Volunteering is a non-paid role that provides students with opportunities to impact their community. Many pre-health students often assume that all of their volunteering should be clinical or health-related; however, that is not the case! A strong combination of clinical and non-clinical volunteering will demonstrate to health professional schools that students have passions outside of healthcare.

For any programs or organizations in which students choose to get involved, quality of the experience is more important than quantity. Volunteering with three to four different organizations throughout college, one or two being clinical and one or two being non-clinical, is a great start. Throughout your volunteer experience, think about whether you see yourself becoming more involved, such as pursuing a leadership position within the organization. Longevity of experiences is key to an impactful experience, both for you, and for your community.

Clinical Volunteering

Clinical volunteering typically involves roles in which students are directly interacting with patients or serving in patient-facing environments.

clinical volunteer

Some examples of clinical volunteering include:

  • volunteering in the emergency department (or in another hospital department)
  • becoming a camp counselor for individuals with disabilities
  • volunteering in a hospital arts and crafts center for pediatric patients
  • serving as a ‘baby cuddler’ in the neonatal ICU
  • serving as a hospice or end-of-life volunteer

When it comes to clinical volunteering, many volunteer roles are unique. It may be difficult to determine whether volunteering is clinical or non-clinical. If you are questioning your specific role, think about your day-to-day responsibilities; if you are communicating with patients and/or their families, it is very likely clinical.

Non-Clinical Volunteering

There are LOTS of options for when it comes to non-clinical volunteering. Think about your interests or specific communities you’d like to impact. Non-clinical volunteering does not involve patient interaction.

Some examples of non-clinical volunteering include:

  • performing music for elderly individuals
  • social justice activism
  • becoming a sports camp counselor
  • working with teachers to care for preschool children
  • serving individuals who are homeless (i.e. soup kitchen, food bank)
  • being a tutor or mentor for younger students

How do you find volunteer opportunities?

If you are at an academic institution, consider joining a student organization! Many student organizations volunteer with specific groups or communities. Consider local or national organizations, such as AmeriCorps, RedCross, or Special Olympics. For students local to hospitals or clinics, visit their website to search for volunteer opportunities. Most often, searching online for volunteer opportunities related to your specific interests will provide you with results to look into further.