How volunteering can help you in your career

Volunteering is a great way of helping those in need, offering support, or giving something back to the community. At the very same time it provides fantastic opportunities to gain new skills, knowledge and experience, which can go on to enhance your existing career or shape a completely new one.

By volunteering you could:

  • Gain access to free training, resources and materials
  • Learn or hone clinical skills / other skills
  • Expand your knowledge of healthcare related issues or specific health conditions 
  • Gain experience of working with patients, specific patient groups or within a different demographic
  • Gain experience of working with individuals who have specific health conditions or concerns
  • Bridge knowledge/experience gaps that you might have otherwise found tricky to fill.

If you volunteer with any organisation, healthcare or non healthcare, you could gain transferable skills and experience within areas such as:

  • Budgeting 
  • Research
  • Advocacy
  • Organising
  • Public speaking
  • Leadership
  • Negotiation
  • Mentoring
  • Education
  • Project management
  • Delivering presentations 

In nearly all cases, free training will be provided and may only need to spare as little as an hour a fortnight.

For example, perhaps you’ve always wanted to work in end of life care, but have no palliative care experience. Volunteering for a local hospice or charity could help you bridge that gap. Alternatively, maybe you want to apply for hospital based jobs, but have no prior experience of working on a ward. Most NHS trusts offer volunteering opportunities such “befriender volunteer," "ward volunteer," or "mealtime volunteer."

It's a great way to find out whether you feel suited to a particular environment. Most importantly, you'll be helping people who need it most. 

How volunteering can help you personally

Evidence suggests that volunteering brings benefits not only to the people being helped, but also the volunteers themselves, helping with:

  • self-esteem
  • confidence
  • self-worth
  • sense of purpose
  • social integration
  • overall quality of life

Useful resources

There are volunteering opportunities all over the UK in a range of different settings. You can explore some of the links below, but the list is by no means exhaustive. 


IMPORTANT: If you’re on the NMC register and you volunteer, you may need to have an appropriate indemnity arrangement in place.. Please see the RCN indemnity scheme document for more details at www.rcn.org.uk/indemnity.