Nurse Keith: Nurse Volunteerism – Enhancing Life and Career

Nurse Keith: Nurse Volunteerism – Enhancing Life and Career

No matter at what point you find yourself in your nursing career, it’s never too early or too late to volunteer. Even a retired nurse can leverage his or her skills to benefit others; there’s really no time in a nursing career when you cannot imbue your life with more purpose and meaning through volunteerism.

Nurse volunteerism in your community

Nurses tend to be givers, and, like many citizens, nurses like to give back to society through volunteer activities.

As a nurse, you have the option of volunteering for an organization that can utilize your clinical skills (e.g.: The Red Cross or Doctors Without Borders). You can also choose to volunteer for an organization that simply needs helping hands (e.g.: the local soup kitchen or animal shelter). Volunteerism feels good, it looks great on your resume, and it brings more meaning to your life.

Volunteering shows commitment to making a contribution to society and taking an interest in your community. Volunteerism can be a great networking opportunity, and it can help you to feel more well-rounded as a person.

Nurse volunteerism in the workplace

Some nurses choose to volunteer for initiatives or committees within their workplaces; this can be for the purpose of demonstrating commitment or initiative as an employee, or perhaps for opportunities related to learning new skills, acquiring new knowledge, or strengthening your resume. Magnet or quality improvement committees are commonly of interest to nurses, as is being involved in mentoring programs and the precepting of new nurses.

If, for example, you have talent with computers and you’d like to explore healthcare IT before committing to a degree or certificate program, you can volunteer for your facility’s IT department; this will allow you an up-close view of the internal workings of IT through direct exposure. Based on your volunteer experience, you may be offered a paid position, or you may decide to earn an advanced degree in information technology. In this type of scenario, workplace volunteerism can specifically influence your next career move.

Volunteer for life

Volunteerism can be workplace-based, or it can take place within specific organizations, be they local, national, or international. You may staff a phone bank for a political party, walk dogs at the shelter, do first aid for a walk-a-thon, or provide nursing care to the homeless with a local outreach team.

On the other hand, volunteerism can be wholly private and personal. For example, you may simply choose to spend an afternoon each week with an elderly neighbor who likes to play cards, or who needs someone to run errands or take out the trash. Your volunteer activities can be official, unofficial, high profile, or under the radar.

Choose forms of volunteerism that work for you and your lifestyle, and that bring you joy, personal growth, professional opportunity, and a good feeling inside. No matter what you do, volunteer doing something you love, and you just can’t go wrong.

Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC is a holistic career coach for nurses, award-winning nurse blogger, writer, podcaster, speaker, author, and popular career columnist for With two decades of nursing experience, Keith deeply understands the issues faced by 21st-century nurses. Keith’s two podcasts, RNFM Radio and The Nurse Keith Show, offer inspiration and practical support to nurses seeking to create meaningful, satisfying lives and careers. Keith’s message of savvy career management and professional satisfaction reaches tens of thousands of nurses worldwide. He can be found at

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