Clinical Center welcomes back volunteers
"It could lead to something you never expected"
April is National Volunteer Month, and a great opportunity to give back to the community. If you're looking for a chance to volunteer that could be just steps away, check out the NIH Clinical Center's Volunteer Services Program.
After pausing the volunteer program during the pandemic, the hospital is welcoming volunteers back onsite.
"We are so excited to have our dedicated volunteer corps back serving in various capacities at the NIH Clinical Center," said Vivian Blair, the hospital's chief of the Office of Hospitality and Volunteer Services.
"Volunteers provide valued support to NIH Clinical Center departments in customer service and program assistance."
In a large organization like the Clinical Center, there are hundreds of ways that people can contribute. From helping new patients navigate their first visit to the hospital, to bringing resources to patients too sick to leave their hospital bed, to helping families settle in for long visits as their family members undergo extensive treatments to taking photos and writing stories for the hospital's communications, volunteer opportunities are extensive and varied.
In 2019, the year prior to the pandemic, there were 120 volunteers who contributed 9,800 hours of service, the equivalent of five full time employees.
"We are always looking for warm, dependable and empathetic people who have a sincere interest in helping patients, families and visitors," said Marcus Means, the volunteer coordinator of the Office of Hospitality and Volunteer Services.
The program places volunteers in hospital administrative departments, inpatient units and outpatient clinics. Volunteer opportunities focus on customer service and clerical duties and provide direct and indirect services to patients. The Clinical Center doesn't offer research or laboratory focused volunteer opportunities at this time.
Potential volunteers are welcome year-round, Monday- Friday from 6:30 am to 4:30 pm. For summer volunteer positions, the Volunteer Services Program encourages people get their applications in by April to ensure a timely placement.
Volunteers must be at least 16 years of age, fluent in English and willing to volunteer on an ongoing basis for a minimum of six months, unless other arrangements have been made. All volunteers go through the Clinical Center orientation to understand hospital emergency procedures and comply with Joint Commission guidelines on infection control, patient safety, confidentiality and privacy.
Robert Burleson, a volunteer with the Office of Communications, has been a Clinical Center volunteer since 2018.
"From 2012 through 2017, I had been in a study at the Clinical Center and came in two or three times a year. Since I had almost always worked in medical publications, I took an interest in Clinical Center News, the NIH Record and The Catalyst (three NIH-based publications) and in May 2018 was accepted as a volunteer," said Burleson.
"The Clinical Center is a great place to get involved with. New patients are arriving every day needing assistance getting oriented, and volunteers are right there, helping out. Some retired, former employees have come back as volunteers and the volunteer program managers keep in touch - they don't forget about you," he added.
"This experience has not only helped me transition into semi-retirement by keeping me active in this new phase of life, but also led me to a second volunteer relationship with a rare disease advocacy group. So, take this opportunity seriously. It could lead to something you never expected," added Burleson.
- Donovan Kuehn
* Disclaimer: This story includes a photo that shows staff without masks. This image was taken prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Face masks are required at all times in Building 10 since March 16, 2020.