Written by Laura Panozzo
Health care experience is important, but probably not in the way you think!
We prefer to stress quality over quantity, so we don’t require that applicants complete a certain amount of hours, but we do note if you have taken something valuable away from that experience. Perhaps you learned that you have an endless capacity to provide empathy and support, or that you lean in instead of looking for a way out in a traumatic situation. The amount of hours isn’t as impressive as the lessons you will carry forward into your nursing education and career.
So you shouldn’t feel pressure to complete a large amount of hours should your current situation make it difficult to do so. Life is stressful as it is! Gaining health care experience should be an enjoyable part of the process, not something that brings more stress. If your schedule allows for a single four or eight hour volunteer shift a week, that is still an extremely valuable amount of time for you to get the experience you need to know you are on the right path!
Not sure where to start?
The clinical health care landscape may be difficult to navigate in terms of finding volunteer positions, but you can still gain great experiences outside of the traditional setting, for example by helping your local community and some of its most vulnerable citizens.
Here are some great places to find volunteer positions:
- Local, non-profit clinics – These could be free medical clinics, mobile health clinics, etc.
- Local organizations – Think about the populations of patients you are most interested in. These can be women’s shelters, after school youth programs, food banks, homeless shelters, senior citizens centers, Boys and Girls club, National Suicide Prevention Hotline, etc.
- American Red Cross – Local blood drives are usually looking for volunteers!
- Still in College? Look into your student community outreach organizations or philanthropic fraternities – connect with your Student Activities or Student Engagement Offices for more local resources.
- Tap into your network! If you or your support system has connections with health care employees, set up a time to get coffee and chat about their experiences or shadow a shift if available!
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