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


~July 2013~

The Dog Days of Summer


Ahhhh, summertime…..and the living is easy.  At least that’s what the song lyrics say, right?  The reality is that students are out of school and wanting to participate in hospital programs.  Add in the shortened summer vacation time, thanks to “balanced scheduling” and this creates havoc for healthcare organizations whose intake process can be extensive. 

The challenge becomes how to balance regulatory compliance with shorter summer schedules and still provide a meaningful experience for students.  After all, does a student really learn anything about the healthcare environment by coming three or four times over the course of a summer?female student


With a determination that students must be able to commit to eight weeks for the experience to be meaningful, the process this year was streamlined to screen those students who truly do not have adequate time to commit to the experience and minimize my time involved in getting them through the intake process.  And most of the process was done via email and internet training.  The steps included:

  • Upon receipt of an application, an email message was sent asking them to provide information on when school finishes for the summer and the start date for school to begin again.  Information was collected to determine how many weeks they would really be available due to vacation time, sports camp, church camp and/or band camp.
  • If students met the minimum requirement of eight weeks, they were then sent information about completing the required safety/infection control training online and required to attend a pre-scheduled orientation date.  Students were also instructed to bring signed parental permission forms for their health assessments and confidentiality statements.
  • Students coming for orientation had to have all their forms with them and were asked to sign a service agreement outlining their commitment.  They all began the same day and consequently had an opportunity to meet and get to know each other since they were from different schools.  I spent time with them reviewing expectations, rules and requirements.

While this process may appear very restrictive, it actually allows students to screen themselves.  Now four weeks into the summer and student feedback is very positive and the summer program has proven to be worthwhile, both for the students and the organization.

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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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