Volunteering your time shows potential employers that you are an involved citizen, one who cares for others, and demonstrates your ability to be a good team player.
If you are a nurse with a disability considering how to get back into the workforce, volunteering is the best way overall to refashion yourself into a nurse whose skills, not disability, are noticed. By honing in on compensatory skills and refining specific job related skills, a volunteer can gain the experience and confidence needed to compete successfully in today’s job market.
If you have been a homemaker and want to return to work as a nurse with a disability, do not underestimate the skills you have developed while running a home and managing child care. You have likely become very time managed, organized, financially adept while all of these skills contribute to your competence as a volunteer. This is a good way to get started in getting ready to return to work.
There are many benefits of volunteering. Volunteering will:
- Show others you can do the job
- Keep your resume current while your “new contacts” list grows
- Build confidence in your ability
- Increase your physical stamina
- Develop and refine your job skills performed as a disabled person; help you learn new ways to perform new and old tasks or, volunteering helps you learn new ways of doing old things.
- Enlarge your network, which is important since networking is the number one way to find the best jobs out there.
There are many options for volunteering, and most will provide you with a chance to help develop skills that can be transferred to any job setting.
According to Employment First, an organization that advocates for paid employment for individuals with disabilities, employment is the first priority and preferred outcome of people with disabilities.
Any sizable community will have lots of volunteer opportunities available. Typically, there are volunteer positions at hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living centers, senior citizen centers, rehabilitation and childcare agencies, hospice, Ronald McDonald Houses, and many nonprofit organizations such as healthcare centers for those without insurance.
Even humane societies & veterinary clinics can be a good way to get started again. (Don’t laugh, we know of an RN, who worked at the veterinary clinic at the University of Tennessee for a period of time. Animal clinics can often use the help of nurses too. And, years ago, as a former Operating Room Nurse we know of someone who helped out after hours with surgery at their local animal clinic.)
Also, a lot of special events utilize volunteers, such as local runs, farmers markets, festivals, etc. and these events usually have first aid stations and EMTs available. We’re sure they’d be happy to have another nurse or healthcare professional on hand, disabled or not.
Volunteer tasks may involve anything from putting together mailings, handing out brochures at an information booth, sorting and filling orders at a food pantry & talking to people about free or low cost healthcare services and resources in your community. No task is too small. They all lead to better things.
Consider the opportunity to volunteer as a telecommuter for the National Organization of Nurses with Disabilities (NOND). Assist NOND in writing a newsletter, create other documents, or volunteer to do some executive assistant work while improving your computer skills and meeting folks through the Internet. NOTE: If you are a successfully employed nurse or other healthcare professional who has a disability or has experience working with or mentoring adults with disabilities, please consider volunteering for NOND as a mentor. Seeing someone return to the workforce because you helped guide them on a path you’ve already traveled could be the most rewarding thing you’ll ever do.
Contact NOND2003@gmail.com if you are interested. Please add in subject line: I want to Volunteer.
A good place to start for finding volunteer opportunities is a website called Volunteering and Civic Life in America. You can begin by typing in your area of interest and your zip code, and it will give you options.
A great advantage of volunteering may include the chance to meet people who do the hiring for a particular business or agency. It is estimated by Career Shifters that 70 percent of job openings are never advertised, so you may get a chance to get information about job openings by those in the know.
Adapted in part for the National Organization of Nurses with Disabilities with permission from the American Foundation for the Blind