It’s no secret that nurses make a difference in the lives of the people they serve. But you don’t have to wait until you finish nursing school to start helping others. Even student nurses can do a lot to help the less fortunate, or those affected by natural disasters and accidents, through volunteer opportunities at home and abroad.
Volunteering gives student nurses the chance to work alongside experienced nursing veterans, build new nursing skills, and learn more about the profession and their options for making nursing into a career. In addition to valuable hands-on experience, volunteering can help nursing students find a deeper sense of meaning and purpose in their own lives. Perhaps most important of all, volunteering allows student nurses to offer hope and comfort to those who are vulnerable and suffering.
Learn More About the Nursing Profession
The more hands-on experience you can gather during nursing school, the better equipped you’ll be to deliver top-notch nursing care once you graduate and enter the work force. Practicing nursing tasks will certainly be a big part of what you do at nursing school, but when you take advantage of volunteer nursing opportunities, you’re getting field experience that puts you in touch with working nurses, physicians, and patients.
When you volunteer at a blood drive or an emergency shelter, for example, you’ll get the opportunity to meet working nurses from all backgrounds. You’ll meet nurses who work in civilian hospitals, nurses who work at military hospitals, school nurses, and private practice nurses, to name a few. While you’re learning basic nursing skills from working with them, you’ll also have the chance to learn more about the different career options you’ll have and what you need to do to get into a particular field of nursing.
Find Meaning and Purpose
Research shows that volunteering your skills to help those in need can help people of all ages and from all walks of life achieve a sense of purpose and find deeper meaning in their own lives. Volunteering while in nursing school can help boost your confidence and can even give you the physical strength and stamina you’ll need to make it through those grueling study sessions. Studies suggest that helping others is an even more powerful antidote for feelings of depression and low self-worth than social support alone.
Give Comfort and Hope to Patients at Home or Abroad
Many volunteer nurses travel abroad to help increase access to medical care for people living in underdeveloped nations. Often, people in the developing world lack access to the basic amenities Americans take for granted, and that includes even the most fundamental of health care basics like vaccines and first aid.
As a volunteer nurse in the Third World, you can help bring relief and comfort to elderly, disabled, and young people. You can nurse malnourished children back to health or care for children orphaned by the HIV/AIDS epidemic of sub-Saharan Africa. In addition to providing basic health care like vaccines, you could help further the cause of public health by offering basic health education relevant to the area.
But you don’t have to leave the country to find plenty of volunteer opportunities as a student nurse. Volunteer nurses are always needed whenever there’s any kind of disaster, ranging from an earthquake to a train wreck or a fire in an apartment building. In some cities, like San Diego, there’s a single-family house fire almost every day.
Things don’t have to go wrong for volunteer opportunities to open up. Volunteer nurses are always in demand to help with events like blood drives or to offer care to the community through free clinics. Groups like the Red Cross, the American Cancer Society, or the American Heart Association always need volunteer nurses to help with various events.
Your activities as a volunteer student nurse don’t even have to involve nursing care; you might collect used eyeglasses to redistribute to the less fortunate, or help make blankets to send to a disaster area.
Volunteering as a student nurse is an excellent way hone your developing nursing skills and gain field experience, and it can also help you forge relationships with working nurses who can teach you more about opportunities in the field. Through volunteering, you can make a real difference in the lives of those you help — and increase your own sense of self-worth and confidence at the same time.
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