The volunteer workforce has always been a critical element in the success of most nonprofit organizations. A strong volunteer presence can mean the difference between a nonprofit keeping their doors open day after day or drastically reducing their services or closing their doors for good.
Close to home, volunteers enhance the patient experience at Yavapai Regional Medical Center in many ways. “We have approximately 730 volunteers at YRMC,” says Nancy Thomes, Director of Volunteer Services at YRMC. “The hours our volunteers give to the hospital would be the equivalent of 51 full-time staff members.”
Thomes says that beyond the hours donated, the type of customer service the YRMC volunteers provide is unique. “They really have that extra time to attend to people, to give them that extra empathy, that compassion, and to just chit chat. In this way, our volunteers can help avert any anxiety that our patients and visitors might be feeling. Their contribution is huge.”
YRMC volunteers come from all walks of life and are all ages. Some are students, some have jobs and are raising families, and some are retired. Their reasons for volunteering are varied: Gaining work experience, fulfilling class credits, making friends, staying active, giving back to the community, or feeling like a part of a greater effort.
Regardless of age or lifestyle, the paradigm has shifted regarding what volunteers are able to give, and what they hope to gain through their volunteering experience.
One of the biggest causes of this paradigm shift is the availability of time. National studies show that volunteers are busier than ever and less available to donate regular volunteer hours. In addition, many volunteers are looking for a more personalized experience, specific to their skills, abilities and interest.
“We do see this trend at YRMC, so we’re offering what we call shift shares,” says Thomes. “We have a volunteer right now who said, ‘I travel a lot. I can only give you the first and the last Monday of every month. Can you work with me?’ And we do. We try our best to be flexible with those individuals who are unable to give the traditional weekly commitment.”
This arrangement has turned out to be a win-win for all involved. The volunteer continues to reap the benefits of giving back to their community and YRMC retains a valuable member of the volunteer team.
The diversity of types of work available to YRMC volunteers means that there is something for just about everyone. Positions include:
- Providing information and transportation to patients and visitors
- Reading to patients, helping them write letters, or just keeping them company as a Patient Ambassador
- Assisting staff in patient care areas, or behind-the-scenes
- Gift Shop attendants
- Clerical assistance
- Certified Pet Therapy
- Music Therapy
The YRMC Volunteer Services Department is dedicated to offering the most rewarding experience possible to each of its volunteers. Expectations, interests and goals are explored before a match is made, “We look at our volunteers’ availability as well as what they are trying to achieve, “ says Thomes, “Most importantly, we look at their reasons for coming here and how they want to feel while they are volunteering.”
For more information on the many volunteer opportunities available at YRMC, contact Volunteer Services at (928) 442-8678.