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Volunteer Opportunities

Each year, more than 1,300 dedicated adult and student volunteers provide over 100,000 service hours throughout our hospitals. Approximately 800 volunteers are in active service at any one time. They perform a wide range of tasks, such as assisting staff with patients, transporting and escorting patients in wheelchairs, and running errands to the pharmacy, labs, and other areas.

Role of Volunteers

Our volunteers support UC San Diego Health personnel in their activities of patient care, education and research. The role of volunteers is not to replace, but to supplement, the regular professional staff, allowing them to provide the highest quality of care.

Volunteering does not take place of formal education and medical training. Volunteers strictly assist medical personnel and other staff in the care of patients and administrative hospital tasks. Direct, "hands-on" care of patients is performed by licensed health care professionals and cannot be done in a volunteer capacity. Please be aware that while you may interact with UC San Diego Health physicians and staff, shadowing is not part of the volunteer services program. 

Volunteer Opportunities

The list below is a comprehensive look at the type of opportunities available, but placement decisions are made by the Volunteer Services Program. While we take our volunteers' preferences and desires into account, our goal is to place you in a position that is natural fit for your personality, skills and abilities. We also place applicants according to department needs. Please see our FAQs for more information regarding the selection and assignment process.

Jacobs Medical Center

  • Concierge
    Volunteers assist patients and visitors throughout the medical center. This valuable service provides a high level of patient interaction and the opportunity to assist patients and visitors with a wide range of needs, questions, and wayfinding. Assist Patient Access staff with admission of patients and escort to patient room. Strong interpersonal skills, friendly pro-active manner, and good problem-solving skills needed.   
  • Patient Care Units
    Assist with greeting and providing access into the units for patients and visitors. Volunteers assist the nursing staff by running errands, picking up equipment, and delivering lab specimens as needed, answering phones and patient ‘call bell’, putting away supplies, stocking patient rooms, assisting in the transport of patients, taking charts to Medical Records, and visiting, talking to and reading to patients.
  • Administrative Support
    Perform duties such as answering phone, filing, running errands, etc.
  • Bone Marrow Transplant Unit
    Assist with greeting and providing access into the unit for admitting patients and visitors. Assist nursing staff by running errands, obtaining equipment, and delivering lab specimens as needed. Visit with patients in need of company, provide magazines, books, or other appropriate items requested. Put away supplies, stock patient rooms, and assist with transport of patients.
  • Book Cart
    Provide patient visitation by rounding to units with a book cart. Donated books, magazines, and adult coloring supplies will be available for interested patients.
  • Call Pool/Concierge/Information
    Volunteers circulate throughout the medical center. Volunteers greet and direct patients and visitors; escort patients to departments and units, assist with wheelchair transport; direct and assist patients and visitors in clinical waiting areas; circulate through hospital to all clinical areas to offer assistance in running errands and labs, and making deliveries. Volunteers must be able to work independently.
  • Cuddler Program (Infant Special Care Unit)
    Volunteers hold, rock, feed, and change babies under the close supervision of the nursing staff. Additionally, volunteers support the staff by performing tasks and running errands as needed. There is an 18-24 month waiting list for this position.
  • Doula Program (Hearts & Hands)
