Share your story! "Hospital Volunteering: The good, the bad, and the ugly"


I am inquiring into doing volunteer work at a one of the major hospital in my city and I've recently went in to submit my volunteer application. My goal for the summer is to commit 4-8 hrs/wk to volunteering while taking a cna class in July. The Coordinator at the Guest Services told me that I would possibly be place in the ER since it coincides well with my schedule.

I understand due to liability, the duties of a hospital volunteer are quite restrictive, yet satisfyingly sufficient. My question to you all is, if I do get placed in the ER, what type of work do these volunteer perform and what might one see while on duty? Also, I am interested in hearing your hospital volunteer experiences, the good, the bad, and the ugly (LOL). How beneficial was volunteering in determining your career path in life? How many years did you commit and etc...

classicdame, MSN, EdD

2 Articles; 7,255 Posts

Specializes in Hospital Education Coordinator.

we do not allow volunteers in that type of position, as they tend to allow curiosity to over-ride patient's right to confidentiality. Our volunteers are allowed to do clerical work only.

Another reason for no volunteers in patient care areas is that the volunteer is liable to be injured or get an infection. They do not have the training to be useful.

Has 2 years experience.

I should have a good answer for you in september I'm interviewing late august...


196 Posts

Specializes in Med/Surg, Float Pool, MICU, CTICU.

YAY!:yeah:Good luck to you!

It's been two months now and I love every minute of my volunteer experience! :redbeathe I'm down in the ER/Triage and my duties range from assisting with vitals, to transporting patients, to stocking supplies, making kits, and soo much more. Plus, I get to see a lot of interesting patients and conditions that either pass through the Triage or EMS brings them directly into the trauma area. Haven't seen any "House" worthy cases yet lol! I plan to continue volunteering throughout this school year until I start the Nursing Program if I get in next fall *crosses fingers*

A&Ox6, MSN, RN

4 Articles; 572 Posts

Specializes in Pediatrics/Developmental Pediatrics/Research/psych. Has 14 years experience.

I know this is an old thread, but I have volunteered in quite a few hospitals in many different positions.

My first volunteer experience, I volunteered 12 hours per week. I started each of my 4 hour shifts by rounding to all the patients in the hospital (approximately 200 beds) in a sort of patient satisfaction/advocacy position. When I finished, I would sit at the security/welcome desk in the lobby and assist visitors and others. The ambulatory surgery pacu would frequently call me up to their unit to manage phones because they were staffed by nurses and Drs only (no support staff).

The next time I volunteered, I was placed in the labor and delivery floor one day a week and the mother baby two days a week. On l&d, I usually stocked rooms, made beds, delivered samples to the lab, assembled charts, and answered phones. On busy days I would also answer call bells and direct traffic in triage. In the mother baby unit I spent most of the time in the nursery. I did the same things the pca did, except that for liability reasons, I was not allowed to be alone with the infants.

Last summer, I volunteered in two hospitals, and I was given four assignments. In one hospital, I was placed on the adult oncology floors and bmt floor. My job was to provide for comfort needs and help distract the patients. I was often asked to sit with dying patients who had no visitors. It was scary but inspirational.

In that same hospital, I also volunteered in the ED in the evenings. This is a very busy ED with a burn center, level 1 trauma center, psych emergency, urgent care center, as well as specialists in many unique fields. I got to set up for major trauma cases, accompany pts to the bathrooms, play with children during their procedures, sit with lols with dementia, and do many other patient related things.

In the other hospital, I spent one day a week in PACU where I did a lot of data entry, as well as escorting patients out and bringing them food or drink. I also was allowed to observe surgeries on slow days. The other day I assisted a nure manager in a chemical dependence unit. I rounded with her, attended meetings where I took minutes, did some research to improve EBP, and did some other projects re occurrence reports, med reconciliation, and falls.

Even though I know this does not count as "experience", I can say that each of these positions have helped my studies.

I am very comfortable speaking to patients. When we covered perioperative, most of the material was easy for me to remember because I saw it. During oncology, I remembered the side effects my patients had and was good at therapeutic communication questions. When I did psych, I knew the substance material already.

In order to maximize my experience, I always let staff know I'm a nursing student. They often will give you opportunities you otherwise wouldn't have. I think they also take you more seriously because they know you're volunteering ti learn something.