Volunteer Work Experience

Back when I was in high school, I volunteered at one of my local hospitals once or twice a week after school. Although every high school in the States is different, my high school made volunteer work mandatory. Essentially, each grade had to meet a certain number of volunteer hours by finals week and seniors were not allowed to graduate until all hours (including unfinished ones from previous years) were completed.

To be frank, I forget the specific number of hours required in each year, but fewer hours were required for freshmen and the number of required hours increased with each grade. At first I joined my friends in volunteering to pick up litter in local public spaces and volunteering at neighborhood events, but later on in my junior year I decided to look for a new activity.

I don’t quite remember how I got the idea, but I became interested in volunteering at St. Mary’s, the closest hospital to my house. Another girl and I were the only teenagers at the information session that I went to, and we both ended up signing up to become volunteers. We didn’t attend the same high school, but we became friends quickly and we were both assigned the same shift.

On our first official day as volunteers, we got our candy-striped vests and security badges, and we were told that we would start off transporting patients from their rooms to different departments like radiology, or we would sometimes transport patients from the ER to a new room. To be honest, some days weren’t so busy (since there were also paid transporters), so we would end up spending most of the time sitting in the volunteer office or in the hospital cafeteria during our break. Some of the patients we transported, especially those who were in the hospital for extended periods of time, seemed happy to talk to people other than doctors and nurses, so we enjoyed making small talk with the patients as we transported them.

Eventually we were taken off of transport duties and moved to help out in post-op where patients were sent to recover after surgery. Our duties changed slightly, although we did transport patients who were being discharged to the hospital entrance. For the most part, however, we were tasked with making sure all of the bed areas were supplied with clean linens and pillows, checking and stocking medical supplies at each station (alcohol wipes, cotton swabs, etc.), and wiping down surfaces with disinfectant when necessary. If there was a patient recovering, we also were asked to check on them and see if they needed anything like another blanket or a cup of ice.

Volunteering in post-op was definitely more interesting, and overall I really enjoyed the time I spent as a hospital volunteer. I think it was a good experience and it gave me a chance to interact with a variety of people. Although I started volunteering in order to complete a school assignment, I decided to continue during the summer after graduation until I started university. Ultimately, I think volunteering is a great way to build compassion for others and it also is a good chance to meet people you normally wouldn’t.



mandatory (adj.) ? required
to be frank (phrase) ? honestly
litter (n) ? trash in a public or open space
candy-striped (adj.) ? clothing with alternating stripes of white and pink
radiology (n) ? department for x-rays
disinfectant (n) ? chemical that destroys bacteria