You might want to get into medical school or just help people; In any case, volunteering at a hospital is a great way to give back to the community. Volunteer work options at a hospital vary significantly, from reading books to children, transporting patients, answering the phone to working at the gift shop. If you can match your interests with the volunteer opportunities available, you can have the most rewarding experience. The volunteering process differs from hospital to hospital, but it will likely include an interview, an application, and an orientation.
Part 1 of 3: Finding a Suitable Option
Step 1. Find a hospital
Make a list of hospitals in your area that you are willing to visit frequently. Volunteering in a hospital is a big commitment. You must find a hospital that you can conveniently visit. For example, if you plan to volunteer after school or work, choose a hospital that is close to your work or school. If you plan to volunteer on the weekends, choose a hospital that is close to the area where you live.
- Make use of resources like Google Maps, the phone book, and your knowledge of the area.
- Don't discount small hospitals and clinics.
- Browse the Internet to find the phone number for volunteer services, or write down the main phone number for the hospital.
Step 2. Learn more about volunteer opportunities
After you've found the hospitals that interest you, visit their websites for information on volunteer opportunities. Most hospitals have volunteer programs. Their web pages will provide the contact information for your volunteer office. You can call the hospital if you have any questions or concerns about volunteering at the hospital.
- When visiting a hospital website, check the different areas of the hospital that accept volunteers.
- Make a list of hospitals that have areas that you find interesting and are in a convenient location.
Step 3. Choose volunteer opportunities that match your interests
There are many ways to volunteer in a hospital. You can attend to patients, family members and visitors to the hospital. Find an opportunity that matches your interests. You should enjoy volunteering and it should be beneficial to you and the hospital.
- If there is a particular population you would like to work with, you should find a hospital geared towards that population.
- If you like working with children, you can volunteer at a children's hospital. If you like working with the elderly, you can volunteer at a nursing home.
- If you want to interact with patients, you must do volunteer work in an area that provides direct patient care.
- If you want to help hospital visitors, you might have to volunteer in the reception area or in the gift shop.
- If you don't want to interact with patients or visitors, you may be able to help with administrative work, such as checking in files or deleting documents.
Step 4. Find out what the requirements are
Requirements for volunteer work vary from hospital to hospital. The requirements will be different for teen and adult volunteers. Hospitals generally have requirements for the age and expected time of participation (eg, hours per week, 6 months or 1 year, etc.). Some hospitals have special volunteer or summer internship programs for students.
- Requirements will also vary depending on the area in which you choose to volunteer. For example, in a hospital you can start volunteering at age 15, but you will not be able to interact with patients until you are 18 years old.
- If you are under 18 years of age, you will require your parents' permission to volunteer at the hospital.
Part 2 of 3: Going through the application process
Step 1. Complete an application
You will need to complete a volunteer application at the hospital. You can often complete the application online or download it from the hospital's website. Typically, a member of the volunteer office will contact you after they have received your application and will tell you what the next steps are. You must indicate in your application the specific areas in which you would like to do volunteer work.
- Choose more than one area of interest in your application, in case you cannot access your first option.
- Most hospitals will conduct a criminal and personal background check as part of your application.
- Submit your request as soon as possible. Positions are likely to be filled in the order in which applications are received.
- If you are applying to a special summer program, check the application dates. The dates may differ from the deadlines for other types of volunteering.
Step 2. Obtain your medical history
Hospitals will generally require that you have received the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine and have recently undergone a tuberculosis (TB) skin test. If you have already received these vaccines, the documents of your results will be requested. If you haven't received these vaccinations, they will need to be given to you before you can volunteer at a hospital.
- Also, some hospitals require an influenza (flu) vaccine and a chickenpox vaccine or immunization.
- If you need to get vaccinated and get tested for TB, go to your general practitioner or local health department.
Step 3. Complete your interview
Many hospitals like to interview potential volunteers. You should be ready to answer a few questions when you go to your interview. Why do you want to volunteer at the hospital? What would you like to do as a volunteer? What are your interests? Do you have any special abilities? How did you find out about the hospital's volunteer program?
- It may help to think about these questions and write down the answers before the interview.
- Don't think of the interview as a formal job interview. The hospital is actually trying to find a volunteer position that is right for you.
- Answer honestly and be yourself during the interview.
Step 4. Attend orientation
Generally, you will be asked to attend some kind of orientation before starting your volunteer work. The orientation will address many topics such as hospital policies and procedures, volunteer requirements and expectations, and the history and mission of the hospital. In addition to general orientation, you will likely receive training in your particular volunteer area.
- Orientation can take place online or at the hospital.
- In some hospitals, you may need to attend orientation before completing your application. If so, you will receive information about the application and interview process during the orientation.
- Focus and ask questions during orientation. This is also a good time to meet some of the people you might have to work with.
- In the orientation they will also indicate your position.
Part 3 of 3: Being a Good Volunteer
Step 1. Be professional at all times
You will not be an employee, but you must still be professional. Attend work on time, treat patients and visitors respectfully, report any dangerous conditions, and don't use your cell phone while doing your volunteer work. Your professional conduct will contribute to a safe environment for you, patients, visitors, and hospital employees.
- Also, do not give your contact information to patients or visit them outside of the hospital. Professional limits can be altered if you provide your personal information to patients. Going over this limit can make patients dependent on you, feel overwhelmed or stressed, and less objective in helping patients and their families.
- You should avoid all physical contact, unless you are asked to touch patients as part of your job. You should avoid physical contact, this way you will guarantee the safety of the patient and yours. Germs should not be passed between you and patients.
Step 2. Dress up your uniform and wear your badge
Hospitals generally require volunteers to wear a uniform. Your uniform will indicate to patients, visitors, and hospital staff that you are a volunteer. Keep your uniform neat and clean. By wearing it, you will represent the hospital. Your name plate should always be visible.
- If you lose your badge, report it to your supervisor.
- In addition to wearing the uniform, there are likely to be other dress code guidelines, such as wearing flat, closed-toe shoes.
- Get ready to pay for your uniform.
Step 3. Follow the rules
As a volunteer, you must respect the privacy of all hospital patients. Do not release medical information, name, address, phone number, or other identifying information about patients. Likewise, it will be your responsibility to know and comply with the other policies and procedures (eg, emergency procedures, infection control, etc.)
- If you are ever unsure about something, check your volunteer manual, or check with your supervisor or the volunteer office.
- If you want to tell someone a story about part of your work at the hospital, try not to mention the names or any specific information about the patients.
Step 4. Don't accept gifts
If you volunteer frequently, you will begin to develop a friendship with some of the patients and family members. Patients and family members will be grateful for all the help you have given them and may give you gifts to try to show their gratitude. However, volunteers should never accept gifts from patients.
- If a patient gives you something, say "He is very kind, but he cannot accept it" or "He is very kind, but no thanks."
- If a patient insists that you accept something, take the gift and give it to your supervisor. Let your supervisor know that you have politely declined the gift, but the patient has insisted that you accept it.
- You will not be a paid employee, but you will still be considered a professional. Accepting gifts can compromise your relationship with patients. For example, if you accept a gift, some patients may expect to receive special treatment or favors from you.
- Some hospitals have strict policies on this. You could lose your volunteer position at the hospital.
- You may be able to volunteer in more than one area.
- Most hospitals require volunteers to commit to work for a specified period. This can vary from 8 weeks to 1 year. If you can't commit to work for this entire time, find a different place to volunteer.
- The application process may vary by hospital. Always ask questions if you don't know something for sure.