ED Volunteer

  1. Hi everyone!
    I am not yet in nursing school, but I've decided that it's a career path I would like to head towards. So, I've begun to work on my pre-reqs, etc.

    Right now, I work in the corp world, and have zero working medical experience. I am starting to volunteer in the ED one night a week, and I want to make the most out of my time there.

    The ED is trauma 1, and of course (as all EDs are) is very busy. I want to be able to observe without getting in the way, and I want to dig in and help where I can. What do the volunteers in your ED do that helps you the most, or how would you want a volunteer who is interested in nursing to approach you about it?

    I'd like to provide the most help I can while there, but also gain a lot of insight and and learn about ED life. I'm very excited about this opportunity, and hope that it will enhance my drive and determination to succeed.

    I have very much enjoyed reading this forum, and I've already found really good advice on how to deal with various situations with patients. I really appreciate everyone's sharing of ideas, stories, and experiences!
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    About NCGal78

    Joined: Feb '14; Posts: 6


  3. by   ChristineN
    Volunteering is a good way to see what goes on, but you may also want to consider becoming a EMT or PCT and get a job as a tech in an ER. Our volunteers can do very little, they talk to pts, get snacks, disinfect toys, and can walk pts to rooms. Otherwise they spend a lot of time not being able to do much.
  4. by   Emergent
    Our volunteers seem mostly like deer in headlights. I hope they are learning something, but they often stand there looking lost.

    I advise you to be proactive.
  5. by   emtb2rn
    As a volunteer you won't be observing much because there's no reason for you to be watching what's going on with a patient. As stated above, tech will get you what you're looking for.
  6. by   NCGal78
    Thanks for the feedback! They have been very encouraging to ask questions and to let them know if there are things I'd like to observe. I certainly can't assist or anything like that, but hopefully over time I can see more and more. I definitely will get lots pt interaction and learn how to work with them appropriately. Just curious if there were any types of things that volunteers do that are more helpful than others. I'm sure I'll have the deer in the headlights look for a while.
  7. by   Hmarie12
    I used to volunteer in the ED before I became a CNA. I mostly made coffee, stocked rooms with gloves/linens and carts with medical supplies, made sure blanket warmers stayed full and occasionally ran samples to the lab. I sometimes was asked to get a patient's family something to drink or snack on. I would say it is important to keep busy while not getting in the nurses' way-especially when a trauma patient arrives (like seriously-glue yourself to the wall so you don't get run down!). While I would have loved to have seen and done more, it wasn't in my scope of practice (although it did help me score a position as a CNA in the same hospital where I can see and do much more). I would say work hard at the tasks you are allowed to do and don't think that anything you are asked to do is a waste of your time. Do the best job you can do with a good attitude and trust me, you will be appreciated. Even those tasks that seem menial save your nurses a lot of time when they have a busy patient load. Who knows! You might even get a reference out of it! Stocking patient cabinets etc. will also help you become familiar with medical supplies. Get as much as you can out of it
  8. by   NCGal78
    Thanks, Hmarie! I definitely want to get used to things such as the supplies, some terminology, seeing how things operate and just an idea of what working as an RN in the ED would be like. I don't mind cleaning wheel chairs, greeting pts, making coffee, constantly filling up the blanket warmer... lol I know these will definitely be my main chores.

    I've looked into EMT as well... but I think it would just add more time and money to what I ultimately want to do. It'll take a solid year or so for me to have my pre-reqs totally completed. I'm meeting w/ the dean of nursing at (one of) the school I plan on applying to, to talk about what I need to work on prior to applying. I'd absolutely LOVE to find a nurse that would be willing to write a reference for me after working with me as a volunteer. We shall see!

    I really appreciate all of the input from you guys so far!
  9. by   zmansc
    My hospital hires EMTs as techs in the ER. I don't know if that would be an option for you or not. If they do, getting your EMT now, which I was able to do as a night class, would help you to get in as a tech, give you much more interaction with the nurses and a better feel for the ER in general than as a volunteer and give you better experience to use while your in your RN program.

    Ultimately, each person and their situation is different. A good self assessment of where you are, and where you want to get to, and how to best get there will tell you what is best for you. No one answer is right for everyone.

    I had a strong background in cell biology and my EMT training but really no experience in medicine when I started RN school. A classmate of mine had 15+ yrs as a paramedic but really struggled in our biology pre-reqs, especially in A&P. He had no problems with the presentation type questions or material, he could pick that up quick, he'd seen pts with those presentations so many times, it was obvious to him. He also needed very little study to pick up most of the material in pharm. I struggled with both of those, but if they asked why questions, why did this pt become hypokalemic, or whatever, I could almost always figure that out and he struggled with those questions. So, having the sciences background and some medical background will help you put together all of the pieces as you go through your RN program.
  10. by   bebbercorn
    Offer pillows, snacks and beverages (ask if the pt is allowed first!) and an ear. Volunteers have the opportunity to help do what we want to do for the patient, but simply do not have time. Ask if you see something that interests you, but keep a tough skin when staff is "too busy" to answer questions. Observe what you can. Good luck to you!
  11. by   NCGal78
    Thanks again!!! All of this feedback has been very beneficial.