We have some volunteers who absolutely get in the way, and some that I am so glad to have!
I will give you some tips. Treat this job like a real job for which you will be held accountable. Do not look at it as a time to sit around and visit.
Be where the staff can find you. Don't be wandering off to the cafeteria and break room all the time.
If you find a few of the staff that seem friendly and welcoming, tell them why you are there and ask them to please utilize you to the fullest. Be proactive, don't sit and wait to be asked to do something. Look interested! ASk if you can answer call lights. It will take a little while before you get the drift of what you can and can't do, but once the staff knows you are available and want to work and learn, you will be busy.
Our volunteers can take stable patients to the discharge area. They can bring stable patients to the room from triage. If allowed by your department, you can ask the patient to get into a gown if appropriate to the complaint and get them a blanket and pillow.
Try your best to take care of the patient requests if you can without just passing the request along to the nurse. Of course you will need to know if the patient is allowed to have juice or water before giving it to them. Generally everyone is NPO until evaluated.
You can fill and give ice packs to orthopedic injury patients.
Being the "gofer" may seem like a trivial thing, but it is invaluable to a busy nurse to have someone be a runner. Many times our tube system is down and labs must be walked to the lab, meds hand carried from pharmacy, etc.
Depending on the department, the staff is going to be busy, so they may not have time to chat with you but it doesn't mean they are being mean or not welcoming. There is one volunteer who will pick out a nurse to hover over and want to talk all day. When I am sitting at the computer, I am busy charting and don't have time to chat just because I am finally sitting down. So be available but don't be in the way.
You can really be a valuable asset to the department. Just look at this as the serious business it is.
Best of luck to you, and thanks in advance for all your help