CA new grad RN wants to volunteer in Alabama at disaster sites



I graduated from nursing school this past December and got my RN in February. I also got my ACLS this month. I haven't been able to find a job yet in California. I'm just sitting around with plenty of time on my hands. I would love to go out to Alabama and volunteer as an RN while helping the storm victims. Would I be able to volunteer as an RN? Would they even have any use for a new grad RN, or do they typically require "experienced" RN's? As long as I'm doing something to help people. I heard that you need to find an organization to "sponsor" you. I'm not even sure where to start looking. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you



250 Posts

You need to contact the Red Cross. Usually, you have to take a natural disaster course. You can not just go work as a RN in other states with your CA license. The only time you can work in more than one state with a license is when you live in a state that provides the multi-state license. The only thing people can do is good samaritan. That is if someone needs help and you help them in good faith, you can not be sued. Some states required licensed health care providers to stop at accident scenes, etc. while other states do not. Research what the laws are in your state.

Wow I see a lot of Cali nurses on here. I hope things get better out there soon.

Last summer I put my resume on career builder and the recruiters from Cali called a lot. Good luck. That is sweet you want to help. I wish I could help, too.

Edited by nurse.sandi
spelling correction


roser13, ASN, RN

Specializes in Med/Surg, Ortho, ASC. Has 17 years experience. 6,504 Posts

On a more practical note: Only go to "disaster zones" if you are completely self-contained. That is to say: you have enough food, water, supplies and a place to stay for the duration. Otherwise, you will be yet another drain on the local resources.

Realistically, it is best to stay at home and donate $$ to the local efforts.



81 Posts

I agree with roser. We've really been blessed with the outpouring of love and support that's been shown to us. There are already plenty of local volunteers from the surrounding communities here in North Alabama, MS, TN, and GA. If you're from further out of state and want to help, the best thing you can do would be to donate money. We still need supplies, especially water. Power has yet to be restored in many areas and people have been asked to conserve water. Donating money so that we can bring in more bottled water and other much needed supplies would definitely be a huge help.



21 Posts

Thank you all for your responses. I was under the impression that you still needed many volunteers. For now, I will send a donation through the Red Cross. There are still over 400 missing, which is heartbreaking. I'll be thinking of those in the affected states.

Dazglue, ADN, BSN, MSN, RN

Has 8 years experience. 380 Posts

They have TONS are healthcare members in that area. Our hospital sent up 2 loads of EMT's/Paramedics, a mobile moruge, and a lot of nurses. What you can do is go on facebook at look for the group Toomer's for Tuscaloosa. You will find a lot of things you can do to help. The items you can send and where, or to make a donation. Thanks! Very devastating down here!



Specializes in ER. 96 Posts

I am not sure how it is in Alabama, but I work in N. Ga near Ringgold where there was an EF-4 and they are turning volunteers away , and are not allowing nurses to help unless they are also an EMT or paramedic with one of the EMS services.

RedChair, ADN, RN

Specializes in Med-Surg, ICU. 57 Posts

Hi, I live in North Alabama and just want to say thank you for the thought. I do believe they require that you are certified to come and help out (Not sure by who exactly). They were saying something on the radio about only the precertified medical personel are asked to report. We are out of power here, I am living off a generator right now. We were so very fortunate though to have minimal damage at our house. We may be without power for another 3-10 days! All hotels are booked solid and supplies are hard to come by, so really donations of money would be the most helpful right now. Thank you so much for caring from so far away! You obviously have a good heart. :yeah:Relysh

canesdukegirl, BSN, RN

Specializes in Trauma Surgery, Nursing Management. Has 14 years experience. 8 Articles; 2,543 Posts

Does your state have a State Medical Assistance Team? It is sort of like the federal version of DMAT.

My hubby is a disaster relief coordinator for a region in NC. If you need help finding an SMAT, maybe I can get him to give you some more info.

You do need to take some classes (some of them are online) and have an orientation in disaster preparedness. This typically takes a weekend to complete. I was at Katrina during that horrific time, and I was mostly triaging pts. It is rewarding work, but exhausting and heartbreaking to boot. However, the time I spent down in La. was invaluable to me.

Let me know if you need more info.

canesdukegirl, BSN, RN

Specializes in Trauma Surgery, Nursing Management. Has 14 years experience. 8 Articles; 2,543 Posts


OP, I just asked DH about the cali DMAT, and he said that you could absolutely join. He suggested the link that I sent you, so start there. Good luck!



Specializes in Psych. Has 9 years experience. 19 Posts

i live here in north alabama and although my neighborhood was not hit i am surrounded by devestation. it is heartwarming to think that someone all the way in california is willing to come and help. big hugs and thanks to you for the kind thoughts. :redpinkhe please do keep all those who lost so much in your thoughts and prayers. i have never seen anything even close to this. it is heartbreaking. this will be a long, slow process and i'm sure many opportunities will continue to become available. you can go to the website for the alabama department of public health and register as a volunteer. the govenor has also instituted a volunteer program through the state888-421-1266. according to the address by the governor today this is a category 1 natural disaster which is what katrina and 911 were.