Need help with finding volunteer work

Hello all -

I am looking into starting my volunteering (applying to med school after the Spring 2014 semester.)

Aside from working at the local hospital, what are some other volunteer things I could be doing? I read that some people work in labs and that others assist EMT’s. How do you get starting doing those things? I’m fairly new to the area that I live in so I don’t know many people.



There is no one thing that people can give YOU advice to do.

I think you should look for something that YOU are interested in doing. There is not one volunteer experience that you need to have on your application, you just need to show that you are doing something worthwhile and something you are passionate about and can talk about during the interview process.


Have you considered looking to see if any hospitals in your area have scribe programs? It’s basically like being a secretary for an ER doc; basically doing the exact same kind of scut work you’d do as a medical student or first year resident.

Have you tried asking?

Most hospitals have a volunteer coordinator. You can try asking him/her if you can volunteer at a lab or direct you to someone who manages a lab. It may be easier to start volunteering at a hospital (you’ll have to get clearance, ID badge, health screening, etc anyways) and then start asking doctors that you happen to meet during your shift.

Depending on what area you live in (I live in a suburb), you can go to the local ambulance service and ask if you could volunteer. They’ll sign you up for training (basic CPR, first aid) and you can start riding along in the ambulance. Most suburbs (due to funding) rely heavily on volunteers. I’m guessing major cities have a dedicated ambulance service but I’m not sure.

Or try googling “volunteer opportunities” and your location. There are many organizations that are constantly looking for volunteers since the turnover is quite high. You should not have a problem finding a volunteer opportunity. The more important question is (to Doc Gray’s point), what type of volunteer opportunity are you looking for? What type of volunteer opportunity is right for you? If you don’t know, try them out and see if you like it.

I would recommend you start earlier than later since it takes a while to get clearance at some hospitals or undergo training before you can start volunteering.

I volunteered at a hospital, ambulance service, and as an after school tutor.

One thing I did a long time ago was visit our church-bound members and their families while they were in the hospital.

Another volunteer thing I did was make and deliver meals to homebound people or those whom just had a baby, surgery, death, whatever the case may be. I really enjoyed that! I enjoyed visiting with the people and they were all touched by the visit. Or perhaps you can start a program like that

I must concur with Doc Gray about finding something that you are passionate about. I would suggest taking a look at what fascinates you about medicine/doctoring and use that, combined with your childhood interests and fascinations, to find a volunteer gig. What fascinated you when you were young/elementary school age. Often those early experiences still hold true and can energize you toward a particular type of volunteer interest.

Here are some examples of medically-oriented volunteer gigs:


Children’s hospital

Veterans’ hospital

General clinic

Free clinic

Specialty clinic


Nursing home/rest home care

Research lab

Needle/syringe exchange

AIDs/HIV work with an anonymous test site

Public health medicine at a public health clinic or project

Farmworker medicine at a farmworker clinic

Wilderness medicine at a resort or search/rescue

International health work with an NGO

But you don’t have to do something exclusively medical, there are lots of social-related volunteer gigs, and even they may have a medical-related side to them:

Homeless shelter

Women’s shelter

Social service organization

Disease-abatement/prevent ion work

Disease awareness work (e.g. medical advocate for a foundation)

Lastly, if you cannot find a medical or social-relevant volunteer work that you love, consider creating a volunteer gig of your own design or inspiration. And, don’t neglect your past experiences in guiding you. For example, when I couldn’t find a free local health project geared towards the unique cultural and language issues faced by the Latino community, I set one up. I also set up and run a free health clinic in Mexico as I live near the U.S.-Mexico border. Both of these are derived from both a childhood-based passion for other cultures and for desiring to amelioriate and meet the hitherto unmet needs of vulnerable groups.

I’m volunteering at my local free clinic as an interpreter. Still waiting to hear from the volunteer fire department so I can volunteer as a fire/emt. The clinic is awesome because each day I go it is with a different specialist. So far it’s been urology, ENT, and family med. All the physicians are volunteers. I also still volunteer at the detention center. There are plenty of opportunities to volunteer and give back. Tell people and too many opportunities will present themselves.