What’s so great about volunteering?

By | 2016-08-24T02:52:09-04:00 June 28th, 2016|1 Comment

Have you heard that volunteering is a great resume-builder for nurses? It’s true. And there are many more good reasons to incorporate volunteerism into both your personal and professional lives.

Resume building

You probably don’t want to volunteer if your only motivation is to build your nursing resume, but if there’s a cause you care about, there’s nothing like volunteerism for demonstrating something about your interests, passions, personality and community engagement to potential employers. While hiring managers don’t necessarily read every detail of your resume, having a section dedicated to volunteerism or community service shows something important about who you are.

For new graduates or nurses very early in their careers, volunteer positions can help to bolster a resume that feels a little scant, especially if the nurse is young and doesn’t have previous professional experiences to share.


As a nurse, you want to be consistently building your professional network, so volunteering for causes you care about can put you in touch with people who share your interests.

If you’re passionate about fighting breast cancer and you volunteer for a local breast cancer awareness group or walkathon, this will help you meet others with whom you have something in common. You never know where such relationships may lead.

Leadership development

Nurses often like to take charge and get things done, and many organizations will welcome a nurse with open arms. Gaining experience in leadership, delegation, organizational development or supervision is a skill set that is directly applicable to nursing. New nurses or nursing students who want to cut their teeth in relatively low-risk leadership roles may find volunteer positions helpful in learning the ropes.

Skill transfer

Depending on the type of volunteerism, you may find many skills learned on the job as a volunteer to be directly transferable to nursing and healthcare.

As mentioned above, skills related to leadership and organization are certainly applicable. You also may be surprised when certain skills learned along the way as a volunteer find a home in your nursing bag of tricks.

For instance, tutoring middle school students in science may help you find better ways of explaining certain concepts to the nursing students who precept with you. Meanwhile, doing a medical mission to a developing country may profoundly alter your nursing practice in ways that you cannot predict.

Finding meaning

Although there are many more good reasons to volunteer than one short article will permit, finding meaning in life is a reason that cannot be overstated.

As healthcare providers, educators and leaders, we nurses see and learn so much in the course of our careers. While we can, of course, find meaning in nursing, it’s also important to seek meaning outside of the workplace, and volunteerism is a powerful avenue for such. From walking dogs at the shelter to serving meals at the soup kitchen, volunteerism feeds our souls.

Feel free to build your resume and skills through volunteerism, but don’t be surprised when your heart, mind and spirit also benefit greatly from the experience. •

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About the Author:

Keith Carlson, BSN, RN, NC-BC
Keith Carlson, BSN, RN, NC-BC, is the Board Certified Nurse Coach behind NurseKeith.com and the award-winning blog, Digital Doorway. A widely published writer, Keith is the author of “Savvy Networking For Nurses: Getting Connected and Staying Connected in the 21st Century.”

One Comment

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    Amara Taylor September 14, 2016 at 8:13 am - Reply

    Thanks for making a topic that generally is assumed to be and highlighting the many rewards and exciting possibilities that are truly available when you volunteer. I began volunteering online with an organization who advocates and empowers others with disabilities after being diagnosed myself. By volunteering, I not only learned coping skills but gained a sense of enlightenment as well. It was one of the best decisions I have done in regards to my nursing career and my personal well-being physically and mentally.

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