What do you do to volunteer and give back?

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    Volunteerism - do you do it and if so, what/where/how do you do it? I consider myself extremely fortunate: I have great jobs, friends and family. I have plenty to eat, a roof over my head and enough money to be comfortable. I also volunteer.

    What do you do to volunteer and give back?

    My volunteer career began before my nursing career - I was a candy-striper when I was 14 til about 16 years of age. This was back in the day where we wore white/red striped dresses. Don’t know if this even exists today - lol

    I volunteered for military service but not sure that counts as I got paid for it. Had a great time too.

    Then, came kids and we’ve all probably spent countless hours as the room mother, scout leader, Sunday School teacher - between my husband and myself I can’t even figure out the number of hours spent helping out with our sons’ activities. However, this was all a labor of love.

    We moved to our rural community 20 years ago. In our area, we have an all volunteer fire/EMS dept. We cover a wide area consisting of three small (<1500 people each) towns and lots of farmland. I joined our fire dept 17 years ago as a pre-hospital RN which in IL is a license issued by the IL Dept of Professional and Financial Regulation. I did both fire and EMS for 10 years and then changed to EMS only as I was having difficulty with the time commitment for fire training. I drive an ambulance and can drive the firetruck too. A little secret: I love the lights and siren!

    Our dept runs about 500 calls per year. We actually don’t transport patients as the “big city” ambulance service comes to the location of the call and we transfer care to them. However, as we are first on the scene, we have providers for both basic life support (BLS) as well as advanced life support (ALS) care. Many times we make the difference between survivability and death to our pts. Its especially important during inclement weather as the distance from the “big city” to our little area might mean a 20-30 minute transit time.

    It’s a huge responsibility. Totally a different ballgame from being in a hospital where resources are unending. Starting IVs while a pt is getting extricated, assessing a newborn in a house that has no electricity because it’s been turned off due to lack of payment are all challenges. Giving bad news is a challenge too without the support staff. In the pre-hospital environment, we don’t transport dead people. If they are dead when we get there, they stay there. This is out in the open, family/friends are all around. Performing CPR, intubating a critically ill patient, extricating patients from mangled vehicles all require a calm and confident provider. There is no social worker, chaplain or another provider to explain what is happening. We are IT!

    We currently have approx 50 EMS personnel: most are BLS providers; we have 4 ALS providers. I’m currently the only PHRN on our dept.

    Much of my time too is spent teaching - not in a classroom, but rather out on calls. We have many young, sometimes idealistic young people who volunteer. However, they might not have much life experience. One of the pitfalls of a rural fire dept is that you often know your patients. Thats hard - you talk with Mr. Smith on Sunday at church, then on Tuesday, you are called to his house due to chest pain. Its a tiny bit easier for me; being a healthcare provider because I am able to put on my “game face” and carry on doing what needs to be done.

    Some days are just hard though.

    However, volunteering provides me with a sense of self-worth. I do love my jobs but lets face it - we usually go to work for the paycheck.

    Volunteering fills a void that a paid job can’t…

    So...tell us - what do you to give back? Mission trips, free clinic, fire dept or something completely different….
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  3. by   Pca_85revived
    I'm going to sound awful, but I think my almost fifteen years in the medical field is enough for humans. Maybe a five or ten to a homeless person once in a while, a twenty to the Red Cross. Animals are where I shine. I've fostered and adopted many rescues, actually volunteered at the APL, and they've gotten a few hundred from me for seven? years. I just have so much more sympathy for the furry in need, cuz they love you no matter what. Even dogs rescued from dog fighting rings are sweet most of the time.
  4. by   traumaRUs
    Very cool...thats a wonderful give-back. Thanks.
  5. by   Jules A
    I'm also blessed to have more than I need and donate a percentage of my income to charity each year. I'm a supporter of several animal charities, MS, Alzheimer's and Breast cancer. My time donation is at the pediatric psychiatric hospital where I work, doing extra activities with the kids and fundraisers. Although I get paid very well my jobs are caring for underserved, vulnerable patients so in a way I feel that is trying to help make difficult lives better also. Great topic, whenever I do something charitable I always feel as if I got more in return that I have given.
  6. by   dorkypanda
    Before I considered changing my major to nursing, I volunteered at a local hospital as a concierge desk/guest ambassador and at the emergency department. Before I officially started nursing school, I volunteered at another local hospital on a nursing floor. It wasn't hands on, more like interacting with staff, visitors,family, and patients. This summer I did hospice volunteering, I was able to interact with several patients and it was a good experience.
  7. by   traumaRUs
    @JulesA - I think giving back is something that gives me more than I give the activity - not explaining myself well. What I mean is that in my everyday job its all about seeing the right number of pts and constantly rushing from one activity to the next. Although being in EMS is still rushing around, its more altruistic.

    @dorkypanda - those are great opportunities. A lot of nursing is people skills and being able to be empathetic. Best wishes in school.
  8. by   Jules A
    Quote from traumaRUs
    @JulesA - I think giving back is something that gives me more than I give the activity - not explaining myself well. What I mean is that in my everyday job its all about seeing the right number of pts and constantly rushing from one activity to the next. Although being in EMS is still rushing around,its more altruistic.
    I thought you explained it perfectly and was nodding in agreement. I want to leave this earth thinking I did some things that made it a better place. Your comment below really resonated with me:

    Quote from traumaRUs
    However, volunteering provides me with a sense of self-worth.
  9. by   NutmeggeRN
    I am very involved with St Baldrick's...
    St. Baldrick's Foundation Both running events (even shaved once and raised $3400) and doing advocacy work on Capitol Hill. On the BOD for a local scholarship to benefit HS seniors, on the BOD for a summer lunch program. So blessed in my role as a school nurse to be able to identify needs in the community and make a difference.
  10. by   pmabraham
    For years, I've volunteered as an official for junior and teen Bible quiz. That's always been fascinating that they are able to memorize complete chapters to an entire book of the Bible being able to quote word for word as well as being able to answer various questions in a short period of time.

    This past May, I started volunteering as a hospice patient companion where I do regular visits to hospice patient(s) as I'm assigned them; it is very eye opening as well as heart tugging.
  11. by   llg
    I give money, something I know that organizations need to accomplish their work. In fact, I have established 2 charitable funds where I work -- one for a scholarship program for our staff nurses ... and the other funds our extern program for nursing students. Once I got those 2 funds started, other people helped with donations to bring them up to a level at which they can do a lot of good for the nurses I work with.

    I take my donations very seriously and try to target my donations to accomplish things I want done. Bill Gates once said that it is just as hard to give money away wisely as it is to make it -- and I try to give mine away wisely.
  12. by   n6medjim
    After a long career of 6 years as a medical tele floor RN (I started late at age 63), I moved into Red Cross Disaster Health Services. A far cry from and a cake walk compared to floor nursing, it is nonetheless just as rewarding. It is more akin to public health nursing (or s I'm told). I have gotten and continue to get tremendous satisfaction in helping disaster victims with their unmet medical needs: getting meds and durable medical goods replaced that were lost in a disaster.
  13. by   Marge530
    I believe its very important to give back. I have done everything from getting my EMT-CT and ride an ambulance, to the Red Cross as a disaster planner. Now that I retired I am "working" for the Center for Sexual Abuse Survivors. Yes, there are other options and opportunities to do something less intense.....but these benefit from the skillset acquired from over 40 years of nursing. Not everyone can do it! Its an honor to be of service.
  14. by   TeamNutella
    I volunteer at an inpatient hospice facility. Some days it's really tough, but at the end of the day I am really glad I'm able to help. The nurses, patients, and the staff are always very appreciative of volunteer help.