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Working with Volunteers and the Office of Volunteer Services

How to Create a Volunteer Program:

The first step in creating a volunteer program is the design. To initiate the design of your volunteer program, contact the Office of Volunteer Services with a completed request for volunteer help (pdf) form so that we can better understand the needs of your patients, guests, staff, and/or department.

Working closely with the Office of Volunteer Services in the design of your volunteer program will ensure an effective and meaningful experience for your volunteers, and will allow for a swift recruitment period that will lead to high volunteer retention rates and tangible, measurable outcomes.

Volunteers are a cost-effective way to enhance your department’s operations and bring new life to the patient experience, however operating a volunteer program does have some minimal administrative costs associated with it.

The Office of Volunteer Services recommends that all volunteer programs have a designated staff member to operate as Program Coordinator, with a dedicated 0.25 FTEs to help schedule volunteer time and act as the point of contact and conduit of information between your department, the institution, and your volunteers.

The Office of Volunteer Services encourages our partners to:

  • Have a clear set of measurable outcomes that can be directly impacted by volunteer engagement
  • Have a designated point of contact/coordinator for volunteers within the department they are serving
  • Offer incentives to volunteers to increase the appeal of your program to a diverse set of recruits. This will help in recruitment and retention rates (i.e. letters of recommendation from department and/or program leaders, educational incentives, stipends, etc.)
  • Prioritize flexibility in scheduling to allow for engagement from a diverse volunteer base
  • Convene volunteers, faculty, and OVS staff together every 6 months to discuss case studies, departmental changes and news, and program updates.

If you have questions, please call Volunteer Services at (603) 650-7056. We can meet with you to discuss your wish list, help you to learn about other successful placements in the hospital, create a volunteer service description and plan a reasonable timeline for recruiting a volunteer.

How to Implement a Volunteer Program:

A successful program and partnership begins with the design, and is sustained by the implementation. 
Below, please find some key ingredients for implementing a successful volunteer program:

  • Pay attention to your volunteers: know their names; and treat them with respect.
    Ensure that they know and embrace a shared mission with your unit/department.
  • Design a meaningful volunteer role with clearly defined duties.
    When requesting a volunteer for your department think about this question: "Would I be willing to perform these duties for a two to four hour period without pay, and be eager to come back next week?" Volunteers need to see the value of what they are doing for your department or your patients. Provide volunteers with a way, formal or informal, to give you feedback about their experiences.
  • Be prepared for your volunteer and have work prepared for them to do.
    Have a suitable workspace available for the volunteer to work in. Provide an environment that inspires confidence.
  • Offer training and educational opportunities throughout the year.
    Volunteers need to know their way around your department, what is expected and how to perform to your expectations. Make sure you give them ALL of the information they need to perform the job well. This will involve some time invested upfront on the part of a department/program supervisor.
  •  Onsite supervision, coaching, and timely feedback are crucial.
    Addressing performance issues reflects you care about the importance of your volunteer's contribution to your department. If you feel the volunteer is not the right fit for your department, or if you are uncomfortable with a certain set of behaviors displayed by the volunteer and would like assistance in addressing the behavior, please notify Volunteer Services as soon as possible.
  • Appreciation and recognition of volunteer service must continually be demonstrated. Show interest and get to know your volunteers on a personal level and you will soon learn what motivates them.
  • Above all say THANK YOU each week. That is their only paycheck!

Can Dartmouth-Hitchcock employees volunteer?

Yes they can, and several employees volunteer with us each year. However, employees may not volunteer in the offices or departments in which they work.

I have some specific needs for my unit. How do I know if volunteers are able to complete these duties?

Volunteers work within specific guidelines and have duties specific to their role. These guidelines, duties and roles are all set before volunteers begin working in your unit or department.

If you have any questions, please contact Volunteer Services at (603) 650-7056 and speak to the Director, Beth O’Connor, about your specific needs.

We are also able to connect you with D-H colleagues who are already utilizing the services of volunteers in their units. They will be able to give you a better idea of what the day-to-day operation of a volunteer program is really like.