    A doula (childbirth assistant) provides continuous, one-on-one physical, emotional, and informational support to women during labor and birth. (A doula does not leave a laboring woman until her baby is born, no matter how long it takes.) Doula volunteers work under close supervision of a certified nurse-midwife or physician in offering non-clinical support to birthing women, including massage, suggestions for positioning or breathing techniques, and other comfort measures. Training is provided to selected volunteers. Physical and emotional stamina is needed; Spanish is helpful. See Doula Services or contact Ann Fulcher, program manager, at afulcher@ucsd.edu or (619) 543-6269 for more information.
  • Gift Shop
    Volunteers provide assistance by greeting customers, delivering gifts to patient floors, answering phones, unpacking, pricing and stocking inventory, and gift-wrapping.
  • ICU
    Assist with greeting and providing access into the units for patients and visitors. Support to unit staff by performing tasks such as errands, transporting specimens and equipment, patient transport assistance, cleaning and changing beds, stocking supplies and telephone and administrative assistance.
  • Labor and Delivery
    Support to unit staff by performing tasks such as running errands, transporting specimens and equipment, patient transport assistance, cleaning and changing beds, stocking supplies, and telephone and administrative assistance.
  • Light One Little Candle
    This national, non-profit foundation helps cancer patients and caregivers bond with their children through reading. Volunteers wheel a book cart with new children’s books, letting patients with children know about the program and offering free books. This is a volunteer-run program and volunteers help in the maintenance of Light One Little Candle (seeking book donations and sending thank you letters, keeping basic inventory, etc.)
  • Musicians
    Volunteer musicians provide music for patient and visitors on patient units and/or in public spaces.
  • NICU Concierge
    The NICU concierge volunteers within the ISCC environment, welcome family members, help with hand washing and signing in, escort parents to their baby, introduce nurse, and generally help to make parents comfortable. Volunteer also helps with stocking bedside supplies and accepting and logging in expressed breast milk. Volunteers can assist with providing parents with items needed if they are spending the night in the infant’s room and can provide an orientation to resources within the unit.
  • Pharmacy (Discharge)
    Volunteers will file prescriptions and other documents, photocopy forms, file medication bags for patient pick-up, help organize supplies, assist pharmacy clerks and techs with return to stock process (must be at least 18 years of age and completed high school).
  • Postpartum
    Volunteers provide assistance to staff by performing errands, patient transport, administrative assistance, and interacting with patients.
  • Same Day Surgery/Surgical Waiting Info Desk/PACU
    Assist staff with greeting and taking patients into the pre-op area. Support efforts of Guest Services staff with information on status of surgery completion and taking family members to PACU area when indicated. Assist in the recovery area of the operating room by doing tasks such as errands, deliveries, patient transport, changing beds/gurneys, and paperwork. Volunteers also visit with, answer questions for, and sit at the bedside of recovering surgical patients. Assist in tracking whereabouts of families and locate them for consult with surgeon or other staff members.
  • Spiritual Care
    Provide spiritual and emotional support to patients, family members, and friends, being respectful of their beliefs, culture, traditions, and value system. Participate in patient rounds. Console, comfort, and strengthen patients faced with serious illness and/or difficult decisions.
  • Tender Loving Canine Program
    Volunteers (with dogs that have gone through training and received a Canine Good Citizen certificate) conduct visits to designated patient care areas. Dogs must be bathed and brushed prior to each visit; their nails must be trimmed and ears cleaned. Dogs are on leash at all times and handler must have exceptional interpersonal skills, and must be capable of dealing with people of varying ages and degrees of illness.

