Where (and how!) to find nurse volunteering opportunities


iStockphoto | ThinkStock

iStockphoto | ThinkStock

Many nurses feel that volunteering is a vital extension of their careers. For some, volunteering begins before your first nursing job and continues throughout the course of your career. Some nurses even choose to volunteer after they officially retire! Additionally, volunteering is often cited by nurse job recruiters as an important part of a new nurse’s resume that can set candidates apart from those who do not have volunteer experience.

But no matter what stage of your career you are in, it can still be difficult to know where and how to find volunteer opportunities. We turned to our Facebook fans to ask about their volunteer experiences and how they found them. Check out their answers, including inspirational stories of how volunteering not only helped careers, but also became a fulfilling part of their lives, below.

If you are looking into volunteering in hospitals in your area, be sure to check out our Nurse’s Guide to Hospitals for more details and contact information!

Volunteering can help you land that job!

Camp Oasis! I volunteered at the camp for children with Crohn’s and UC. I had previously volunteered as a counselor and when I got my nursing licenses, I used it wisely! I have volunteered there for five summers, three years as a nurse. It definitely always sparks good conversations when I’m being interviewed for a potential job!
– Caryn Lynn

I was a volunteer at the school where my twins attended. I was there so much, for all physicals, teeth, etc., that they asked me to be their school nurse. Dream job for mom with elementary school children. Loved it and my boys were proud.
– Connie Noonan

Pediatrics and surgery! I am now an OR nurse because of my time in surgery!
– D’Ann Ybarra

How to find volunteer opportunities: Just ask!

My first volunteer experience was with hospice. I just picked up the phone and called to see if they needed volunteers!
– Jen Edwards Buhrman

[I volunteered] through the American Red Cross as a teen, on a medical mission to Russia’s Gulag region, for high school sports physicals, teaching CPR through both the Red Cross and American Heart Association, with the National Ski Patrol System, with the elderly at my church, and on the street…all by asking, “How can I help?”
– Gail Koski Drake

Camp Twin Lakes. Just walked up and asked the director if I could volunteer and he set it up. It was so much fun! I gave disabled kids rides on paddle boats and ran game stations.
– Krissy Conger Berger

Where to find opportunities: Look to your local community

I volunteer as a paramedic with the local fire department and have since 1985.
– Bobbi Counts Gearhardt

[I] signed up with local county health clinic.
– Susan Lionetti Pruitt

By joining the state nursing association. My region was going to a local soup kitchen. We set up, helped out and spoke to the community about diabetes and other health concerns.
– Mary Ellen Levine

I went on a two-week medical mission trip in Brazil and served the people who live in villages along the Amazon River. I also have been the health officer at my church camp during the summer. Both of those missions are associated with my church and that’s how I got involved with them.
– Mary Van Arsdall

National organizations consistently offer opportunities

[I] went to Haiti after the earthquake. There are many, many opportunities local and far. Nursing specific websites are great for finding specific organizations. United Way and Red Cross are good places to start locally, and many churches have parish nursing volunteer opportunities.
– Julie Peddicord

Red Cross, Women’s Crisis Shelter, March of Dimes, Relay for Life. I didn’t know it helped with job positions, I guess. I wouldn’t mind volunteering in another country.
– Misty Johnson

Look abroad

I had the incredible opportunity to go with a med/surg team to Ghana, Africa. I recovered patients after surgery. An absolutely life changing experience.
– Renelle Gubler Johnson

I had my first service as a Red Cross Volunteer when Typhoon Juan hit our place. It made me who I am right now because it molded me to become more resilient and made me more comfortable dealing with different personalities in the community setting, which is really helpful now that I’m assigned in a community base work here in Isabela, Philippines as registered nurse for health enhancement and local service (RNheals).
– Jevany Ubando Bartolome

Start early

When I was a freshman I volunteered at a hospital and was placed on the maternity unit. I packed the free diaper bags with complimentary items, went room to room offering refreshments to the new mothers and fathers; little, non-clinical, comfort things.
– Eileen Palmer Stewart

[I] volunteered at a hospital when I was 13 with my BFF. Now, we are both RNs. ; )
– Stephanie France

Other opportunities you may not have thought of

I’ve volunteered at several music festivals and love it. It’s always an interesting mix of traditional medical people and holistic practitioners. I learned so much and got to listen to great music. The worst thing I saw was dehydration, sun burns and stumped toes. It was a great way to pay it forward. Most festivals have websites and list volunteer jobs on them.
– Mardi Senn

Nurses, do you volunteer? Have you in the past? Do you think your volunteer experiences have helped you during job searches? Share your thoughts in the comments below!


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