Volunteer vs. Shadowing

  1. Hi all, I'm new to all of this. Since I was 11 years old, I always wanted to be a nurse. Long story short, my dad told me I wouldn't make it. And stupid me..... I believed him. Now I'm in my thirties and I wanna go for my dream. I'm married and a mommy of two lilttle ones. So I have to be very wise about what moves I make; in order to make this dream come true. So my questions are:

    what are the benefits of shadowing a nurse?
    Is shadowing something done for just a few hours or a day?
    Will I really get the real feel for nursing in just one day of shadowing?
    What do volunteers do? Cause I wouldn't want the nurses to feel like I'm in their way. I'm thinking about volunteering in my local hospital.

    Thanks so much for taking the time to read this and for any advice given.
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    About NursingDreamsS

    Joined: Sep '11; Posts: 4; Likes: 2


  3. by   Jules A
    I would think that unless you are a nurse already or have a good hook up with someone in power the chances of shadowing a nurse without the intent of being hired for that unit is slim. Volunteering or working as a tech would be an excellent segway into nursing to see if it is something you would be able to do. Good luck!
  4. by   RN in training
    funny, i would say the opposite of the first post...I'm in my first semester of nursing school. I've shadowed a RN at an ambulatory surgery center several times and I work as a CNA and sitter. Comparing what I saw while I was shadowing to what I see as a CNA, I would say that shadowing (even one day) does a MUCH better job of giving a feel for what a "day in the life" is like. When I work as a CNA and sitter, it's more like "You do you, I'll do me, and if you happen to need help I'm here" but not a lot of getting to watch what the nurses do-because there's no time! I've never volunteered but I'm assuming they'd keep even volunteers busy enough that you wouldn't get to do much more than run some papers for nurses or say "hey" when one walks by your station...

    That said, while I don't think volunteering would give you a feel for what nursing is like, it would give you a feel for the general atmosphere of the hospital (which is something to get used to in and of itself). And it's a great way to serve your community and to begin networking because even if it seems like it will be forever til you have RN behind your name, "who" you know can be very helpful in the competetive hiring process one day...

    So my 2 cents is volunteer if you have time (easier said than done, i know!) but if you really want to get a feel for what nursing is like, shadow as much as you can. That way, you get to see a lot of the little details and interpersonal communication between members of healthcare team...

    And i know what you mean about someone bringing you down- my 4th grade math teacher called me stupid in front of the whole class one day and I didn't realize until a few years ago (now i'm in my late-20s) that i'm actually pretty awesome with math and science. and you know what? i sure as heck went back to my grade school, found her, and told her exactly that. lol she didn't even remember me but it made me feel resolved about it.

    Shadow if you can and you're going to be great, i'm sure. good luck with the full load your balancing!
    Last edit by RN in training on Sep 9, '11 : Reason: oops!
  5. by   blueyesue
    Contact your local hospital and sign up for shadowing. I did it and it only reinforced my interest in nursing. You can always volunteer after shadowing if you want. I too waited to get into nursing. I will be 40 the year I graduate.

    Best of luck to you. I'm glad that you are rising above and going for it.
  6. by   Jules A
    Interesting that they allow non nurses on a unit but something I would definitely do if I was thinking about nursing as a career.
  7. by   dedicatedone
    Congrats on your progress! Figuring out what you want to do is hard enough and this board will be such a great support system.

    I have been very lucky to experience both volunteering and shadowing and I would say the two are very different. Volunteering will give you general knowledge of the workings of the hospital, rehab center, or office you are in but you will never truly understand the level of communication between a provider and their patient. Volunteering will provide you many opportunities to interact with patients, the medical staff, and others within the hospital. It's a great way to expand your scope of the facility and daily operations.
    Shadowing on the other hand will bring you into the clinician/patient relationship and will help you understand the many roles a nurse has. It has really help me to understand just what nursing is all about and how this position is different than any other in the medical setting.
  8. by   hiddencatRN
    One of the major teaching hospitals here has a volunteer program for folks interested in going in to health professions. You volunteer but also spend time shadowing and it's supposed to give you a better sense of what you'd do as a professional than volunteer positions geared towards folks who just want to help out. I imagine it's not a unique program, so look at your local hospitals.

    I did this and it was a wonderful experience.
  9. by   RNperdiem
    It depends on where your hospital puts volunteers.
    At my hospital, volunteers staff front desks and answer phones. There is little patient contact. Especially in ICU where I work, nobody without some kind of credentials interacts with patients.
    Shadowing will put you closer to the action. You will need to set up an opportunity to shadow through the nurse manger of the place you want to observe. The drawback, is that you only see a limited view. You might catch the nurse or unit on a bad day and get a false impression.
    The best way to observe, is to work as a CNA. This is nursing and patient care at its most basic level.
  10. by   LuvScrubs2
    Good Luck and follow your dreams..........
    Stay Encouraged....
  11. by   NursingDreamsS
    thank you all, for your advice!!!! i greatly appreciate it. i'm glad to be part of such a great support system.
  12. by   elijahrose
    I just joined this website and I am glad to get so many questions answered. Thank you all for your input and comments, helps me a great deal!!!!