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A hospital volunteer works without pay in a hospital or clinic setting. In the United States, volunteers play an important role in the day-to-day running of medical facilities, helping free up more time for medical staff to get on with medical-related tasks. Duties of volunteers vary widely but may include basic clerical or administrative duties, providing support or directions to visitors, visiting with patients, transporting items from unit to unit or helping in the hospital gift shop. Due to health legislation and insurance liability, volunteers are prohibited from performing medical tasks. Before applying to be a volunteer it is important to assess whether you possess the necessary strengths.
A Desire to Help Others
A desire to help others is the most essential strength required of hospital volunteers. While on shift at the hospital you must be willing to put others' needs in front of your own at all times. You should be prepared to meet and help people from all walks of life and to treat them with equal amounts of respect.
Good Organizational Skills/Commitment to Accuracy
Many volunteer positions in hospitals involve basic clerical duties such as answering telephones, filing, data entry, typing and running errands. If you take this sort of position, it is important you are well organized and able to multi-task. New York Presbyterian Hospital stipulates accuracy as an important strength for clerical volunteers to possess.
As a hospital volunteer you will be expected to commit to a minimum number of shifts or hours per month. Hospitals vary on their requirements, but it is important that you can always be counted on to show up, or to let your supervisor know as soon as possible if you can't. At USC University Hospital in Southern California, for example, volunteers are required to work at least 75 hours per year, amounting to two hours per week, while at New York Presbyterian Hospital a minimum of four hours per week is required for the first six months.
An important role volunteers play in hospitals is looking after patients' relatives in the Emergency Department and on other wards. For this you need a high level of compassion and empathy. As pointed out by New York Presbyterian Hospital on its volunteer information page, volunteers are there to ensure patients and their families that someone is concerned about their emotional and social needs. How the volunteer treats them has a "significant impact on the individual's perception of the ED and hospital experience."