April 22, 2014
Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.
Not everybody can pack up their bags and head off on overseas volunteer assignments. There could be several commitments that act as restrictive factors to travelling abroad for long periods of time. However, this does not mean you have to give up all thoughts of volunteering. There are several opportunities available with the UK itself and a good place to start is with the NHS.
At any given time, there are thousands of volunteers in the NHS. They play a vital role in the organisation and are often a key part of patient services, working in a variety of settings and providing a wide range of services alongside healthcare professionals.
NHS Volunteers are involved in diverse services ranging from befriending, mentoring and peer support to working in hospital cafes, assisting with minor maintenance and helping with recycling. They may help greet patients who are admitted to hospital and do everything to make sure they are comfortable, cared for and all of their needs are met. They may also help dress or feed patients who are unable to do so themselves.
In addition to helping healthcare volunteers gain new skills and experience, it can also provide a stepping stone to paid employment.
Why volunteer with the NHS?
Every individual has their own unique motivations for wanting to volunteer for the NHS. Some wish to volunteer because they would like to explore a career in healthcare or because they would like to develop or maintain specific skills or experience. Others choose to volunteer because they want to give something back to an organisation that they or their family may have benefited from. Some may choose to volunteer with the NHS in particular because they want to help develop and improve specific services that they think are lacking.
Routes into volunteering
There are various routes to finding volunteering positions in the NHS. The simplest way to do this is by browsing the jobs section of the NHS website, where they routinely advertise for certain voluntary roles. The other alternative is to contact the HR department or the local NHS organisation in your area for details on available opportunities.
In most cases you may have to go through an informal interview and you may also be required to undergo a criminal records bureau (CRB) check before being taken on as a volunteer in the NHS.
There are several opportunities to develop your career in the NHS
Irrespective of where you start within the NHS and whether you are a paid staff member or volunteer, the organisation is committed to offering learning and development opportunities for all full-time and part-time staff working with them. When you sign up as a volunteer with the NHS, you will have access to training facilities and be given every opportunity to progress within the organisation. As part of the Knowledge and Skills Framework (KSF) you will be encouraged to extend your range of skills and knowledge and take on new responsibilities. Every year, you will also receive an annual personal development review and development plan to support your career progression.
Outside of the NHS, there are several other national organisations that are usually on the lookout for volunteers. Check out British Red Cross, The Samaritans, St. John Ambulance, Macmillan Cancer Support and Women’s Royal Voluntary Service (WVRS).