4 Things I Learned Volunteering in a Hospital

Image Credit: jimdo.com

Image Credit: jimdo.com

During my college career, I did a lot of volunteering. It was my bread and butter, really. I enjoy meeting lots of people, and I like that I’m helping out and (hopefully!) leaving a positive impact.

As a result, one of my favorite volunteering programs was UCLA Care Extenders, where you volunteered at a hospital; getting a glimpse of a lot of different departments, helping out within a medical setting, and meeting a lot of different people. It’s really a source of many fond memories, so I thought I’d share a few of the volunteering epiphanies I had while on the “job,” so to speak:

1. You have a responsibility—if you’re not there to do your duty, it won’t be done.

This is big. When I volunteered as a supervisor, there were a lot of extra tasks (and people) I found myself responsible for. I enjoyed the role, and I very much believed that a job is only worth doing if it’s done well. However, when you’re more of a big picture person like I am, it’s easy to lose track of all of the extra details.

One of my biggest disappointments (for myself, anyway) was failing to help out at an event I had committed to simply because I wasn’t careful enough with my schedule. Even though I had a reason, the fact remains that my absence had to be compensated for.

2. Be aware of what you commit to.

As you might have gleaned from No. 1, I had a tendency to bite off more than I could chew. It was a habit of mine: I wanted to be helpful anywhere and everywhere, and if that meant signing up for ten million things, so be it!

That’s always a bad idea. It’s great that you want to go above and beyond, but it’s important to remember that the more tasks you take on, the more your other responsibilities tend to suffer.

In my case, once I learned that I had a tendency to overlook details, you can bet I started working on how I could better keep track. It involved a lot of highlighting, which looked a little cluttered, but I needed to do whatever I could to make sure I was on top of things.

3. Putting yourself out there is only the first step; you have to follow through.

One of the most important qualities a Care Extender needed was the ability to be proactive. As a volunteer in a hospital department it fell on you to, well, volunteer for tasks. Doctors and nurses may have an idea of what you can do, but only you can make them aware of what you are fully capable of—no sitting around waiting for them to give you something to do!

It isn’t enough to introduce yourself and hope the impression sticks. Consistency is key. Once you’ve put yourself out there, it’s up to you to remind them that you can do these jobs and are, in fact, very good at doing them! Soon enough they’ll start tapping you for tasks without any prompting from yourself, and that’s really a thing of pride. It’s a great feeling to walk into a department and know that the staff trusts you’ve got their back.

4. On that note, don’t take things too personally when they don’t quite go your way.

Everyone has bad days, or times when they’re not going to be in the best mood. This might lead to disagreements, misunderstandings, or just people generally being curt with you. At the hospital, this might even happen more often than not, as most hospital departments are understandably stressful.

It was a little hard for me to shake off bad days, even though I understood that staff members and patients alike were under a lot of pressure. But in the end, you’re here to do what you can, as best you can. In the case of the hospital, it’s the patient that really matters. If your best just doesn’t seem to cut it one day, that’s okay—there’s always next time.

About Jessica Morales

Jessica is the Marketing Director & Publisher of NWYT. With a Bachelor of Science in Anthropology and a minor in Music History, she is an avid reader, less frequent writer, and altogether just loves to hear a good story. To that extent, her field of study may have been slightly influenced by a certain movie archaeologist. Read more about her here. See All of Jessica's Posts

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