How to overcome anxiety/stress at the hospital you volunteer for


Sorry for not finding a better title for this topic! So I started volunteering for a hospital not long ago and it was a little shocking to me. Don't get me wrong, I'm ok with blood and everything, but I was shocked to see people with breathing tubes and all the other medical equipment wired to them. I have never in my life stayed at a hospital; maybe that's why it came a little shocking to me. But I felt so bad about the people lying in those beds and so helpless, not being able to help them much. I was kind of anxious on my first day and sometimes my mind would go blank. I know it might sound pathetic to some people who are obviously more experienced than me, but I know it's a completely normal reaction. I just don't know how to deal with it. Please give me some advise!! :(

Specializes in ICU.

I guess I have been a patient myself a lot so that stuff doesn't bother me. Maybe you could find somewhere else to volunteer at just to get your feet wet. At the hospital where I volunteered a few years ago you could work front desk, gift shop, surgery, run labs, labor and delivery, or the pharmacy. A lot of the men were drivers. I would check and see if you could go somewhere else for a little bit til you got used to it.


1,302 Posts

Specializes in NICU. Has 8 years experience.

A lot of the equipment used at hospitals can be quite daunting. Don't worry about feeling overwhelmed! Honestly, your feelings are NOT pathetic, but demonstrate good observation of your environment and the knowledge that there is a lot going on for patients and their families at your hospital.

You can use your feelings to better identify with patients--if this is overwhelming for you, imagine feeling sick and being the one actually attached to the equipment. Having empathy and understanding for patients can help them heal as long as it is kept in appropriate boundaries.

Ask a lot of questions--staff may not be able to discuss patient diagnoses, etc., but explaining equipment is well within bounds.

Also understand that even for nurses there is a learning curve, nobody is expected to know everything at once. More will come with time.

Most importantly, look for the faces under all the equipment, that is why you are there :-). And thanks for your service. Volunteers rock!!


69 Posts

Heathermaizey, I haven't thought about applying for a non-nurse related volunteer position because I really wanted to familiarize myself with the daily activities of a nurse and the structure of the hospital as a whole. I think if I work in the gift shop, for example, I wouldn't really observe that. Besides, the hospital I volunteer for is one of the best in the state, so I would definitely want to be closer to a specific unit. Thank you for your prompt advice though!!! :)

hikernurse, thank you for the encouraging words! ^_^ And yes, I should definitely ask more about the equipment. I hope that with time my anxiety goes away ...