Everyone should get involved and volunteer in some capacity, as it is a rewarding and very beneficial activity for both the volunteer and the recipients. As a nursing student, there are many benefits to giving a little of your time to a worthy cause.
Benefits of Volunteering
As a volunteer nurse, you will have the opportunity to enhance and learn new skills while helping others. If you seek out different opportunities, you will have the chance to broaden your horizon and learn more about other cultures. This will enhance your ability to understand your patients’ individual beliefs and respect their values. Being respectful is essential in nursing and truly understanding a groups’ beliefs and customs will aid you in being more helpful and meeting your patient’s needs. You can also share your experiences and knowledge with your co-workers.
When volunteering, use every opportunity to network. For example, if you volunteer at a hospital, try and get to know the nurses and the manager, as this may be a way to land your first job. While in nursing school, I volunteered at an adult medical surgical unit at a local hospital. I really wanted to volunteer on a pediatric unit, so while I continued at the local hospital, I also searched for other opportunities and was able to find a great opportunity. I volunteered at a Child Rehabilitation Center, where I had the chance to directly care for and interact with the children and observe them during their rehabilitation routines. I learned a great deal and met many healthcare professionals along the way.
Enhance Your Resume
When you are entering the field of nursing, you want your resume to stand out. Volunteering shows that you are a dedicated professional willing to use your skills and time to assist others in need. The experiences you gain are great to use when answering interview questions, as it will demonstrate that you have had direct care experiences outside of the classroom environment. Volunteer opportunities help new nurses develop confidence and increase your chances of being selected for a nursing job.
Selecting the Right Volunteer Activity
While volunteering is very beneficial, you must be realistic about your ability to take on another commitment. While in school, you must learn to carefully manage your time. When selecting a volunteer activity consider what you are agreeing to commit to, such as whether the activity is a one time or an ongoing commitment, the population you will be serving, and if you will be challenged to learn and step outside of your comfort zone. You don’t want to overextend yourself or set yourself up for failure. Take on a smaller project while you are in school and save larger, more time-consuming activities for later when you can dedicate more time to the cause.
Some students are able to travel during their semester breaks to serve in countries where healthcare is lacking, especially for the poor. I was not able to commit to this while I was in school, as I was working extra to pay for the next semester. However, I did have an opportunity at a later time. After working as a pediatric nurse for a few years, I joined a mission trip to the Dominican Republic where I worked as a recovery room nurse for patients who had eye surgeries. It was a very humbling and eye-opening experience. It was frightening to see how few resources were available and the trip made me well aware of how lucky we are in the U.S. and how so many others are in desperate need of assistance.
Each time you volunteer, you will gain a sense of satisfaction, as you are able to witness how you truly made a difference for another person. Everyone should give back and help others. Volunteering just formalizes your commitment to assist others. Please consider becoming involved and see what a rewarding experience volunteering can be.