The staff of the MGH volunteer department is professionally trained
in volunteer administration. We stand ready to serve as your partner
in helping you design, manage, and maintain a strong and appropriate
volunteer program for your unit. Sometimes
it is helpful to think about us as a human resource service to support
you with your unpaid staff.
We will work with you to:
- identify the appropriate role for
the volunteers in your area/unit;
- draft a volunteer job description
that lists the daily tasks, competencies, and training you require;
- recruit appropriate candidates and
customize the "signing on" process to meet your needs;
- provide monthly reports with volunteer
names and volunteer hours given for your area in the past 30 days;
- serve as a technical resource in
supporting continuing education and annual updates for volunteers;
- provide copies of exit questionnaires
for volunteers leaving your area;
- work with you as advisors and partners
on corrective action concerns;
- set parameters and work in partnership
with you should it become necessary to dismiss a volunteer from
the program. Back
MGH has over 1200 volunteers who provide
service to the hospital each year. They contribute 150,000 hours
of service. This is the equivalent of 72 full-time employees. Currently,
volunteers range in age from 16 years of age through 99 years of
age! They serve in over 40 different MGH departments, assisting
patients, families, and staff in a variety of ways.
Some of our placements include::
assist admitting staff with reception, pre-admission testing,
and patient escort;
Center- provide comfort and support to outpatients
and families during treatment;
- Patient Escort and Discharge Service-
act as an escort to patients upon discharge, provide information
and assistance to hospital visitors;
Department- support patients, families and staff; deliver
specimens, transport patients, interact with physicians and other
health care professionals;
- Gray Family
Waiting Area- greet and support families, keep families
notified of patient status.
- Information Desks-
provide information and direct people throughout the complex.
circulate reading material to patients; visit with patients.
- MGH Shops-
General Store and Flower Shop. Respond to patient and visitor
- Office Support-
provide reception and other clerical support with special projects in the Volunteer Office
- Outpatient Services-
provide support to patients and families in outpatient units such
as the Radiation Oncology and the Cancer Center.
- Patient Visitor-
assist staff of nursing units and be a friendly visitor to patients.
support child life specialists and nurses, read stories, play
games, and provide companionship to young patients.
support patients and staff in MRI, CT, Emergency and scheduling
- Center for Perioperative Care
- support and keep families
informed of patient status; act as a liaison between the Day Care
Unit and the waiting area.
for Supervising Volunteers
- What is the "Volunteer
The Volunteer Department Partnership is our promise to you to
work with you to safely and responsibly implement a volunteer
program in your unit or department. We will gladly walk you through
the process from start to finish. We will then continue our support
of your program by making ourselves available to you for feedback,
comments and assistance in the management of your volunteers.
- How do you "manage"
Some people ask "Can volunteers be managed?" The answer
is YES. Volunteer programs thrive when volunteers are welcomed
and oriented to the departments in which they will serve, and
when they are trained to perform and carry out the tasks identified
in their service descriptions. It is important to provide volunteers
with feedback from time to time about how they are doing and the
contributions they are making.
- Will hospital
staff hesitate to supervise volunteers?
Sometimes they do. However, the Volunteer Department staff looks
forward to working with our MGH colleagues around natural concerns
they might have when working with volunteers for the first time.
The Volunteer Department staff will serve as a strong resource
to MGH colleagues, identifying best practices, serving as a sounding
board to help with feedback techniques, and always being available
for conversations about topics as diverse as retention strategies
to corrective action.
- Who should supervise
the volunteers in a department or unit?
A good candidate is a nurse or staff member who is considering
career advancement and might be wondering if s/he is suited to
a management position. Volunteer supervision/ management provides
a good "first experience" in supervising others. The
Volunteer Department would provide this individual with ongoing
support and guidance.
- Volunteers have
service descriptions. Who writes them?
Service descriptions for volunteers are written collaboratively
by the particular unit staff representative and a staff member
from the Volunteer Department.
- Do volunteers
go through health screening and criminal/sexual offender background checks?
Yes. Volunteers are screened initially and annually for TB. They
provide documentation of measles, mumps, and rubella vaccinations.
Finally, criminal and sexual offender background checks are initiated for all incoming
volunteers, just as they are for new employees to MGH.
- If I want to have
volunteers on my unit, what should I do first?
The best first step is to call the Volunteer Department [617-726-8540]
and speak with the Program Manager. Arrange a time to meet to
discuss your wish list, learn about other successful placements
in the hospital, and plan a reasonable time line.
