Are you thinking of becoming a registered nurse, but you aren’t sure if you’d really like it? Or maybe you are in high school and you are considering entering a nursing program, yet you’d like to get a little experience and see what the actual job is like.
If this is the case, what can you do?
We recently received a great question, and here it is:
I am a senior in high school and I am looking towards becoming a registered nurse. Can you recommend any ways to maybe volunteer or get in contact with a registered nurse?
Thanks for your question Brooke!
I think this would be a great idea, and I am glad you asked this. Volunteering at local healthcare clinics or speaking with current nurses is a great way to know what you can expect once you become a nurse. It can also be a great way to add some experience to your future resume or nursing school application. Since my mother was an LPN, I was able to volunteer some at her work. This was long before I even graduated high school, and I did use that experience on my nursing school application.
Most health organizations (hospitals, clinics, etc.) allow people in the community to volunteer for some tasks. Also, many larger organizations or hospitals will have “shadowing” programs. This is where you work alongside a nurse (ie, you’re their shadow), and you can see exactly what they do during an entire shift.
Here are some tips to help you find a way to volunteer or gain experience with nursing.
How to Shadow or Volunteer as a Future Registered Nurse
I’d recommend you first try to get an idea of where you’d like to volunteer or shadow. Try to pick a place that you’d perhaps like to work when you graduate with your RN degree. This way, you may be able to make contacts and establish “connections” that could help you secure a job down the line.
Ideally, you should pick a well-established organization (such as a large hospital or clinic).
Once you select a hospital, clinic, or other healthcare agency, the next step would be to call them and ask to speak with their Human Resource department. Human Resources (often abbreviated “HR”) is the area that usually does the hiring, firing, and so forth. They should be able to tell you what opportunities are available, and if there are any requirements to volunteer or shadow.
Depending on what you want to do, they may require a certain age limit. Some may also perhaps require CPR or other certification, but in most cases, someone in your age group should be able to shadow without meeting too many requirements.
It is also possible that some may require that you sign a few papers, just in case anything happened during the volunteer work. In either case, the “HR” worker should be able to let you know what they can.
Considering Employment In Healthcare
One other option I’d like to mention is that there are often plenty of part-time positions within the healthcare industry, and this would be a great way to actually earn money while you also gain experience and make connections.
A CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) is often a popular position for future nurses, and it usually isn’t very hard to get certified. Even if you don’t want to work as a CNA, there are also positions available that require little or no experience. When I was in nursing school, one of my friends worked just 1 day a week at our local hospital delivering food trays to all of the patients.
Most hospitals have flexible shifts and employment opportunities, which can be great for those only working during summers, or only want to work a few hours a week while attending school.
Another benefit to consider is that, if you aren’t currently getting scholarships for college, many hospitals and large organizations will offer a paid-tuition program. These programs are great because the hospital usually offers to pay some or all of your tuition as long as you sign a contract and agree to work there for a certain number of years after graduation.