Is volunteer nursing viable experience for student nurses?

  1. 0
    Greetings,

    I am a nursing student graduating in December. I will be going to Nicaragua for 2-3 months to volunteer at a local hospital while I study for the NCLEX. I was wondering if this experience realistically is viewed positively by hospitals looking to hire new nurses. I am sure the personal experience will be amazing, but I wonder how much to play up the experience when interviewing for jobs?

    Thanks

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  2. 10 Comments...

  3. 1
    Volunteer experience is valuable. I went to an ADN program where you could exit and test as an LPN after one year. I got my LPN license over the summer, and spent the summer volunteering at the local hospital before begininning my last year of school. When I graduated I already had a job. A lot of that was due to my volunteering. Think of it this way. You have 50 new grads in front of you, and no one has experience, except for you, who volunteered somewhere. Now, that being said. I would not recommend you taking months to study for boards. Experience has shown the longer you wait to take them, the lower the pass rate. I signed up and took them the first available date after graduation. Graduated in May, tested in July.
    Now if you wait 2-3 months before signing up, you may have to wait for 2 months to test. That will be 5 months after graduation. I would think you would be less prepared than when you first graduated. I would take my boards first, then if you want to travel and volunteer, that would probably look pretty good on your resume.

    Good luck in whatever you choose to do.
    TLCfromSC likes this.
  4. 0
    Thanks for the advice! I will definitely sign up for the NCLEX first, but as you yourself mentioned it can be 2-3 months until a testing date is available. This is the time I would spend in Nicaragua. Thanks again.
  5. 0
    I used to work in Nursing Orientation alongside recruiting. Voluntering can be an opportunity to get references that highlight your ability to work with a variety of coworkers and patients, cultural competence, your flexibility, willingness to learn and take instruction, zealous study as needed during service, your self care and balance in lifestyle. Ask for mentors that will shape your character and integrity and tell them you need honest feedback then written recommendations.Have fun!
  6. 0
    PS: I have been a RN over 30 years. It was my volunter job in Stop Smoking that gave me PhD mentors, experience teaching and later the job as Nurse Orientor. Now I have the privilege of working parttime and volunteering in the community. RNs that work parttime and then volunteer tend to avoid burnout and are easier to live with. Count your days.Prioritize.It is a great career with amazing flexibility to give back.
  7. 0
    Considering that I changed from 27 years in engineering field to nursing after a year or two of volunteer work in health care, I'd say volunteering can definitely help you 'set your sites'. I went back to school and completed my LPN program. I continued to volunteer while in school at a free medical clinic in our area. After obtaining my license, I kept volunteering while working PRN at paying jobs. After a year, I was hired on a part time basis at the clinic-my original job goal met!

    Since I was changing careers, I thought the volunteer work would help me when applying for a paying job-to show I was sincere about this major transition while in my late 50's and to show initiative. At several interviews, people would review my resume and ask if I had done 'any real work' in nursing. I responded with my volunteer experience working as a licensed nurse and as part of a medical office staff. Most would respond, "Oh, so you haven't done any real work." even after they read the list of tasks I performed. Moral-not all employers understand the work of a volunteer so don't be surprised if they do not put any value to your work. I guess they think we just sit around and fluff magazines. Hmm, how does "diabetic and insulin use training' translate to sitting around fluffing magazines all day?

    All that said, I still volunteer with Remote Area Medical and offer my services as a volunteer when possible at the clinic where I am now employed. Volunteer opportunities can get you back to seeing we all don't have the same options for medical care and how do we provide the care many people need. How do you help an insulin dependent diabetic-who lives in their car?

    Star
  8. 2
    Volunteering in a foreign environment is life changing and lets you develop your physical examine skills as you do not have all the fancy tests. It opens your heart and eyes to how hard it is for many to just get basic care, how poor the education is in 3rd world countries and how lucky you are to live in USA. It can suck you and break your heart so be sure to allot time for your studying. I am a full time missionary FNP in Honduras. 10 years ago I went on my first mission trip and fell in love with nursing again. After 2.5 years I went back to the US to get my FNP and then went to Guatemala for 2 years and now am back in Honduras. I have been to Ethiopia, Argentina, Haiti too. It is a great way to see the world and give back. So go, experience and then remember how you have been blessed. Besides, if you have to wait to work and take the NCLEX you might as well do some good in the world, I can not imagine an employer would look poorly on this.
    livinforChrist1 and jmiraRN like this.
  9. 0
    Quote from cbrown12
    Volunteering in a foreign environment is life changing and lets you develop your physical examine skills as you do not have all the fancy tests. It opens your heart and eyes to how hard it is for many to just get basic care, how poor the education is in 3rd world countries and how lucky you are to live in USA. It can suck you and break your heart so be sure to allot time for your studying. I am a full time missionary FNP in Honduras. 10 years ago I went on my first mission trip and fell in love with nursing again. After 2.5 years I went back to the US to get my FNP and then went to Guatemala for 2 years and now am back in Honduras. I have been to Ethiopia, Argentina, Haiti too. It is a great way to see the world and give back. So go, experience and then remember how you have been blessed. Besides, if you have to wait to work and take the NCLEX you might as well do some good in the world, I can not imagine an employer would look poorly on this.
    That sounds amazing!
  10. 0
    I too would like to do medical missions. I have just recently went on a mission trip to the Philippines and this was an eye opening experience for me. I am in my last year in the nursing program. I am considering going abroad. Problem is I have loans that I need to pay off first. What did you do to prepare and was it hard to adjust to different cultures?
  11. 0
    What organization did you go with? I am looking to go to a Spanish speaking country for about 4 weeks. I want a place where there will be very few English speaking people. Looking for an immersion situation at a hospital, health care clinic or even traveling to rural settings to do health care.
    Emily


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