- Sometimes volunteers
quit after a short time. Are there secrets to retaining volunteers?
Mostly, it comes down to sound management practices, using principles
an organization would adopt for its employees:
- Pay attention to volunteers:
know their names; and treat them with respect
- Offer ongoing training during
- Ensure that volunteers know
and embrace a shared mission with your unit/department.
- Provide an environment that
- Introduce a process [formal
or informal] to solicit feedback from volunteers about ways
to improve service and systems in your unit.
- Can a volunteer
be fired? And if so, who would do this?
Yes. Occasionally it may become necessary to release a volunteer
from service to the hospital. A volunteer would be terminated
from our program if he/she fails to meet hospital standards, violates
an important hospital policy [such as patient confidentiality],
does not carry out his/her volunteer assignment within the parameters
of the service description, or refuses to improve his/her performance.
Most often our MGH clinical staff will meet with the Volunteer
Department staff to discuss the performance of the problematic
volunteer. Together they will decide if the volunteer department
staff would meet with the volunteer alone or if the clinical supervisor
and the Volunteer Department staff would meet with the volunteer
The meeting should be private and last no longer than 30 minutes.
It will be important to be clear and direct. The volunteer department
staff has written policies regarding the dismissal of volunteers.
- What do you do
when staff and volunteers are not getting along?
When recruiting and interviewing volunteers, the Volunteer Department
staff keeps in mind the needs of your program and helps volunteer
applicants understand why they may or may not be suited for a
particular placement. Once in a while, personalities will not
"match up" or mesh nicely. In these cases, the Volunteer
Department staff will meet with clinical staff regarding their
concerns. The Volunteer Department staff [with or without clinical
staff] will then meet with the volunteer. They will come to an
understanding regarding acceptable for both the clinical staff
and the volunteer. If the volunteer's return to the unit is not
an option, a Volunteer Department staff member will offer the
volunteer different options so that the s/he may continue his/her
service to MGH.
- What do you do
when a volunteer can no longer perform the assignment in a particular
Clinical staff often meets with Volunteer Department staff to
review the new limitations of a particular volunteer. The Volunteer
Department staff [with or without clinical staff] will then meet
with the volunteer. They will discuss the tasks that have now
become too difficult for the volunteer to perform, and the Volunteer
Department staff member will offer new options so that the volunteer
may continue his/her service to MGH.
- Can MGH employees
Yes they can, and we have several MGH employees who volunteer
with us each year. There is only one condition: MGH employees
may not volunteer in the offices and departments in which they
- I have some specific
needs for my unit? How do I know if volunteers are able to complete
Volunteers work within specific guidelines, have duties specific
to their role at MGH and do have limits. These guidelines, duties
and roles are all set before volunteers begin working in your
unit or department. Please contact the Volunteer Department [726-8540]
to speak to the Program Manager about your specific needs. We
are also able to provide a list of your 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. Back
to Volunteer at MGH
All volunteers are required to go through health and security screenings.
- TB test that has been conducted
in the past 90 days;
- MMR [measles, mumps and rubella]
- Criminal and sexual offender background checks
These procedures are in place to ensure
a safe and healthy environment for our patients, their loved ones,
and our volunteers too.
serve a minimum of three hours per week at a regularly scheduled
time for at lease three consecutive months. Some MGH departments
ask for longer commitments. Back
Training and Health Updates for Volunteers
lIn order for the Volunteer Department
to assure that patients and their families are receiving quality
care from freshly trained volunteers, we hold annual skill trainings
and competency reviews. In addition to attending these sessions,
we also ask volunteers to go through an annual Tuberculosis screening.
While all of the trainings and screenings are required for individuals
to continue his or her volunteering at MGH, they are also free.
Annual trainings and competencies are as follows:
- Wheelchair safety
- Body Mechanics
- Fire safety
- Patient Confidentiality
- Infection Control
- Annual Medical Updates: Tuberculosis
The Volunteer Service Pins are awarded to volunteers by the Massachusetts
General Hospital annually in honor of the hard work and many hours
of service donated to the hospital. The hour increments that the
pins are awarded is as follows:
|Volunteer Service Pin
In addition to these pins, special pins
are awarded to volunteers who reach extraordinary levels: 10K+
Particular attention is paid to
volunteers who had patients distinguish him or her from other
Supervisors are welcome to click onto the Guidelines
for Volunteers - found in the MGH Volunteer Community section,
to review policies regarding dress code, volunteer jackets, lockers,
parking (cars & bicycles), time sheets, and letters
of reference and recommendation. Back