Volunteering your time and services can make a difference in the lives of others, while yielding significant personal and professional benefits. It is an opportunity to contribute to the greater good, while learning new skills, becoming more marketable and enhancing your health and well-being. Numerous nursing volunteer opportunities exist across the United States and abroad.
The Benefits of Volunteer Work
In return for helping others, nurse volunteers receive a host of benefits.
- Enhanced Health and Well-Being
Although more studies are needed, evidence suggests volunteering contributes to health and well-being. An article in the Harvard Health Blog, points to a correlation between volunteering and feeling more socially connected, which can help abate loneliness and depression. It can also improve physical health by reducing blood pressure and increasing lifespan. A nurse does not need to contribute a substantial length of time, either; volunteering for as little as 100 hours per year can yield health benefits.
- Improved Opportunities for Employment
Volunteering can help make you more marketable and give you an edge when seeking opportunities with top facilities. “Volunteering as a Pathway to Employment,” a report by the Corporation for National & Community Service, notes that volunteering is associated with an increased likelihood of finding work, regardless of such factors as age, ethnicity and job market conditions.
- Exposure to New Experiences
Is there a certain nursing specialty you are considering but are not sure if it will be a good fit? Volunteering gives you an opportunity to test-drive different career paths and learn new skills without making a full-time commitment.
Opportunities for Nurse Volunteers
Nursing volunteer opportunities vary in skill set and time commitment — from a few hours a month at a facility near your home to several months abroad. Organizations desperately need medical volunteers both in the United States and overseas.
According to the World Health Organization, 400 million people worldwide — most living in impoverished countries — lack access to healthcare. There are disadvantaged and vulnerable populations within our own nation who also can benefit from nurse volunteers. These include the elderly, homeless, hospice residents and the uninsured. Nurses also provide essential services during times of natural and man-made disasters. The American Nurses Association recommends that nurses pre-register if they are interested in volunteering during times of crisis instead of waiting for disasters to strike.
Where Nurses Can Find Volunteer Opportunities
Volunteer opportunities for nurses exist in abundance. A great way to find a match is networking. Often, one of the best ways to find volunteer opportunities is through your own professional network. Asking your co-workers about their own experiences can make you aware of different organizations and available jobs.
If you are seeking a local position, The Leadership Center at the University of Texas at Arlington maintains a database of ongoing and short-term volunteer opportunities for students. A cross-section of organizations — including schools, ministries, nonprofit organizations and nursing facilities — are represented. VolunteerMatch.org lets you search for opportunities by location and area of interest, such as Health & Medicine, Seniors or Crisis Support. Databases like GoAbroad.com and WorkingAbroad.com let you search for international opportunities.
Are there nursing homes, hospices, hospitals, churches or other groups in your area who might benefit from your services? Ket Davis, a registered nurse and clinical instructor at UTA, volunteers service hours in the Health Care Ministry of a local church. There are almost unlimited opportunities in the Dallas-Fort Worth area for nurses who want to volunteer their expertise, skill and time.
Nonprofit and government organizations dedicated to helping the underserved are often in need of medical volunteers. A few of these include Doctors without Borders, American Red Cross, the Peace Corps and United Planet.
Volunteering your time and services, even if for a few hours a month, can have a huge effect on the health of a population and yield benefits within your personal and professional life. An abundance of nursing volunteer opportunities exist both within the United States and abroad for those who want to contribute to the greater good. Because the online RN to BSN program at the University of Texas at Arlington College of Nursing and Health Innovation is flexible, you can make time for volunteer work while earning your BSN.
Learn more about the UTA online RN to BSN program.
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