RN Volunteering Opportunities - Serving Others from the Heart
One of the main reasons you became a nurse was to help others. Even so, there are times when paperwork, politics, or just plain nursing burnout makes you want to serve humanity in a more direct way. Volunteering can be a way to participate in meaningful work and renew your commitment to the profession.
Volunteering can also allow you to continue practicing on a limited basis when other obligations (like family) take you away from a full-time nursing position.
Serve in International or Local Disaster Zones
Despite its "American" name, the American Red Cross is involved in helping people around the world. Many RNs volunteer with the Red Cross, when special needs arise or with ongoing efforts such as blood drives. The Red Cross also provides volunteer opportunties for nursing students, which - if you have the freedom to do so - is a wonderful way to fuel a lifelong passion for helping humanity. Doctors Without Borders is another well-known organization that works with RNs in the field and in their corporate offices.
There are several organizations, like Volunteer Forever and Volunteer HQ that provide short-, medium-, and long-term volunteer experiences for healthcare professionals. They match you with projects that need your expertise, and they provide orientation and guidance. For many RNs, a situation like this is a wonderful way to spend a "vacation." Depending on the scope and funding of the operation, you may be required to use your own funds for traveling and lodging at your volunteer location. However, in many cases the length of your volunteer experience is flexible and will work with your employment situation back in the U.S.
Work in a Local Hospital
Volunteering in a local healthcare facility may seem strange to nurses who are used to working full time for a regular salary, but there are some facilities that will welcome credentialed RN volunteers, chiefly because of budget limitations. If you want to serve a population that is desperately in need of your help, or if you want to become familiar with new protocols or technologies on your own schedule, it's an option. You may also consider volunteering in areas that are not strictly nursing-related, such as pet therapy, working with veterans, or visiting with geriatric or pediatric patients.
Mission and NGO Work
There are almost endless options for nurses who wish to volunteer their skills. Some are faith-based; some are more secular, such as NGO's (non-governmental organizations) like Project Hope that delivers medical supplies and expertise in response to disasters and to promote wellness worldwide. Project Hope has many opportunities to serve in the field, some of which include teaching at hospitals and clinics in underserved communities. Much of their work is international, but they also help out in US-based crises, such as hurricanes, floods and fires. With wildfires spreading across the western US and hurricanes battering the East Coast, there is no shortage of opportunities for nurses to be part of their lifesaving efforts.
Many of our travelers report that the flexibility of travel nurse jobs allows them to feather in the volunteer work that is close to hearts with the lucrative assignments that support their mission.