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Volunteer Your Way into a Health Care Career

Think volunteering in a hospital won't land you much beyond a candy-striper's uniform and a few pats on the back? Think again! Volunteering can be a great way to get the experience you need to launch your new health care career. In fact, when accompanied with the right career training, rubbing elbows with working professionals could be your "in".

Real World Experience: Health Care Volunteering Pays Off

A multitude of health care facilities have designed volunteer programs specifically for those interested in pursuing health care careers. For example, one Maryland hospital offers two "mentor" programs: one for high school students and the other for students enrolled in a vocational school or career college. Programs like these provide real world experience that prepares you for a real world career.

Volunteering is also a great way to learn if a health care career is right for you before investing too much academic and professional training. Maybe considered a career as a pharmacy technician? How about a career as a nurse? Call your local hospital and ask about volunteer or mentor opportunities in these fields. Most hospitals offer mentor programs in a variety of clinical departments, like physical therapy, lab, and nursing.

If you decide to go the volunteer route, be prepared to make a minimum time commitment. Most have minimum requirements, usually about five hours of volunteer time per week.

Degrees in Health Care

Volunteering can be a terrific way to identify your interests in heath care without spending the money and time it takes to explore them in the classroom. So many students change majors more than once don't play into this statistic. Volunteering will give you a sense of what health care careers you'll love (and which ones you'll hate).

Try to find a program designed specifically for vocational technical students. It's a great way to get practical experience while you pursue a degree in a health care related field. You'll find degree programs in a variety of health care disciplines, from registered nursing and nursing assistance to physical therapy and radiology.

Don't forget to consider paid opportunities. Depending on your background and experience, you might be able to earn a bit of money while you explore a potential new career path. So start researching your options in careers and degrees in health care there are more choices than you might have expected.

Source
Howard County General Hospital, Wellness Matters, Volume 10, No. 4, Winter, 2007.

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