Many people may not realize that hospitals require volunteers to operate at the highest possible level. If you think about the enormous scope of the healthcare industry’s responsibility, it begins to make a little bit more sense.
Hospitals are open every second of every day, providing life-saving care at the drop of a hat. It’s a responsibility for which a little more help is always warranted. But how can you lend a hand?
In this article, we take a look at what the process of volunteering at your local hospital will look like. Read on to learn more about how you can play an important role in your local healthcare system.
First, Why Volunteer?
That’s a good question. Out of all the people in the world, why are you the right fit to find a volunteer opportunity at your local hospital? There are several good reasons to volunteer.
- It’s a great way to build experience: If you want to find rewarding work in the healthcare industry that eventually awards a salary, it can help to have a little bit of relevant experience. This is particularly true for people who are interested in highly sought-after positions. Medical school can be extremely competitive. Having some hospital volunteer work on your resume will help your application stand out.
- Skill Enhancement: Volunteering in a hospital setting provides an opportunity to develop and enhance a wide range of skills. These can include communication, empathy, teamwork, time management, and adaptability. Working alongside medical professionals and engaging with diverse individuals helps you grow both personally and professionally.
- Insight into Healthcare: Volunteering offers a unique chance to gain insights into the healthcare field, fostering a better understanding of medical procedures, patient care, and the challenges faced by healthcare providers. This experience can be valuable for those considering a career in healthcare or related fields, allowing you to explore your interests and passions while giving back to the community.
- It’s meaningful: Beyond anything else, the ability to make a significant difference in other people’s lives should always be the primary motivating factor behind any work that you do in the healthcare sector. Hospitals are difficult. But being there to support people in their hardest moments is a noble way to spend your time while growing as a person.
And of course, there is also just the fact that it seems healthcare work has piqued your interest. You probably aren’t reading this article because you don’t want to volunteer at your local hospital. So make the leap!
Now that you have a good idea of why volunteering in healthcare can be meaningful and rewarding, let’s take a look at what your experience will look like.
Step 1: Speak with Your Local Hospital
The first thing you will need to do (naturally) is get in touch with your local hospital. Find out what kind of volunteer work they have available, and learn about their eligibility requirements. Some roles are open to almost anyone over the age of sixteen, while others may require special credentials.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions about what the work will entail and what types of situations you will come into contact with. Healthcare is hard and it is helpful to go in with an accurate understanding of what the work will entail.
Step 2: Training and Preparation
Most facilities will provide training sessions to familiarize you with their policies, procedures, and guidelines. This training might cover topics such as infection control, patient privacy, communication skills, and basic medical terminology. Depending on how much experience you have, this training may feel redundant and boring, or highly illuminating.
Either way, there is usually no getting out of it, so be prepared.
You might also need to undergo background checks and health screenings to ensure your suitability for working in a healthcare setting. It’s not going to be as exciting as, say, a Marvel movie, but it’s also not time wasted. Proper preparation will help you feel more confident and capable when assisting nurses and doctors.
Step 3: Settling into your role
Once you’ve jumped through all the hoops, all that will be left is to settle into your new role. And what might that role be? Heart surgeon? Blood transfusion specialist? Find out in our next heading.
Volunteer roles within the healthcare system
No. You probably won’t be doing any heart surgery. Actually, while there aren’t many certainties in life, this is one of them: No scalpels for you.
The work that most volunteers wind up doing is usually either administrative—scheduling appointments, answering phone calls, etc, or interpersonal.
This latter category is most likely what most volunteers will find the most rewarding. Responsibilities could include:
- Checking in with patients or family members: Hospitals can be stiff and procedural. Healthcare workers are heroes, of course, but sometimes, they are very blunt heroes. They provide facts and those facts and solutions— neither of which are necessarily being served up with a heaping spoonful of sympathy. Volunteers can help provide patients and their families with a more personal connection, checking in, chewing the fat, and just generally contributing a little bit of comfort to their experience.
- Greeting people as they come in: Working as a hospital greeter may not feel like the big leagues but it can make an important difference in the overall patient experience. Think about how anxious people are when they walk into the hospital. Seeing a friendly face right from the get-go can help offset some of those feelings and get them into the right headspace as they go in for their appointment.
- and then there are just the nuts and bolts things: Walking with a patient as they stretch their legs and do a tour of the floor. Delivering mail. Bringing this or that to a room that needs it. There are a million different needs taking place in a hospital at any given moment. Some of those needs require the trained hand of a medical professional but many do not.
Volunteering in the healthcare setting isn’t always going to be a walk in the park. You will see things that challenge you. People are usually there to deal with something that is hard. You need to be able to cope with seeing others in their most desperate moments.
The work won’t necessarily be for everyone. However, those that can deal with the most challenging aspects of healthcare work will be gifted with its most rewarding experiences: the knowledge that you are making a real difference in someone else’s life.
See larger image