I know this is an old thread, but I have volunteered in quite a few hospitals in many different positions.
My first volunteer experience, I volunteered 12 hours per week. I started each of my 4 hour shifts by rounding to all the patients in the hospital (approximately 200 beds) in a sort of patient satisfaction/advocacy position. When I finished, I would sit at the security/welcome desk in the lobby and assist visitors and others. The ambulatory surgery pacu would frequently call me up to their unit to manage phones because they were staffed by nurses and Drs only (no support staff).
The next time I volunteered, I was placed in the labor and delivery floor one day a week and the mother baby two days a week. On l&d, I usually stocked rooms, made beds, delivered samples to the lab, assembled charts, and answered phones. On busy days I would also answer call bells and direct traffic in triage. In the mother baby unit I spent most of the time in the nursery. I did the same things the pca did, except that for liability reasons, I was not allowed to be alone with the infants.
Last summer, I volunteered in two hospitals, and I was given four assignments. In one hospital, I was placed on the adult oncology floors and bmt floor. My job was to provide for comfort needs and help distract the patients. I was often asked to sit with dying patients who had no visitors. It was scary but inspirational.
In that same hospital, I also volunteered in the ED in the evenings. This is a very busy ED with a burn center, level 1 trauma center, psych emergency, urgent care center, as well as specialists in many unique fields. I got to set up for major trauma cases, accompany pts to the bathrooms, play with children during their procedures, sit with lols with dementia, and do many other patient related things.
In the other hospital, I spent one day a week in PACU where I did a lot of data entry, as well as escorting patients out and bringing them food or drink. I also was allowed to observe surgeries on slow days. The other day I assisted a nure manager in a chemical dependence unit. I rounded with her, attended meetings where I took minutes, did some research to improve EBP, and did some other projects re occurrence reports, med reconciliation, and falls.
Even though I know this does not count as "experience", I can say that each of these positions have helped my studies.
I am very comfortable speaking to patients. When we covered perioperative, most of the material was easy for me to remember because I saw it. During oncology, I remembered the side effects my patients had and was good at therapeutic communication questions. When I did psych, I knew the substance material already.
In order to maximize my experience, I always let staff know I'm a nursing student. They often will give you opportunities you otherwise wouldn't have. I think they also take you more seriously because they know you're volunteering ti learn something.