Can a high school student volunteer at a hospital?

April 28, 2021

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

Click here for 2021 shadowing opportunities

Teenagers who are interested in pursuing a career in medicine often wonder: can a high school student volunteer at a hospital?

The answer is yes, you can volunteer at a hospital while you are still in high school. However, there may be some restrictions as to what your role and placement will be.

While there are many types of volunteer opportunities, given the privacy laws and responsibilities of a working hospital, it can sometimes be challenging to find hours within a health facility, especially at a young age.

But there are opportunities for high school students to get experience in a hospital setting so that you can decide if this is the right career for you.

In this article, we will explain the rules around volunteering at a hospital while you are still in high school and how you can find the medical experience you need to stand out from the crowd. 

Why volunteer at a hospital?

A high school student volunteering at a hospital can get amazing experience for their resumes and college applications. This is especially important if you are planning to pursue a career in healthcare

Many colleges and universities ask students to list any relevant volunteer experience on their application. Volunteering at a hospital teaches you responsibility and patient care, but it also shows admissions officers that you are willing to give back. 

Additionally, if a high school student volunteers at a hospital, they’re able to start building important connections for future references and letters of recommendation.

We know how important hospital experience is for aspiring doctors, nurses, midwives, and physician assistants because that’s what we do at Global Pre-Meds. We provide hospital doctor shadowing and global health experience programs at international healthcare facilities. 

Our dedicated high school sessions offer age appropriate supervision for an amazing two weeks of healthcare experience that will help you build your portfolio. If you join us for our hospital doctor shadowing in the Dominican Republic, you will also receive a personal letter of recommendation from your mentoring doctor.

We also provide opportunities for our students to volunteer within the local community, as a way of getting to know the culture and doing something for the community that is hosting you. 

How to volunteer at a hospital in high school

If you visit your local hospital’s website, they may have a volunteer program that’s already in motion, which you can submit an application for. They will also have all their requirements for applicants listed on their website, so you can check if there are age restrictions.

Most hospitals will allow you to volunteer if you are at least 14 years of age, but some may place their age minimum higher. Additionally, you may have to pass a background check and/or get permission from a parent or guardian. 

Some hospitals ask that you have a flu vaccination and TB test, but again, it’s up to you to check with each volunteer program and hospital to make sure you understand what they expect of you.

Volunteer programs may ask you to commit to a minimum number of volunteer hours or a schedule, so just bear that in mind and make sure you read any stipulations in their volunteer application.

Every volunteer program is different, so you will have to see what your role is going to be. Sometimes you can apply for a specific role or you may just have to be open to whatever they need. Because you are not a medically trained professional, you will not be performing any procedures. 

Some roles for high schools students volunteering at a hospital could be greeter, information desk, clerical assistant, mail delivery, dish washer, or patient care assistant. You may be working with other volunteers, depending on your role and the number of students. 

You will be working in a professional working hospital so you want to treat this like a job. Be on time every day and make sure you understand all the rules, which will likely be explained to you during your orientation. 

Make sure you wear comfortable but professional clothes, although you may be given a uniform of some sort. Bring your water bottle and a snack if your day is going to be long. You can always ask your volunteer coordinator if you have any questions. 

How to find hospital volunteer opportunities

If you are a high school student who wants to volunteer at a hospital, you can start looking for programs  in your area. Visit the hospital website and check out their options.

You can also try searching for hospital volunteer opportunities near you. Or try search engines like VolunteerMatch where you can specify what kind of hours you’re looking for. 

If you are not able to find volunteer options in a hospital, but you still want to get medical experience, there are some alternatives for you to consider. 

You can shadow a doctor that you know, or apply to a curated doctor shadowing program like ours at Global Pre-Meds. These programs are also sometimes available to apply for on hospital websites, or you can contact physicians you know and ask if you can observe them. 

You could also volunteer in public health organizations like the Red Cross, which has a Red Cross Youth Program you can read more about. 

College admissions officers also look favorably on volunteer hours at a hospice, or elderly facility, as you are learning how to take care of patients. Some students even volunteer to take care of a family member as a way of getting some medically related experience.

Don’t be afraid to get creative. And if you have any questions or are still struggling to find opportunities, reach out to your high school academic advisor and they will likely have some suggestions for you. You can find many ways to gain healthcare experience that are not directly through hospital volunteer gigs.

However, if you are wondering if a high school student can volunteer at a hospital, we also urge you to consider our hospital doctor shadowing and global health experience programs at Global Pre-Meds. You can learn more about our high school sessions here