UC San Diego Medical Center, Hillcrest

  • 6th Floor, 8th Floor, Cardiac Care Unit, or IMU
    Assist the nursing staff by running errands and labs, putting away supplies, assisting in transporting patients, taking charts to Medical Records, and visiting, talking to, and reading to patients.
  • Administrative Support (Owen Clinic, Volunteer Services, etc.)
    Perform duties such as answering the phone, filing and running errands.
  • Bannister Family House
    Provide assistance with office work, guest services and the luncheon program for the guests of the 12-room “home away from home” for families of critical inpatients. Assist the House Manager in projects/programs to support the guests of Bannister Family House.
  • Call Pool/Concierge
    Volunteers greet and direct patients and visitors in the lobby area; escort patients to departments and units; assist with wheelchair transport; circulate through hospital to all clinical areas to offer assistance in running errands and labs, and making deliveries. Volunteers must be able to work independently.
  • Critical Care Units
    Support unit staff by running errands, transporting specimens and equipment, assisting with patient transport, cleaning and changing beds, stocking supplies, and assisting with the telephone and administrative tasks.
  • EEG/ Epilepsy Research
    Alphabetize, file, answer phones, mail reports, help with research studies. May have some patient interaction.
  • Emergency Department
    Run errands, transport equipment or patients, clean and change beds, stock supplies and assist with telephone and administrative tasks. Shifts available nearly 24/7. Volunteers must be at least 18 years old and have completed high school.
  • Emergency Department – Research Associate
    Complete survey research by working with ED physicians and inputting data. Volunteers must be at least 18 years old and have completed high school. Learn more from the Department of Emergency Medicine.
  • Hemodialysis
    Perform errands, patient transports, administrative tasks (filing) and transport of specimens and equipment.
  • Interventional Pulmonology Unit
    Office administrative assistance, errands deliveries, and patient transports
  • Musicians
    Volunteer musicians provide music as a therapeutic tool for patients.
  • Nuclear Medicine
    Escort patients to registration, labs, or restroom, return films and X-rays to file room, answer phone, file charts and records.
  • Patient “Personal Care” Program
    Community cosmetologists volunteer to provide free services such as haircuts, shampoo, nail care, and facial massage to patients. Appointments are scheduled through the Volunteer Services office.
  • Pharmacy (Discharge/Outpatient)
    Students and others interested in pursuing a career in the pharmacy industry work with Pharm. D.s and other staff members by assisting with inventory of supplies, checking for outdated medications, and administrative assistance. Must be at least 18 years old and have completed high school.
  • Pre-op Admissions
    Assist nursing staff, stock unit, work with charts, escort patients, and greet families.
  • Radiology
    • Reception: Customer service at the reception desk in Main Radiology by answering question, giving directions and escorting/transporting patients. Spanish language skills are very helpful.
    • Student Program (for Mesa College Technician Program): Mesa College students pursing an education in the Radiology Technician Program are provided an opportunity to assist staff and observe technicians in the performance of their job duties.
  • Rehabilitation Services
    Volunteers assist physical, occupational, and speech therapy staff by doing paperwork, cleaning equipment, changing beds, cleaning mats and running errands. Students interested in pursuing a career in therapies are provided opportunities to observe the activities of the professional therapy staff as they work with patients in the Rehabilitation Services Department or in the patient care units.
  • Respiratory Care
    Assist with the in hospital transport of supplies and equipment, preparing information data entry, and packaging of supply kits.
  • Peri-Op (PACU and Surgical Waiting Info Desk)
    • PACU: Assist staff in the recovery area of the operating room by doing tasks such as errands, deliveries, transports, and paperwork. Volunteers also visit with, answer questions for, and sit at the bedside of recovering surgical patients.
    • Surgical Waiting Info Desk: Volunteers greet and assist patients coming in for Same Day Surgery procedures and visitors/families waiting for surgical patients. Volunteers track whereabouts of families and locate them for consult with surgeon or other staff members. (Additionally, volunteers assist staff through running errands, patient transports, deliveries, changing beds, and doing paperwork projects.)
  • Senior Behavioral Medicine
    Volunteers set up and assist with activities, games, and crafts. Volunteers interact with patients one-on-one by playing games and crafts, engaging them in conversation and reading to them. Additionally, volunteers assist the staff by assembling packets, retrieving references, assisting with mail distribution, and other clerical duties.
  • Spiritual Care
    Provide spiritual and emotional support to patients, family members, and friends, with respect for their beliefs, culture, traditions, and value system. Participate in patient rounds. Console, comfort, and provide strength to patients faced with serious illness and/or difficult decisions.
  • Tender Loving Canine Program
    Program permits dogs that have been licensed to conduct visitations to designated patient care areas after being screened by a California licensed dog trainer. Dogs must be bathed and brushed prior to each visitation along with trimmed nails and cleaned ears. Dog must be on leash at all times and handler must have exceptional interpersonal skills, and must be capable of dealing with people of varying ages and degrees of illness

