If you’re a new nurse or have taken some time away from work, you’re probably facing that all-too-familiar Catch 22: You need experience to land a job, but no one will give you one so you can create the track record they want. Short of setting up a clinic in your spare room, how can you break this vicious cycle?
One route: volunteering
“I think volunteer experience looks good on anyone’s resume,” says Susan Centola, recruiter at Emerson Hospital in Concord, Mass. “When I see it on a nurse’s resume it tells me that even though she may not be able to find a job, she’s doing everything she can to gain experience in her field.”
And there are more reasons to consider volunteering, especially for new nurses trying to chart the ultimate direction of their careers. According to ServiceLeader.org: Volunteering can be a way for you to rediscover what originally drew you to nursing. It can also serve as a powerful renewal tool. Think back to the things that drew you to nursing in the first place – you can find volunteer positions to express these motivations. Volunteering can help you get back in touch with what is important to you. What are your passions? What drives you to want to help? Use these passions and motivations to guide you in your search for volunteer opportunities. You can find positions to use the skills you already have or to develop new ones.
Travel the globe or stick close to home
Healthcare volunteers play a huge role in disaster relief, and Doctors without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) regularly recruits nurses and physicians to provide aid in nearly 60 countries. Today, there is an urgent need for nurse midwives/certified midwives and operating room nurses.
Other relief organizations around the world
- The International Medical Corps (IMC) works in 26 countries, providing emergency disaster relief. Generally, medical volunteers are required to donate from two to eight weeks of their time.
- M.E.D.I.C.O. , which provides free medical, dental and optometric care and educational services to people in developing countries, has an urgent need for nurses.
- The Red Cross is always looking to fill its ranks of healthcare volunteers. To acquire the necessary training, contact your local chapter.
If you’d rather stay a little closer to home, consider volunteering at a local school, community clinic, nursing home or blood donation program (usually through the Red Cross.)
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