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How to Volunteer at a Hospital?

Volunteering can be one of the most rewarding acts an individual can do.  Done correctly, it can be selfless and nurture a level of empathy and compassion.  Individuals can gain new experiences and life lessons from volunteering.  In addition, volunteering for differing organizations can help individuals to narrow their career path journey and to decide on the one that they find most fulfilling.

Nearly 16 million Americans are employed in the healthcare industry.  This accounts for nearly 11% of all jobs and is expected to grow to 18% by 2026 at a rate much faster than the average of all other occupations.  As-such, there is a general interest and curiosity in the healthcare industry, particularly by younger individuals.

One of the most popular forms of volunteering, especially for younger individuals, is at their local hospital.  This volunteering experience gives individuals a direct opportunity to interface with hospital software, machinery, and patients.  Volunteers are able to get a first-hand view of hospital operations and processes.

When applying to volunteer at a hospital, a common and typical question that may be asked is to list the reasons why you want to volunteer there.  Hospitals generally receive an overwhelming level of volunteer interest, so they can be a bit more selective.  Below, I’m going to discuss reasons to volunteer at a hospital and why you should consider it as-well.

 

Duties of a Hospital Volunteer

Volunteering at a hospital, whether over or under 18-years of age, will typically include non-patient facing duties.  As a volunteer, unless you have a medical degree, you will likely not deal or interact with patients in a direct manner.  You may be tasked with assisting patients in an indirect manner, but you will likely not be a main point of contact for any patient.

The reason a volunteer is not tasked with direct patient care or access is that they simply do not have the necessary credentials to do so.  Patient access and assistance will be administered by trained, licensed professionals, including hospital nurses and doctors.

As a volunteer, your duties will likely include clerical work, such-as filing of information, typing, and answering phone calls and FAX messages.  In addition, volunteers may be tasked with concierge duties, including greeting and welcoming of new patients.  Lastly, duties may also include patient care delivery, including bringing pillows, food, blankets, or beverages to patients.

Number of Hours You’ll Need to Commit

Although there is no set rule, a volunteer at a hospital will likely need to commit 50-hours of volunteer work per year.  This is a minimum requirement and most volunteers will have the opportunity to commit, and put-in, additional hours.

The 50-hours will likely be divided in 4-hour shifts.  A volunteer at a hospital under 18 years of age may look to commit 4-hours a week over their summer vacation, which can provide them with the full 50-hour minimum needed.

How to Find Volunteer Opportunities at a Hospital

Hospitals are always looking for volunteers to assist them.  However, they do have strict requirements on which volunteers they accept.  If you’re looking for a volunteer opportunity at a hospital, you should simply Google local hospitals around you.  From there, you can narrow your search by Googling “[Hospital Name] Volunteering”.  This will provide you with the hospitals volunteer program page where you can apply.

After completing an online application, expect to conduct an interview with the volunteer manager.  From there, you will likely need to get a TB test and a flu shot.  You will then need to attend a volunteer orientation, complete all volunteer and working documents, and have a background check completed.  You may also need to pay for a volunteer uniform.

If you are under 18-years of age, you will still need to be older than 15 to volunteer at a hospital.  You will likely need to provide a letter of consent from a parent or legal guardian.  In addition, you may be asked to provide a letter of recommendation.  These letters will typically be provided by a teacher, principle, or coach.

Good Candidates to Volunteer at a Hospital

Whether you’re older or younger than 18-years of age, volunteering at a hospital takes commitment, hard work, and patience.  It is a fast-paced environment, that will require a volunteer to not be squeamish or disgusted by blood and any other bodily fluids.

Although a hospital is fast-paced, you’ll likely be doing volunteer level work and won’t be engaged too much with the patients.  Expect to work in a clerical, reception, or orientation level field.  As you get more accustomed to the ways the hospital functions, and with the time you put in, you’ll be given more-and-more opportunities to volunteer in a more impactful manner.

Reasons to Volunteer At A Hospital

To Help People

Perhaps one of the main reasons why so many people want to volunteer at a hospital is to simply help other people.  Volunteering at a hospital allows you to be on the frontlines of medicine and healthcare.  You’ll have the ability to interface with patients and work with the medical staff to improve the patients’ health.  Even if you don’t work directly with patients’, by making a medical staff members day easier, you indirectly help with their care.

To Learn New Things

Hospitals are on the cutting edge of technology, software, medicine, and science.  Many hospitals also double as research institutions.  They offer a wide range of backgrounds and people, all who can help you to achieve your dreams or to expand your horizons.

To Give Back

Many times, people choose to volunteer at a hospital where they were previously treated.  Their thankfulness and appreciation to the staff make them feel compelled to give back and assist where they can.

To Make A Difference

To generalize a bit, not all volunteering experience is the same.  Whereas some volunteer work provides direct, actionable difference, others do not.  Volunteering at a hospital almost assuredly will make a difference and an impact.  You’ll be able to help patients’ and staff and work on improving a patients’ long-term health.

To Be Selfless

One of the most selfless acts that you can do is to volunteer.  It is a form of work without any monetary payment or compensation, there are even some volunteer work where you have to pay!  But aside from that, volunteering at a hospital is a selfless act and one that can make you feel good.

For the Opportunities

Volunteering at a hospital is a great way to build up your network of connections.  These connections can help refer you to additional volunteering opportunities or guide you on your career path.  You will be working with individuals from all backgrounds and will have a unique opportunity to liaise with each of them.

 

 

Conclusion

Volunteering at a hospital is one of the most selfless acts someone can do.  It provides individuals with a unique, firsthand view of the hospital system and its processes and can be beneficial to deciding future career paths.  Volunteering at a hospital is a great way to make a difference and to give back to your community.

If you do volunteer at a hospital, be sure to list it on your resume.  This can be a great conversation starter and a way to show employers your diverse and varied background.  It will help you stand out from the competition and make you a more well-rounded candidate.

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