Since being established in the 1950s, the Department of Volunteer Resources has coordinated the participation of thousands of men, women, and young people as volunteers at Memorial Sloan Kettering. These individuals provide more than just their attention and energy. In their own unique ways, they bring hope, courage, solace, and joy to our patients, loved ones, and staff.
Volunteers do many things, from helping patients navigate the hospital to staffing the gift shop and assisting in our Art Expressions workshops. People with certified therapy dogs interact with patients through our Caring Canines program. Cancer survivors from our hospital as well as caregivers to former patients give hope and courage to current patients and their caregivers through our Patient-to-Patient and Caregiver Volunteer Support Program.
Through contributions such as these, volunteers embody the culture of caring at our hospital. “Alongside outstanding medical care, volunteers’ humanity and spirit are at the core of Memorial Sloan Kettering,” explains Volunteer Director Jane Hedal-Siegel.
Life as a Memorial Sloan Kettering Volunteer
Our volunteers, who come from a variety of backgrounds, contribute their time 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. Many have gone on to careers in health and medicine as a result of the time they spent at Memorial Sloan Kettering.
Volunteers serve a minimum of three hours a week, and are expected to be reliable in attending their shifts. We welcome participants at any hour, but the greatest need is for volunteers with time on Monday through Friday between the hours of 9:00 am and 5:00 pm.
Adults generally commit to at least one year of service, and most work with us for about two years – although some end up contributing for decades. Students may volunteer for a semester or summer.
Because volunteering can be emotionally demanding, with patients sometimes coping with life-threatening health problems, we offer support groups for our volunteers. These sessions offer people a chance to talk about their experiences in the hospital and deal with different types of situations and interactions.
We also encourage our volunteers to participate in special events, such as the annual Education Series for Volunteers in which scientists and staff discuss hospital and research activities. And we are proud to recognize the contribution and commitment of our volunteers in an Annual Volunteer Recognition Ceremony.
Applying & Preparing to Volunteer
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer at Memorial Sloan Kettering, we invite you to fill out our online application.
For people we call back following submission of an application, we ask for an interview. People offered a position receive a “service description” outlining responsibilities, hours, and other information – as well as clarification of the standards we expect people to uphold as Memorial Sloan Kettering volunteers.
Prior to starting, all volunteers attend an orientation workshop and also submit health records to make sure they don’t inadvertently put patients at risk. In fact, New York State law requires volunteers to fulfill certain medical requirements such as testing for German measles, measles, mumps, chicken pox, and tuberculosis.
Volunteers complete a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) patient privacy training course, and undergo training for their particular assignment. Active volunteers also receive a photo ID badge, a uniform, and instructions on how to use our computerized system for tracking hours spent.
If you would like to volunteer at Memorial Sloan Kettering 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 hope that you will consider volunteering in the future.