As Liam Neeson would say, nurses have a very particular set of skills; skills they have acquired over a very long career. Nurses are some of the most sought after volunteers; not just in crisis situations like hurricane or epidemic relief, but in many everyday settings such as pregnancy centers or local homeless shelters. That’s because nurses aren’t just your average volunteer worker – their medical training allows them to help in ways non-nurses can’t, and this expertise is especially valuable for organizations in need of volunteers for human aid.
- Work in an area you’re passionate about.
Whether that area is in South America, or just down the street at the Children’s Hospital, volunteering allows you to use skills that you might not need at your day-job.
You could even find that you’re passionate about another specialty through volunteering, for example: after volunteering at a Children’s hospital, you could feel called to pediatric care after having worked for years in another unit. Or perhaps you’ve always wanted to work with children, but found volunteering as a way to gain experience in order to become qualified for a new job in PEDs.
Volunteering can not only help nurses find their passion clinically, but providing such a selfless service to another person is profound, and is a reward in itself.
- Fill a gap on your resume with relevant work experience.
If you’re in between jobs for whatever reason, take this as an opportunity to give back and help your future job prospects. You might be searching for another nursing job in the meantime, or you could be taking a break from work to raise children – but whatever your circumstance, practicing in a volunteer capacity will keep your skills sharp and your resume full.
- Be an example to others.
Nurses don’t do their jobs for the admiration; they do it because they love helping others. The same sentiment goes for volunteering, which ironically gives nurses a natural disposition to share their skills with those in need. Even though they aren’t trying, medical aid workers are an inspiration to everyday people, and often motivate the masses to find their own unique skills to help others.
- It’s easy to get started.
If you’re planning to volunteer in a deployment capacity that will send you to a relief situation somewhere else in the world, the act of getting there can be difficult. However, signing up is a fairly simple process, even for the most elaborate volunteer opportunities.
The American Nurses Association and the Red Cross have ways you can register, get pre-verified and validated for a volunteer response system. These response systems are at the worldwide, national and local levels, and can be scaled back to meet the needs of the individual nurse’s family/employment situation.
Don’t be overwhelmed about getting started if you want to be a volunteer – many nurses have gone before you, and the process is already streamlined.
Life gets busy – especially if you’re “adulting” by doing things like paying bills, sending kids to school and running a household. Many people think, “I want to volunteer, but this just isn’t a good time in my life to make that commitment.” These are noble thoughts, but really ask yourself: why not now?
If your reasons don’t hold up as well as you thought, then maybe it’s time to take the leap and choose a volunteer opportunity. Any volunteer can lift boxes or sort cans, but only a nurse can provide direct medical care.
WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO BE A VOLUNTEER NURSE?
Share your plans on how you'll start in the comments below!