Volunteering at Memorial Sloan Kettering is a distinct and richly rewarding experience. Serving the needs of our patients, their family and friends, and MSK staff is both challenging and inspiring, and we’re grateful that you’re interested in helping out.
The Department of Volunteer Resources coordinates the participation of thousands of men, women, and young people as volunteers at MSK. Your role as a volunteer is to provide more than just your time and energy — it’s also to offer support, courage, solace, and joy to our patients, their loved ones, and our staff, in your own unique way.
Volunteers do many things at MSK. You may help patients navigate the hospital or assist in our Art Expressions workshops. For volunteers with certified therapy dogs, you may interact with patients through our Caring Canines program. Or you may simply provide companionship, which can be just as valuable to our patients.
If you’re a cancer survivor or a former caregiver for a loved one with cancer, you are eligible to participate in our Patient-to-Patient and Caregiver Volunteer Support Program. This unique program allows current patients and caregivers to discuss their fears about treatment, recovery, life after cancer, and other issues with someone who’s been through the experience.
As a volunteer, you embody the culture of caring at MSK. “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 come from a variety of backgrounds and contribute their special talents and energy for many different reasons. Some are high school students fulfilling service requirements. Others are adults wishing to give back to the community. Each is committed to providing a welcoming and caring environment for patients, families, and visitors.
For most, volunteering is a powerful experience, and the responsibility of serving MSK’s special patients is an honor. Many volunteers have pursued careers in health and medicine as a result of the time they spent at MSK.
We encourage our volunteers to participate in special events such as the annual Education Series for Volunteers, in which MSK scientists and staff discuss hospital and research activities. We’re also proud to recognize our volunteers’ contributions and commitment with our Annual Volunteer Recognition Ceremony, an event featuring guest speakers and outstanding volunteer speakers along with a formal awards ceremony, in which MSK staff extend personal thanks and recognition to the volunteers serving in their areas.
Becoming a Volunteer
If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer at MSK, we invite you to fill out our online application. We recommend that you take a look at our FAQ page for more information about requirements, guidelines, and expectations for our volunteers before you apply.
If your application meets our current needs, we’ll contact you to set up an interview, during which we’ll discuss current openings and ask you more about yourself and your reasons for volunteering. This exchange is critical to understanding how we can best fit your interests with our needs.
Accepted applicants are provided with a service description outlining responsibilities, hours, and other information as well as clarification of the standards we expect people to uphold as MSK volunteers.
If you would like to volunteer at MSK but are caring for someone with a serious illness or are yourself unwell, you may want to consider waiting for another time to commit to us. The same is true if you have experienced the death of a loved one in the past year. However, we truly appreciate your wanting to help our patients, and we hope that you’ll consider volunteering in the future.
The consistent, enthusiastic presence of our volunteers has become an invaluable resource, bridging the social gap for patients and their families while providing companionship and a welcome respite during a lengthy, complicated inpatient admission.
The Patient-to-Patient Program is such a helpful resource. [The volunteer] offered great tips and helped me understand things better. It is good to speak with someone who understands.