Since its establishment more than 60 years ago, Memorial Sloan-Kettering's Department of Volunteer Resources has grown to include more than 1,000 participants who donate a combined 75,000 hours of service per year.
The volunteer department is an integral part of the culture of Memorial Sloan-Kettering. Our volunteers provide services that enhance the quality of life in the hospital through activities ranging from transporting patients to staffing the Thrift Shop.
We also offer several specialized volunteer opportunities. Cancer survivors treated at Memorial Sloan-Kettering and their caregivers may participate in the Patient-to-Patient Support Program. Volunteers with a writing background can share their expertise with patients through the Visible Ink Program. In addition, those who have certified therapy dogs can interact with patients through the Caring Canines Program.
“Alongside outstanding medical care, volunteers' humanity and spirit are at the core of Memorial Sloan-Kettering,” says Volunteer Director Jane Hedal-Siegel.
Life as a Volunteer
Our volunteers vary in age and background, from high school students fulfilling service requirements to employed and retired adults wishing to give back to the community. Each member of our dynamic group is committed to providing a welcoming and compassionate environment for patients, families, and visitors.
Volunteers serve at least three hours per week, and must maintain a good attendance record. Though we accept volunteers for all shifts, our greatest need is for those who can work Monday through Friday between the hours of 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM.
“Thank you for allowing me a wonderful opportunity to contribute. To witness such efficiency and love will forever shape my future as a doctor. I learned so much about the world, the patients, and myself.”
-Memorial Sloan-Kettering Volunteer
Our adult volunteers generally commit to at least one year of service. Students may volunteer for one semester or one summer. While the average tenure of a Memorial Sloan-Kettering volunteer is more than two years, we have volunteers who have continued to serve for decades.
We encourage our volunteers to participate in special events, such as the annual Education Series for Volunteers, where scientists and staff discuss hospital and research activities. We also recognize their contribution and commitment every June at the annual Volunteer Recognition Ceremony.
For most people, volunteering is a powerful experience. Many of our volunteers have pursued careers in health and medicine as a result of the time they spent at Memorial Sloan-Kettering.
Volunteering can also be emotionally demanding. Our patients are often coping with life-threatening health problems, so we offer support groups for our volunteers to discuss their hospital experiences and to help them cope with the complex circumstances that may arise.
If you are currently caring for someone with a serious illness, if you yourself are dealing with an illness, or if you have experienced the death of a loved one in the past year, this may not be the best time for you to commit to us. However, we hope that you will consider volunteering in the future.
Applying & Preparing to Volunteer
To become a volunteer at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, please fill out our online application.
To protect our patients, we want to make sure that you are healthy before volunteering. New York State law requires volunteers to fulfill certain medical requirements. We will perform blood tests for German measles, measles, mumps, and chicken pox. Volunteers must be immune to these diseases before they begin volunteering. The hospital will provide vaccinations for adult volunteers if necessary. Volunteers under the age of 18 are referred to their personal physicians for vaccinations and follow-up as necessary.
“I loved giving back to the place that saved my life.”
-Memorial Sloan-Kettering Volunteer
We require results from two recent skin tests for tuberculosis as well. Volunteers are also required to have evidence of good health through a physician's statement.
Following the interview process you will receive a “service description” outlining your responsibilities, hours, and other information about your assignment. The description reflects the standards we expect you to uphold as a Memorial Sloan-Kettering volunteer.
Prior to starting you will attend a Volunteer Orientation Workshop, complete a HIPAA patient privacy training course, and undergo training for your particular assignment. Once you become an active volunteer, you will receive a photo ID badge, a uniform, and instructions on how to use our computerized system for tracking your hours.