Volunteer Opportunities at UC San Diego Health

More than 900 volunteers are in active service at any given time, performing tasks such as helping staff with patients, transporting and escorting patients in wheelchairs, and running errands to the pharmacy, labs and other areas.

Role of Volunteers

Our volunteers help UC San Diego Health personnel with 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 replace formal education and medical training. Volunteers only assist medical personnel and other staff in taking care of patients and doing 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 them is not part of the Volunteer Services program.

Volunteer Opportunities

The list below offers a look at the type of opportunities available at our various locations. Placement decisions are made by the Volunteer Services staff. 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. Here are some of the tasks that volunteers do:

Jacobs Medical Center, La Jolla

  • Administrative Support
    Perform tasks such as answering phones, filing, running errands, etc.
  • Call Pool/Concierge/Information
    Circulate throughout the medical center, greeting and directing patients and visitors, escorting patients to departments and units, and assisting with wheelchair transport. Volunteers also work on mobile phones, going to all clinical areas to offer help in labs, running errands and making deliveries. Volunteers must be able to work independently.
  • Cardiac Wellness and Rehab
    Greet cardiac rehab participants at classes and functions, clean exercise equipment, assemble education materials for patients and assist with program setup and transitions.
  • Cuddler Program (Infant Special Care Unit)
    Hold, rock, feed and change babies under the close supervision of the nursing staff. Support the staff by performing tasks and running errands. There is a waiting list of 18 to 24 months for this position.
  • Diabetes Education
    Volunteers assist staff by introducing diabetes educational modules to patients and then setting up educational modules on bedside computer.
  • Doula Program (Hearts & Hands)
    A doula (childbirth assistant) provides continuous, one-on-one physical, emotional and informational support to women during labor and birth. Doula volunteers work under close supervision of a certified nurse-midwife or a 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. See Doula Services or contact Ann Fulcher, program manager, at afulcher@ucsd.edu or 858-249-5935 for more information.
  • Emergency Department
    Support department staff by performing tasks such as running errands, transporting equipment, helping with patient transport, cleaning and changing beds, stocking supplies and providing telephone and administrative assistance. Volunteers must be at least 18 years old and have completed high school.
  • Healing Art Cart
    Visit patients with art supplies, offering companionship while patients work on a painting, drawing or other art project.
  • ICU
    Assist with greeting and providing access to the ICU units for patients and visitors. Support unit staff by performing tasks such as running errands, transporting specimens and equipment, helping with patient transport, cleaning and changing beds, stocking supplies and providing telephone and administrative assistance.
  • Labor and Delivery
    Support unit staff by performing tasks such as running errands, transporting specimens and equipment, helping with patient transport, cleaning and changing beds, stocking supplies and providing telephone and administrative assistance.
  • Musicians
    Provide music as a therapeutic tool for patients and visitors in patient units and/or in public spaces.
  • NICU Concierge
    Welcome family members to the NICU, help with hand-washing and signing in, escort parents to their baby, introduce the nurse and generally help make parents comfortable. Also help 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.
  • Patient Care Units
    Assist with greeting and providing access into the units for patients and visitors. Support nursing staff by running errands, delivering equipment and lab specimens, answering phones and the patient call bell, putting away supplies, stocking patient rooms and cleaning beds, assisting with patient transport, taking charts to Medical Records, and visiting and reading to patients.
  • Pharmacy (Discharge)
    Volunteers at discharge pharmacies file prescriptions and other documents, photocopy forms, file medication bags for patient pickup, help organize supplies, assist pharmacy clerks and techs with return-to-stock process. Volunteers must be at least 18 years of age and have completed high school.
  • Postpartum
    Help staff by running errands, doing administrative work, providing patient transport and interacting with patients.
  • Rapid Response Lab
    Assist with inventory and supply handling in the lab.
  • Same-Day Surgery/Surgical Waiting Info Desk/PACU
    Assist staff with greeting and taking patients into the pre-op area. Support Guest Services staff by providing information on status of surgery completion and taking family members to the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) area when indicated. Assist in the recovery area of the operating room by doing tasks such as running errands, making deliveries, helping with patient transport, changing beds/gurneys, and helping with paperwork. Volunteers also visit with, answer questions for and sit at the bedside of recovering surgical patients. Assist in tracking whereabouts of families and locating them for consultations with the surgeon or other staff members.
  • Special Procedures
    Assist the discharge staff by answering phones, escorting patients to the procedure rooms, helping to discharge patients after their procedure, preparing gurneys for next patient, stocking supplies and making procedure packets. Also help patients pick up their outpatient medications and belongings from the admissions safe.
  • Spiritual Care
    Provide spiritual and emotional support to patients, family members and friends, while being respectful of their beliefs, culture, traditions and value system.
  • Tender Loving Canine Program
    Volunteers visit designated patient care areas with trained dogs. The program permits dogs that have been licensed to visit designated areas after being screened by a California-licensed dog trainer. Dogs must be on leash at all times and handlers must have exceptional interpersonal skills and be capable of dealing with people of varying ages and degrees of illness.