Thornton Pavilion, La Jolla

  • Critical Care Units (ICU or IMU)
    Support unit staff by running errands, transporting specimens and equipment, assisting with patient transport, cleaning and changing beds, stocking supplies, and assisting with the telephone and administrative tasks. This is an intense, fast-paced environment.
  • EEG/ Epilepsy Research
    Alphabetizing, filing, answering phones, mailing reports, help with Epilepsy Research Study; some patient interaction.
  • Emergency Department
    Support to department staff by performing tasks such as errands, transporting equipment, patient transport assistance, cleaning and changing beds, stocking supplies, and telephone and administrative assistance. Must be 18 years of age and completed high school.
  • Musicians
    Volunteer musicians provide music as a therapeutic tool for patients.
  • Radiology
    • Reception: Customer service at the reception desk in main Radiology by answering question, giving directions and escorting/transporting patients. Spanish language skills are very helpful.
    • Student Program (for Mesa College Technician Program):Mesa College students pursing an education in the Radiology Technician Program are provided an opportunity to assist staff and observe technicians in the performance of their job duties.
  • Rehabilitation Services
    Assist physical, occupational, and speech therapy staff by doing paperwork, cleaning equipment, changing beds, cleaning mats and running errands. Students interested in pursuing a career in therapies are provided opportunities to observe the activities of the professional therapy staff as they work with patients in the Rehabilitation Services Department or in the patient care units.
  • Respiratory Care
    Assist with the in hospital transport of supplies and equipment, preparing information data entry, and packaging of supply kits.
  • Spiritual Care
    Provide spiritual and emotional support to patients, family members, and friends, with respect for their beliefs, culture, traditions, and value system. Participate in patient rounds. Console, comfort, and provide strength to patients faced with serious illness and/or difficult decisions.
  • Tender Loving Canine Program
    Program permits dogs that have been licensed to conduct visitations to designated patient care areas after being screened by a California licensed dog trainer. Dogs must be bathed and brushed prior to each visitation along with trimmed nails and cleaned ears. Dog must be on leash at all times and handler must have exceptional interpersonal skills, and must be capable of dealing with people of varying ages and degrees of illness.

Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center, La Jolla

  • CV ICU
    Answer phones, review charts, stock supplies, run labs, visit with patients.
  • Procedural Treatment Unit
    Assist at reception desk, escort families and patients, assist with wheelchair discharge, general errand running in the unit, answer phones.

Moores Cancer Center, La Jolla

Limited weekend and evening opportunities available

  • Administrative Help
    Assist with various administrative tasks such as filing, preparing mailings, copying, etc.
  • Clinic Areas
    Interact with patients and visitors, assisting with answering questions and escorting guests throughout the facility. Volunteers also partner with staff to maintain a welcoming and professional environment.
  • Concierge
    Greet and direct patients and visitors around the cancer center. Concierge volunteers may also conduct personalized tours upon request.
  • Healing Foods Kitchen
    Participate in food demonstration classes and monthly seminars for patients, caregivers, staff, research participants and community members interested in oncology specific nutrition.
  • Infusion Center
    Offer support to patients and their families in treatment. This may involve listening, conversation, reading, getting food or drink, etc. Provides a wonderful opportunity for one-on-one patient interaction.
  • Light One Little Candle
    This national non-profit foundation helps parents and caregivers with cancer bond with their children through reading. Volunteers wheel a book cart with new children’s books throughout the cancer center, letting patients with children know about the program and offering free books. This is a volunteer-run program and volunteers help in the maintenance of Light One Little Candle (seeking book donations and sending thank you letters, keeping basic inventory, etc.)
  • Patient and Family Education Center
    Offer listening and support, assist visitors with cancer-related educational materials and resource information, give special comfort items and wigs.
  • Research
    Assist various departments in tasks from outreach and prevention to literature searches for patients. See Moores Cancer Center Community Outreach Volunteers for more information or to sign up.

Shiley Eye Institute, La Jolla

  • Glaucoma
    Collaborate with clinicians, vision scientists, staff research associates on clinical research of glaucoma. Perform tasks related to data collection, data analysis and database entry in accordance with established protocols. Evaluate data in multiple databases to assess quality control and perform corrections. And clerical tasks. (NO POSITIONS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE).
  • Ophthalmology/Optometry
    Volunteers direct and escort patients to photography, elevators, and glaucoma clinics. Offer refreshments to patients, make packets for surgery patients, and tidy up in the main lobby. Assist with clerical duties such as filing, copying and data entry.
  • Surgery (Outpatient)
    Assist patients with changing clothes before and after outpatient surgery. Obtain coffee and juice for post-op patients and families. Escort patients to their automobiles and clerical tasks. 

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