Thursday, March 12, 2015

Being the Best Volunteer

Are you a volunteer for a hospital right now? 
Maybe you are volunteering at a camp this summer? 
Are you applying to be a volunteer? 
Nervous about volunteering in a clinical setting? 
Here are some tips to becoming the best volunteer!

1. Realize that it's not all about you
Our human nature is to be selfish. We have our own timelines, our own stressors, and our own stories. But when you are volunteering, it's not about you. It's about the hospital. It's about the Child Life Specialist you work under. Ultimately, it's about the kiddos you meet. Shake off the crusty coat of selfishness before you walk into the hospital (or camp), and be ready to be the best listener, helper, or cleaner-upper you can be! 


2. Be willing to get dirty
As a volunteer, be ready for any of the following: getting puked on, receiving applesauce dumped on you, having paint spilt on your not-so-new pants, crawling on the floor to pick up trash, etc. The best volunteer is not afraid to get his/her hands dirty. The kids, teens, and adults will all love you for it. Your Child Life Specialist will appreciate it as well. 

3. Don't be afraid to say "No"
Sometimes the hardest part is saying, "No." Especially as a student, you think you need to have every volunteer experience and hour possible. While that is true to some extent, saying no is okay sometimes. If you have a really hard week of school or work coming up, it's okay to stay home and study or do what you need to do. The problem is when you have not adequately prioritized your time, and then you have to say no to a volunteering opportunity. This is when you sell yourself short of the opportunity, and you become unreliable. In order to be successful you have to practice responsible time management. 

4. Reflect on your experience.
Although you must maintain confidentiality and HIPPA regulations, that doesn't mean you cannot reflect on your experience in a confidential way. Were you inspired today? Did you find a new activity to do with a child that really worked? Were you able to identify developmental stages in children even though you are still in school? What was your favorite part of the day? How did volunteering today change your perspective on the week? Reflective learning has been proven as an effective means of learning. Keep a journal about your experiences because you can use them later in interviews or your practice as a Child Life Specialist. 

5. HAVE FUN!!! - Always go with a smile on your face, and we guarantee you'll have one when you're finished 

Do you manage volunteers? What advice do you have for students wanting to volunteer? 

Are you a student? What other questions do you have about volunteering? 



Brooke said...

Loved this! I'm hoping to be accepted into a volunteering program this program, and this is very helpful. Thanks for posting!