Center for Emergency Medicine Volunteer Opportunities

Emergency Department Volunteers

The Emergency Department (ED) Volunteer Program at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center started in June of 2017. We have four sessions: fall, winter, spring and summer that mirror the academic year and presently have 120 volunteers on roll. We have worked closely with Carol Passerell, Manager of UH Volunteer Services in developing this program specific for the ED . The majority of our volunteers are premed students, in addition some nursing and engineering students from Case Western Reserve University. We also have interested students from Cleveland State University and John Carroll. Many students are drawn to our program to gain experience in the healthcare field. As the program continued to grow, we made various changes in order for our volunteers to get the most out of their experience while continuing to benefit our patients and staff.

The ED is a very busy environment and we encourage our volunteers to take on many non-clinical duties while they are here.  We also encourage our volunteers to take part in talking to our patients in order to improve their communication skills which will prove invaluable as they begin their careers in healthcare.  In order to assist our volunteers with this we have given them a tool to use to help direct their communication with patients.  This is not mandatory but highly encouraged. We believe that the benefit of the volunteer interaction with patients is extremely helpful in improving patient satisfaction, providing a positive patient experience and aiding the staff in meeting patients' needs.

As our program has grown it has proved to be most beneficial for everyone involved - patients, staff and volunteers.  The staff have welcomed the volunteers as part of the ED team and the volunteers have embraced their new role.  It has proven to be successful as our volunteer numbers indicate. Since June 2017, we have trained and on-boarded over 257 volunteers who have provided more than 14,800 service hours in the ED as of the fall session of 2019.  We are proud of the high rate of retention of our volunteers and there is always a waiting list for students who want to be a part of our program.

We have three to five volunteers on every shift and have a Vocera device dedicated to the ED volunteer group, which the lead volunteer wears to keep the communication lines open between our volunteers and ED staff.  We have 4 shifts per day/7 days a week that are available and have been known to be flexible with hours on a limited basis due to conflicts. Our available shifts are:

  • 10 am - 1 pm
  •  1 pm -  4 pm
  •  4 pm -  7 pm
  •  7 pm - 10 pm

The volunteers participate in a required centralized training program through the University Hospitals Volunteer Office for compliance and safety training. Our ED volunteer orientation is comprised of a CPI training power point, Vocera training and an Emergency Department Volunteer presentation specifically for our ED volunteers to help familiarize them with duties and equipment specific to the ED.  We have also developed a pre-  and post-questionnaire for the students to complete in order to evaluate the program and its success. The volunteers also are required to participate in an onsite orientation to walk through the UH Cleveland Medical Center Emergency Department, that lasts for approximately one to 1-1/2 hours as a group to observe what they have been instructed on in orientation and have the opportunity to ask questions, and are then paired-up with a senior volunteer for a one day shadow experience.

We are pleased and fortunate to have volunteers as a part of our ED team and will strive to improve as the program continues to grow. We encourage feedback from our volunteers, staff and patients.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or for additional information.

Margaret Bigach RN