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Volunteerism is the act of an individual giving one’s time and talents to those who are in need of assistance which is typically in the form of an unpaid service provided to a charity or other type of organization that serves vulnerable populations. Volunteerism has a direct impact on the community by building and strengthening partnerships and relationships and by serving those who are less fortunate.
Through volunteerism, meals are delivered to homebound seniors and homeless individuals, streets and parks are cleaned for children to safely play, youths are mentored and counseled, public health and safety initiatives are implemented, and awareness and education are provided.
For students who are in nursing programs, they can provide important services within the community by being volunteers while also gaining valuable knowledge about how to serve in public service roles.
Not only does volunteerism benefit those in need, but it also benefits in multiple ways those providing the services. For example, student nurse volunteers can have improvements in self-confidence and experience a heightened sense of life purpose by donating their time and talents to helping others. Through their voluntary efforts, they directly see how their actions can impact those in need and this builds personal character, value, morals, and ethics.
Volunteerism can also increase a person’s appreciation of the meaning of life and the importance of healthy living. Partaking in volunteering can lead a student to have an expanded desire to advocate and educate others on preventative and promotional health measures related to public health initiatives. Participating in volunteer activities can be inspirational and increase levels of happiness; it can also have a direct impact on mental health and reduce levels of stress, which all student nurses experience! Volunteer opportunities can be fun and instill a sense of thankfulness for one’s own existence and increase fulfillment in life and self-purpose.
Student nurse volunteers receive career experience and a deeper insight into the profession they are pursuing. Volunteering can also provide them with opportunities for future projects and educational involvement with community partners and affiliates. Often internships can be offered to those who have volunteered their time within an organization previously. Volunteers are able to gain very valuable knowledge about the profession, professional organizations, and future community needs through these activities and about organizational functioning and professional practice through working alongside preceptors and mentors.
Student nurses who participate in volunteer activities show community leaders that they are engaged and active in helping the community. Through these efforts volunteer nursing students also make strong connections that can assist them within their future careers and professional goals. Valuable personal, educational, and professional skills can develop through these opportunities; these activities help in extending one’s social skills and in community networking. Volunteering allows for one to be directly involved with community leaders and key persons that may lead to future opportunities for learning, growth, and career opportunities. These relationships can be key when students receive their degree and are looking for a job.
Through volunteering students can also develop an improved understanding of health care organizations and their direct impact on the communities they serve. Volunteers are exposed to the inner workings of the health care organization, the style of leadership in place, the organizational chart, and how the organization internally and externally functions within the community and partners it serves. This experience is vital in gaining an enhanced understanding of functionality and community strengths and weaknesses. Understanding the intricate details of organizational functioning is a valuable experience on multiple levels for student nurses and is important within the nursing profession to understand the role the organization of interest plays within the community and how the community is impacted by the services the organization provides.
Volunteering can help by building upon communication, teamwork, critical thinking, and problem solving skills that are necessary for success in nursing and public health programs. Through volunteer activities, a student can grow in his or her social and communication skills, public speaking abilities, and ability to collaborate with others. These are valuable skills for those seeking nursing and health care degrees. Partnering with an organization within the community and networking with key persons within the profession can increase cohesive community relations and can provide extensive training and individual opportunities for contribution to society and the nursing profession.
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And if you are considering pursuing a nursing degree, we invite you to find out more about Kaplan University's School of Nursing and explore our undergraduate and graduate degree offerings.
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