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This page is devoted to the management of volunteer programs in health care settings.


~April 2012~

Training Opportunities


Our state healthcare association just finished with its annual conference.  The program development committee did an outstanding job of maximizing the educational time for the participants while still allowing time for networking with peers.  Martin Cowling, internationally recognized as an expert on volunteer management issues, was the featured speaker.  True to form, he did an outstanding job of enlightening participants on trends and key issues relevant to those of us in the field. 

Sadly, just over half of our statewide association was in attendance.  And roughly one-third of those in attendance did so out of their own pocket.  I find this a bit alarming. In today’s world of continuing educational requirements in the healthcare arena, not to mention the educational requirement for maintaining volunteer certification, I continue to be surprised at the low participation rates.  But when asked, the reasons generally fall into two categories:  cost and time away from the office.

training signMost of us are in “non-revenue producing” departments and dollars for education are sometimes difficult to get.  Hospitals have tightened their purse strings in preparation of healthcare reform mandates.  That translates to education and travel dollars eliminated from annual department budgets.  Those in administration are not necessarily to blame either.  They are shooting at a moving target and they don’t even know what the target is.  Nonetheless, why is it so difficult for the volunteer resource professional to attend annual conferences?

Time away from the office is a challenge as well.  More often than not, our roles in our organizations encompass more than dealing with volunteers.  And if our sole responsibility is volunteer resource management, it’s probably a rather large volunteer program.  In other words, our plates are full. 

As we look to keep current on what’s happening in this profession, many of us may have to depend on our organizational offerings and webinars to meet the continuing educational requirements for certification.  While these are often very worthwhile in terms of content, the biggest thing lacking is the networking that happens when people actually get together.  Networking is important if nothing else because you can walk into the room and not have to explain what you do for a living!

Whether you are still one of the lucky ones to have budgeted dollars for an educational conference or not, time away to network, learn, regroup and refresh is worth every cent….even if it has to be from your own pocket.

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The author of the Heath Care Volunteer Programs column is Mary Kay Hood MS, Hendricks Regional Health, Danville, IN (317) 745-3556. With a BS degree in biology from Marian College and a Master of Science in Management from Indiana Wesleyan University, Mary Kay has been involved in volunteer management over twenty years with a zoo and in the health care field. During that time, she completed the Management of Volunteer Programs course offered at University of Indianapolis, several supervisory training programs as well as the Indiana Hospital and Health Association’s Management Institute offered by the Executive Education Program, School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University. Mary Kay served on the Nonprofit Training Center of United Way from 1993 to 2006. During that time, she taught many workshops also facilitating speaker arrangements for the Basic Volunteer Management series. Additionally, she has presented at various national and international conferences. Mary Kay served as president of the Central Indiana Association for Volunteer Administration (CIAVA) from 1993-1997 and the Indiana Society of Directors of Volunteer Services (ISDVS) from 2006-2008. She was also the recipient of the 1995 Outstanding Director of Volunteer Services Award and the 2002 United Way of Central Indiana Volunteer of the Year Award. Most recently she served on the Steering Committee for COVAA resulting in the formation of a new national membership organization for those in volunteer management, the Association of Leaders in Volunteer Engagement (AL!VE). With several published articles, she is also author to two books: The One Minute Answer to Volunteer Management Questions and The Volunteer Leader as Change Agent.

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