Are You Volunteering For You or Just For Show?

  1. I was curious to know whether nursing schools look at the amount of time an applicant has been volunteering at a hospital prior to applying for admission. The reason I ask this is because I know there are surely some people out there who are just volunteering (as stated in the title) "for show" - to "pump up" their credentials for nursing school admission. Then there are others like myself who started volunteering long before applications were due to see whether or not the nursing profession is something they really want to pursue, liked it and stayed on. For me, the fact that this experience would also look good on my applications is a secondary benefit that I (seriously) did not even think of until I started looking into applying to school.

    By the time I will have submitted my first nursing school application (this November), I will have been at my volunteer position a total of 8 months. I was just curious to know whether that is a respectable amount of time to be volunteering without anyone thinking that I just did it to improve my chances of getting accepted into a program. I would assume anyone who started volunteering a few weeks before the application was submitted would appear less credible, but not sure.

    Anyone already accepted into nursing school with volunteer experience please chime in, thanks for all replies.
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    About PacoUSA, BSN, RN

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  3. by   Coriander
    This is an interesting concept. I began volunteering with a hospice in March when I was close to having to have my application in. I waited this long, because the reason I wanted to volunteer was that my Grandmother had recently passed on hospice, and there was a recommended time to heal afterwards. I was also a fulltime student and didn't have the weekends available for training because I also worked fulltime.

    My volunteer time wasn't even noted except in a cover letter I wrote, and I don't particularly care if it's noted on my rollover application. I volunteer for myself, as a way to give back to the wonderful people who helped my Grandmother through her last days. I also volunteer because working in hospice is an interest.

    I'm pretty sure that nursing schools may look at this and say "Whoa they JUST started volunteering." however that's why there is a minimum hour requirement (at least at my school).
  4. by   bluechick112
    I've been volunteering for years outside of a hospital setting. Once I decided on nursing I stopped volunteering so as to take prerequisites. Then I started volunteering again at a hospital and used it to explore the different areas (Emergency, Peds, Renal, etc.)

    I wouldn't say that I started volunteering "just for show" as it's something that I enjoy doing to feel out the different fields, but it certainly does help to have it on your resume. Most schools don't take how many months of volunteering you've done into consideration (actually I've never heard of a school doing that). Instead, it's based on the number of hours you've racked up over time. I'd say that in general, if you have over 150 hours of volunteer work you're pretty good application-wise. It depends on the school.
  5. by   Chris99mu
    My school of choice does not require it but I am doing it for a variety of reasons, most of which are stated above. I am starting next month, so by the time I apply, I will have just shy of 10 months volunteering. However, my school of choice doesn't even look at anything besides your county of residency, your TEAS score and your GPA. No letters of rec, no volunteering, NOTHING. But, here are my reasons:

    1)because I think if you are able, you should. No matter where you are in life
    2)to really help solidify an already present desire to work as a nurse and in the healthcare industry
    3)to help round out my resume and give it some medical field experience
    4)to potentially "get my foot in the door" since I have seen so many posts here about nurses not finding work
    5)to potentially give me some of the "experience" that employers are requring new grads to have but almost always lack (catch-22)
  6. by   Ickles
    I originally decided to volunteer when I made the decision to return to school to become a nurse after already being out in the workforce. I did it to make sure this was really, really what I wanted to do, and it was also suggested to me by an advisor. One year later and I have completed the hours required for a letter of reccomendation, yet I couldn't bring myself to leave and have stayed on for another rotation (another 13 week committment). The only reason why I am stopping at that point is because I am pregnant and will not be able to commit to it anymore.

    I love volunteering, and can't believe I haven't done it until now. I love talking with the nurses, helping out whenever I can. Once I have my baby and begin the waiting period to apply to nursing schools, I plan to go back and volunteer some more, if not at a hospital then another organization that has a need locally.
  7. by   MsAsia322
    ive always wanted to be a nurse and i knew that going into volunteering. so i cant lie and say that i didnt volunteer for show .. i volunteered to not only put myself in the nursing setting, but to also have a more well-rounded application for nursing school. i definitely believe that schools look at ur extra-curricular activities and base their decisions on that as well as ur academic perfomance. so why not give myself some credentials? im just saying ...
  8. by   Brighten
    To be honest I started volunteering because I needed the hours for certain schools. I actually thought it was going to be a good experience too because I can see what the profession is all about but the volunteer coordinator gave me the worst choices for where I can volunteer because the damn high school kids took all the good stuff. Lets say its been 6 months of lame, boring, useless stuff that I don't think they should even make you do for your application.
  9. by   Abby Normal
    I started for a variety of reasons.

    One of them was to say I'd done it. Sure.

    But I'm definitely getting a lot out of it, and I knew I would when I started. I am learning so much about the job I'm going into learning by example about the kind of nurse I want to be (and a few behaviors I don't want to take home, unfortunately), learning how I interact with people. Every day I go in I learn something. Hardly ever about nursing, but about relating to patients and staff in that setting.

    This hospital also really helped a family member. So it's an honor thing.

    The hospital I work at has a minimum commitment, and mine is almost up and I plan to go past it. Not sure by how much, as my schedule is so crazy, and there are so many other things I want to do before I start my program.

    It's clear your commitment to volunteer is real, but the fact that other people do it too, and their motives may be more mixed, shouldn't diminish the purity of your commitment.
    Don't worry about anyone else. Focus on what you've learned, on your own experience, and how it will help you become a better nurse. That's the only thing you can control.

    I have to tell myself stuff like this all the time.
  10. by   lightsnoise
    Depending on the hospital and what they let you do, volunteering can be a complete waste of time. For one, if you're actually doing legitimate (i.e., not pushing patients around in wheelchairs or doing "work" at the information desk) volunteering work then I think it can be useful. But for the most part, since you're a volunteer, the jobs that they can let you do is pretty minimal. I mean you are not going to have any sort of direct patient contact due to the possibility of you acting as a vector and spreading nosocomial infections...and if they do let you do's pretty much nothing. Thus, a complete waste of time. On the other hand, if they do let you volunteer in lets say a med-surg floor, you can get an idea of how hectic and stressful the environment really is and it kind of gives you insight on what a day may look like. But in my experiences, 99% of the time I feel like I am in the way of a nurse, a doctor,a cna, or a custodial worker when I am volunteering...
  11. by   MsAsia322
    lightsnoise - i agree.... when i was "volunteering", they had me sitting at the desk helping out the unit clerk with paperwork... oh yea and i answered the phone - whoopdy doo. everynow and then i got a chance to ask some questions that the nurse seemed to not wana answer. the only "staff" to really pay me any attention and knew why i was there were the LPNs. they were really nice and even showed me a few charts.
  12. by   Elle_Guerira
    I volunteer because it gives me that constant reminder -- that motivation if you will -- why I am pursuing a healthcare career in nursing (and my eventual goal of becoming an NP). I have been volunteering at this non-profit clinic's Health Ed dept. for almost two years now and am loving every moment of it :heartbeat. I love the fact that I'm helping to prevent teen pregnancy and STIs within the community. If I don't volunteer, I dunno, I just feel incomplete.
  13. by   FutureNurse81
    For the show!