Volunteering and its surprising personal and professional benefits – Part 3

October 14, 2014

Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.

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Getting the most out of your volunteering experience

Gap Medics student learning how to take a patient's blood pressure. When you actually start looking for volunteering opportunities in the healthcare field, you’ll be amazed at the sheer number of prospects out there. Don’t get overwhelmed by it all. The best way to get started so that you get the most out of the experience is to look for opportunities that best match your personality and your area of interests. Finding something that you are capable of doing and that you will enjoy are absolutely essential otherwise you run the risk of getting frustrated and giving it up before you can actually make any significant contribution. It is equally important to make sure that your level of commitment matches the needs of the organisation you are volunteering with. 


Having answers to these few questions below will help you keep your search more focused and narrow down your options.



Consider several different possibilities

When looking for the right volunteer opportunity, don’t make the mistake of restricting yourself to just one particular type of job or one organisation. Some opportunities may sound inviting at first, but the reality may be quite different. Before you make a decision, spend some time visiting different organisations and get a feel for what it would be like working with them. Do you think you will get along with the other staff and volunteers? The more satisfied you are as a volunteer, the better your contributions and the more likely you are to continue volunteering.


Getting the most out of the opportunity

You are donating your valuable time as a volunteer, so it is important that you enjoy the experience and also benefit from it.

Look for opportunities that are closest to the career path that you are planning on pursuing. When you have shortlisted a few opportunities, prepare to ask a few questions to narrow down your list. 

The best way to make sure that the experience is right for your goals, your skills, and the time you want to spend is to ask the right questions. Ask questions about the amount of training involved if any, who you will be working with or reporting to, what is expected from you and the time commitment required from you.

Make sure you know exactly what’s expected from you. Before you start, make sure you are comfortable with the organisation, understand the time commitment and know what is expected. If this is your first time, consider starting small so that you don’t over commit yourself and are not overwhelmed.

Don’t force yourself to fit in. If it is not working out, speak to the organisation about changing your focus or consider looking for another opportunity. Don’t hesitate to make change because you feel you’ve wasted your time. Chalk it up to a learning experience instead. 


Most importantly, enjoy the experience and make sure you’re having fun!