There were people from Oman, South Africa, other Middle Eastern countries. I felt like we represented the whole world,” she says.
Many of Victoria’s colleagues were also Christians coming from all over the world: India, the Philippines, America, Canada, and others.
“I felt like (the team) represented the Great Commission,” she says, “just shining the light of Christ (through) patient-centered care and being genuine.”
She quickly discovered that not only is this hospital the only openly Christian maternity center in the country, but it is well established and highly respected by the local, predominantly Muslim population. In fact, local women want to have their children there.
But connecting with new local friends turned out to be more challenging than expected. “It’s really cool being a nurse with other cultures because number one, they trust you,” Victoria says. “They know you’re putting your best foot forward and they’re more likely to be vulnerable and want to open up.”
And when they do let you in, “You’re seeing a side that no one sees,” she shares.
After a few days of caring for one of her young patients, Victoria found herself sitting on the floor with her patient’s mom and having tea. “I felt like we connected on a deeper level,” she says. “I was giving her advice, she was giving me advice and she felt like a friend,” she remembers fondly.
When her son was readmitted sometime later, she confided to Victoria that none of her friends reached out. She felt really alone.
“I was able to be a friend to this mom while caring for her son,” she says.
Their friendship eventually deepened outside of hospital hours with coffee and conversations. “(We were) just two girls having fun,” she remembers. And when time came for Victoria to head back to the US, she received a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a sweet note saying, “You’ll always have friends here.”
Living and working in this region definitely has its challenges, but for Victoria, it was the ability to connect across vastly different cultures and even beliefs, while providing practical bedside care to her patients. “They don’t separate religion and their life, ever,” she says. So, being able to pray in the hospital and have deeper conversations happened naturally.
“As a nurse, you always have to build rapport with your patients (but) as a foreigner, people (here) are extremely intrigued,” Victoria says. From questions about why someone would come all this way for a job, to conversations about life and culture, there are always opportunities to connect.
“Even more than a local neighbor, I think (foreigners) have the opportunity to have influence and share their lives with others in a unique way.”
Scatter Stories is a monthly series highlighting how God is using everyday people in everyday jobs to make a kingdom impact around the world.
Written by: Kristin Boyd