Koman Family Outpatient Pavilion, La Jolla

  • Infusion Center
    Offer support to patients and their families during treatment. This may involve one-on-one patient interaction such as listening, conversing, reading, getting food or drinks, etc.
  • Pain Procedures
    Assist patients in recovery area, escort discharged patients, restock supplies, make procedural packets and help prepare rooms for next patient.
  • One-on-One patient Interaction
    Act as liaison between staff, admissions, patients and families, stock supplies, make beds, check inventory, answer phones and do other administrative tasks.
  • Rehabilitation Services
    Assist physical, occupational and speech therapy staff by doing paperwork, cleaning equipment, changing beds, cleaning mats and running errands. Some observational opportunities are available.

Moores Cancer Center, La Jolla

Limited weekend and evening opportunities available

  • Administrative Help
    Assist with 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. Help staff maintain a welcoming and professional environment.
  • Concierge
    Greet and direct patients and visitors around the center. 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 drinks, etc.
  • Patient and Family Education Center
    Offer listening and support, assist visitors with cancer-related educational materials and resource information, and give special comfort items and wigs.

Shiley Eye Institute, La Jolla

  • Surgery (Outpatient)
    Assist patients with changing clothes before and after outpatient surgery. Provide coffee and juice for post-op patients and families. Escort patients to their automobiles. Do clerical tasks.

Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center, La Jolla

  • Cardiovascular Clinic
    Assist and greet patients, help front desk staff with phones and clerical duties.
  • Cardiovascular ICU
    Answer phones, stock supplies, run labs and visit with patients.
  • Cath Lab
    Answer phones, run labs, stock supplies and escort patients.
  • Procedural Treatment Unit
    Help at reception desk, escort families and patients, assist with wheelchair discharge, run errands and answer phones.

UC San Diego Medical Center, Hillcrest

  • Administrative Support
    Perform duties such as answering phones, filing and running errands.
  • Bannister Family House
    Help with office work, guest services and the luncheon program for families of critical inpatients who are guests of the 12-room “home away from home.” Assist the house manager in projects and programs to support the guests of Bannister Family House.
  • Call Pool/Concierge
    Greet and direct patients and visitors in the lobby area, escort patients to departments and units, assist with wheelchair transport, circulate through all clinical areas to offer help in running errands and labs and with making deliveries. Volunteers must be able to work independently.
  • Diabetes Education
    Assist staff by introducing the diabetes educational modules to patients and then setting up educational modules using bedside computer.
  • Emergency Department
    Run errands, transport equipment or patients, clean and change beds, stock supplies and assist with telephone and administrative tasks. Volunteers must be at least 18 years old and have completed high school.
  • Emergency Department – Research Associate
    Complete patient surveys to assist in research conducted in the Emergency Department. Volunteers must be at least 18 years old and have completed high school. Learn more from the Department of Emergency Medicine.
  • Infection Prevention/Clinical Epidemiology
    Help with infection control surveillance data entry, performing hand hygiene, PPE (personal protective equipment) compliance observations/data collection and IPCE projects.
  • Infusion Center
    Assist in the distribution of nutrition and comfort items for patients receiving chemotherapy. Bring specimens to lab, transport blood to and from the blood bank, assist in general cleanliness duties and restocking supplies.
  • Musicians
    Volunteer musicians provide music as a therapeutic tool for patients.
  • Nutrition Services
    Take survey cards to patients, help with basic computer data input and data collection for quality improvement, and assist diet technician in obtaining patient's non-clinical info.
  • Pathology Lab
    Restock supplies, shelve completed gross room specimens, clean the grossing stations, fill cassette baskets with formalin and answer phones.
  • Patient Care Units
    Help nursing staff by running errands and in labs, putting away supplies, assisting in transporting patients, taking charts to Medical Records, and visiting, talking with and reading to patients.
  • Pharmacy (Discharge/Outpatient)
    Work with staff members by helping with inventory of supplies, checking for outdated medications and providing administrative assistance. Must be at least 18 years old and have completed high school.
  • Radiology
    • Reception: Help customer service staff at the reception desk in Main Radiology by answering question, giving directions and escorting/transporting patients. Spanish language skills are very helpful.
    • Student program in radiology: Mesa College students pursing an education in the Radiology Technician Program could get an opportunity to assist staff and observe technicians performing their job duties.
  • Rehabilitation Services
    Assist physical, occupational and speech therapy staff by doing paperwork, cleaning equipment, changing beds, cleaning mats and running errands. Some observational opportunities are available.
  • Senior Behavioral Medicine
    Interact with patients one-on-one by playing games and crafts, engaging them in conversation and reading to them. Assist the staff by assembling packets, retrieving references, helping with mail distribution and other clerical duties.
  • Spiritual Care
    Provide spiritual and emotional support to patients, family members and friends, while maintaining respect for their beliefs, culture, traditions and value system.
  • Tender Loving Canine Program
    The 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 on leash at all times and handler must have exceptional interpersonal skills and be capable of dealing with people of varying ages and degrees of illness.

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