Working with hospital volunteers

Nurses General Nursing


Tonight's my volunteer shift on the postpartum & newborns unit at the local medical center. I'm wondering what are your experiences, as nurses, working with volunteers? Are they really really helpful, or can they be more trouble than they're worth? Any tips for me (and other volunteers) in how to make your lives easier?


377 Posts

Specializes in Neurology, Neurosurgerical & Trauma ICU.

Hi Chris!

First of all....thank you for making the decision to volunteer! Volunteers really are an important part of making a hospital work, and work smoothly.

Personally, I find that the volunteers I've worked with are very helpful. I only deal with the ones that work the shared waiting room for my ICU and the ICU next to ours. I'm always very appreciative when they help the families find what they need in the hospital (ours is HUGE and is easy to get lost) and when they do their job and check with us before visiting. It never fails that something happens right before visiting and we have to hold off visiting for a little while! :uhoh3:

Anyway, enjoy your time there, and don't be afraid to ask questions!

Specializes in Med/Surg, Ortho.

I agree totally, volunteers take a big load from not just nursing staff but ancillary and clerical staff. We utitlize volunteers to help escort patients from the hospital on discharge, they deliver mail, man the reception desks, make pharmacy runs, on and on. We appreciate the hard work of volunteers and wish there were more willing to help.

Thanks again for your desire to lend a hand.


151 Posts


I am so glad to see this thread because I AM a volunteer in the ER at a major hospital in Florida. I must say that I have been treated well at times AND treated like CRAP! More on that in just a moment...first a quick explanation as to WHY I am a volunteer.

I was an engineer before I became a full-time stay at home mother. I raised my children to school age (BTW the HARDEST job I have EVER had) and then decided that I wanted to go back to work, but not in the Engineering field. I absolutely LOVE people and have always been intrigued by medicine so I chose NURSING! I am currently finishing up my pre-reqs and will apply to nursing school in December.

There is a shortage of EXPERIENCED nurses right now...NOT freshly graduated inexperienced ones. It made sense to start as a volunteer, and as I await acceptance to nursing school, I intend to challenge the PCT test so that I can work as a part-time PCT while in school.

In the meantime, I work one 4 hour shift per week as a volunteer. There are some nurses/doctors that I immediately knew had an appreciation for volunteers. There are others that pretend that I don't even exist!! I mean...literally LOOK THROUGH ME if I am in their field of vision or NOT ANSWER when I speak to them! I find it pathetic... On my second shift EVER , one of these nurses tried to blame something on me and referred to me only as "the volunteer" repeatedly, right in front of my face. I defended myself (respectfully) and tried to just blow it off.

I am an intelligent (3.8 GPA), educated, hard-working, compassionate, genuinely good person! How dare you treat me like an idiotic lump of crap? I am here to LEARN, and to work my butt off which actually happens to make YOUR job easier! I care about every person that comes through the door, when there is NOTHING (monetarily) "in it" for me! If I had the chance I would tell these people all of this AND give them one last piece of advice: "Beware...the toes you step on today MAY be connected to the REAR you might have to kiss tomorrow!"

Please...treat your volunteers well and don't work on assumptions that they are idiots. After all, one of us MAY end up being your boss some day! :eek:

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