The Importance of Nursing Volunteerism
"A volunteer is a person who can see what others cannot see; who can feel what most do not feel. Often, such gifted persons do not think of themselves as volunteers, but as citizens—citizens in the fullest sense: partners in civilization."
–George Herbert Walker Bush
As a collective, nurses have much to offer our communities. Whether our nursing skills are more clinical or administrative in nature, we hold a vast resource that can—and should—be put to good use to make a difference.
Although you do not receive monetary payment for your service, the benefits of volunteering outweigh the investment of your time and energy. Consider the experience of Denise York RNC, CNS, MS, Med, a fellow faculty member in the college of Nursing. She writes, “I have/had taught CPR for many years for the American Red Cross. In 1992 my husband had a sudden death episode and had CPR administered by a layman and a doctor which saved his life.” Even though the people involved in saving Denise's husband had not taken her specific course, she reaped the reward of another selfless volunteer who had taken the time to train her husband's caregivers. Compound the impact of each CPR and First Aid instructor across the nation and we literally have hundreds of thousand of everyday people trained to potentially save a life—perhaps the life of your child or grandchild, neighbor, friend or spouse.
The sense of satisfaction that comes from making a difference in the life of someone is its own gift. From my own experience volunteering at a homeless health clinic, it is very rewarding to get to know the people and see that little things can make such a remarkable difference in their lives.
Think of the thousands of volunteers who help each year in the wake of Mother Nature's fury in the form of floods, earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes. Many of these volunteers have no other skill than the willingness to help another in need. And there is definitely no shortage of need—at any given time—in each of our communities. If your Nursing skills are adminstrative, put them to use coordinating resources during a disaster or negotiating with businesses to donate medicine or supplies. Clinical nursing skills can be used to fill the ever-widening void between the need and resources available to provide basic health care in schools, clinics or other non-profit agencies that serve people in need.
Again, whether your skills run more toward the administrative or clinical side of Nursing, I challenge you to find an organization or cause with which to add your skills and expertise. To get started, contact your local chapter of The American Red Cross. They are chronically in need of volunteer CPR and First Aid instructors, as well as having volunteers at the ready in case of a catastrophic event in the United States or across the globe.
If each nurse does something to help, to make a difference in his or her community, think how much better our lives, our nation and our world would be.