How Volunteering Can Help Build Your Nursing Career?

The current shortage of qualified nurses in the United States has led to high demand for nurses across the country. However, securing the first job post-college can be challenging. Most nursing shortages are concentrated in rural areas or specific specialties rather than metropolitan zones. Moreover, employers typically seek prior job experience on a resume before considering candidates for a position. This creates a cycle where gaining experience necessitates work first, but securing a job requires prior experience.

Volunteering plays a pivotal role in building your resume. It not only provides personally and professionally rewarding experiences, but also offers practical, real-life exposure. While it may not provide income, volunteering aids in securing your first job and enhances your college and scholarship applications. Additionally, it sets your resume apart from the competition and allows you to give back to the community, aiding those in need. Even nurses with established careers or those who have retired often opt to volunteer.

What are the benefits of volunteering?

Many individuals volunteer to give back and feel good, but for nurses, there are distinct career advantages that make volunteering a strategic choice.

The chance to explore options

Many nurses accept positions that don’t perfectly align with their goals or interests just to gain a foothold. Others seek fresh challenges but are uncertain where to begin. Volunteering offers nurses the opportunity to explore different roles or specialties without a long-term commitment. For instance, a part-time hospital nurse could volunteer at a local school to experience the role of a school nurse, enabling them to make a more informed career decision.

Network building

Volunteering enables nurses to broaden their network. A volunteer supervisor or co-worker could serve as a valuable reference or even lead to new job prospects and opportunities.

Skill building

Nursing is an ever-evolving field, demanding continuous skill development for even seasoned professionals. Volunteering offers nurses opportunities to apply and refine their expertise in distinct ways. For new nurses seeking to strengthen their applications for an RN to BSN program, volunteering can significantly enhance their prospects of admission.

Leadership development

Volunteer opportunities for nurses encompass more than direct patient care. Nurses can offer valuable perspectives to non-profit boards, emergency management teams, communication teams, and others, contributing unique insights to drive positive change and enhance public health. Moreover, nursing schools seek students with volunteer experience, as it demonstrates dedication to the profession and fosters exceptional leadership skills.

The chance to serve as an ambassador

Nurses who work outside traditional health care settings and engage with their communities have the opportunity to act as ambassadors for their profession. They not only educate but also inspire others about the essence of nursing. As the nursing shortage persists, creating a positive impression of the field can motivate like-minded individuals to pursue a career in nursing.

Watch the following video to know – what nurses talk about volunteering

Where to look for volunteer opportunities?

Volunteer opportunities abound in the United States and worldwide. In your community, seek volunteer positions at local clinics, emergency shelters, and non-profit organizations. Alternatively, connect with larger organizations and their local chapters, like the American Red Cross or the numerous nursing associations across the country, which can often direct you to available volunteer positions.

Where to look for volunteer opportunities if you’re in high school?

1. Volunteer at your local hospital

Many hospitals offer volunteer programs, typically involving application, TB testing, flu shots, and orientation. Volunteering at a hospital provides insight into the healthcare system and nursing. It’s important to note that volunteers primarily assist with administrative tasks, not specialized duties.

2. Shadow a doctor or a nurse

To gain firsthand experience of a medical care provider’s daily duties, consider shadowing a nurse or doctor. The summer presents the best opportunity for this, given the likelihood of a more flexible schedule. Shadowing involves closely following the healthcare professional throughout their day and potentially assisting with basic tasks. Look for volunteer opportunities through your high school or by reaching out directly to the organization or individual you wish to shadow.

3. Special summer programs

Many colleges, universities, and organizations provide summer volunteer programs for high school students. Engaging in these opportunities not only sets your college application apart, but also offers valuable career insights. It’s important to note that some programs come with tuition fees.

Where to look for volunteer opportunities if you’re in nursing school?

1. American Red Cross

Red Cross stands as one of the nation’s premier non-profit organizations and offers student nurse volunteers specialized programs. To join, students are advised to review the volunteer guide before reaching out to their local chapter with plans of meeting up with its volunteer coordinator for meeting up and volunteering opportunities. Furthermore, student nurses also have an option of training on nursing disaster response teams as part of this participation experience.

2. Intern at your local hospital or clinic

Consider volunteering or interning at your local hospital or clinic – while competitive, these roles offer great opportunities to build your resume while learning directly from mentors in your field. Look through your college career center or directly on their website; expect both an application process and interview phase before being selected to fill such positions.

3. NPO 

Many organizations that assist those in need, like shelters and spaces that offer basic health services, need volunteers like you who can offer basic medical assistance to those unable to receive it otherwise. Volunteer your services today at these non-profits by helping out those in your community who require basic health services but cannot access it due to various reasons.

Where to look for volunteer opportunities if you’re in nursing practice?

Are You an Accredited Nurse Looking to Expand or Give Back? Volunteer Opportunities Await Accredited Nurses Looking for additional nursing practice experience or want to give something back? Accredited nurses have many volunteer options available. A good place to look is local volunteer job boards or community organizations – volunteering may seem challenging with such busy lives as nurses’ schedules are tight but it still allows an opportunity to share skills with those less fortunate!

Where to look for volunteering opportunities abroad?

Numerous organizations provide opportunities for volunteerism abroad. High school and college students as well as accredited nurses can find programs suitable to their skill set and interests, making for an interesting way of combining training, travel, resume building and an international experience with professional growth in one. You will gain new perspectives as you discover foreign cultures as well as different practices within medical fields worldwide.

Over to you

Volunteering offers nurses of any specialty the chance to expand both their career prospects and gain personal fulfillment from giving back. Before questioning why it makes sense for you to volunteer your services free, consider all its advantages before giving back to your community.

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