Los Angeles Based Premeds – Hospital Volunteer Opportunities

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    I am currently a Care Extender and have been so for about 18 months. There aren’t enough good things I can say about this program. I have seen surgeries, births, deaths, developed x-rays, dressed wounds, assisted patients and staff, and MUCH MORE. This program offers true insight into the world of medicine. You do four rotations over one year, so get exposed to the variety of medical specialties and departments.

    If there are any other care extenders out there, speak up and let us know how you like it.

    Next orientation occurs early October, call now to get dates..

    Care Extenders are volunteers who are pre-health professional students seeking to gain experience in the health care field. Applicants go through a competitive application review, interview process and a two day training program before they are assigned to patient care areas, such as Surgery, Cardiac Catheterization, Labor & Delivery, Radiology, Pediatrics, Women’s Center, Intensive Care, and Emergency Room. The program is a unique volunteer internship that is designed for hard-working, self-motivated individuals who have a commitment to learning about the health care field and serving their community.

    The Care Extender Program provides opportunities for volunteers to experience health care from a clinical perspective through patient contact and volunteer involvement. Care Extenders are trained to assist Medical Center staff who, in turn, are able to share their personal experience with these volunteers.

    Time spent in the program proves invaluable because it provides Care Extenders with “in-the-trenches” experience in a real hospital setting. Care Extenders are respected as professional members of the patient care team. As a result, they gain an insider’s understanding of the operations of the Hospital – an experience which helps them determine their future course for study. The Program now includes over 300 blue-shirted volunteers who are committed to a four-hour shift once a week for a period of one-year.

    In 1999, Care Extenders volunteers over 45,000 hours to the Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center! That’s equivalent to 21.5 FTE’s (Full Time Employees)! Hats off to all of our dedicated volunteers! You make the difference!

    Care Extenders also gain valuable leadership skills through participation in the administration of the program. Volunteer staff positions include:

    » Executive Staff
    » Department Coordinators
    » Special Project Coordinators



    » To qualify, you must be 18 years or older, attend college or have a degree.

    » Attend a mandatory two-hour orientation session (by reservation only).

    » Submit a completed application form distributed at the orientation session.

    » Upon acceptance into the program (requires 1 year commitment), attend a mandatory 2 day training program before assignment to a department.

    » Recruitment occurs every January, April, July, and October.

    » For information on upcoming orientation sessions and/or general questions regarding the Program, please contact the Volunteer Services Office at 310-319-3581


    Has anyone heard of a program like this in Phoenix, Arizona. I would love to be involved in a program like this. Please let me know.


    Oh, I would love to have more volunteers in the ER where I work. I would have loved the opportunity as a premed, or medstudent. Even now, I enjoy being at work when I’m not scheduled to work…to just help out. It’s always something going on…always something to do. And the help is greatly appreciated.


    Do you know how I would go about volunteering in an E.R.? From what I hear, most of the volunteering around here is pretty hands off. Any ideas? I had a CNA that has lapsed, and some medical certifications in another state, but nothing current. I loved being in the middle of it all and was actually sought out to help with debriding(sp?) rounds, JCHO, ETC. I also came in on my days off. Of course all of this was before I got married and had children.


    Diana, are you in Los Angeles? If so PM me and perhaps you can come work with me. If not, I’d say go to the volunteer office at the hospital where you wanna work…get cleared…then go to the ED and ask when you can come. A place with residents is probably a better place because you’ll be able to do more…and the residents will love having you around.


    I am a care extender, and yes, I think it is a great program, as long as your expectations are right..

    I have only been doing it for 3 months, just started my second rotation. My first rotation, which is considered the least interesting one, happened to be very rewarding.

    I volunteered in Post Partum, where I talked to mothers, helped a bit in the nursery, and got a sense of the experience of having a baby, an experience I would recommend to any women. Now, I am volunteering in the NICU, where I should get a chance to witness labors, C-sec etc.

    You shouldn’t come with high expectations though, and this is true for most clinical volunteer jobs. For me, a person who once had a career and even supervised other workers (would you believe it…), handing food trays, cleaning cribs and making beds isn’t always easy. In every shift I have moments in which I wonder how I ever got there, to that hospital, on an early Sunday morning, running errands for a PCP.

    I think this is a great program, more rewarding than going to a large hospital and ending up doing some office work, just don’t expect to open up patient’s harts, of deliver babies from day one.

    Good luck!


    You know, I think it kinda depends…

    The volunteers at our facility actually participate in patient care in a greater capacity than cleaning the beds or handing out trays. In our ER our volunteers almost function at medical students. They are right in the middle of everything. Of course they aren’t allowed to intubate people, or make any decisions regarding healthcare…but cases *are* discussed with them, and they are explained the rationale for some of things that are done. We teach our premed student volunteers how to do a history and physical (the patients almost *always* give permission). We teach them how to ask questions, and which questions are important and why. I think they really learn quite a bit.

    And think about it this way. Imagine you’re volunteering in a busy trauma ED. Even if someone asks you “hey, student, can you go get me a sheet to tie this guy’s pelvis together?” That’s huge. That puts you right in the middle of everything. Or…”hey, student, can you hold this guy’s leg like this while I splint the fracture?” And in our short-staffed ER, the patients would be eternally grateful for a cup of water, or an extra sheet on their bed….and while you’re at the bedside, you can talk with them…get the history….

    Ladies, you don’t need to participate in a formal program in order to volunteer. We have tons of volunteers throughout the year…and most of them are premed students.

    Food for thought.


    Hi Mya.
    In which ER are you working?
    The experiences you describe sound wonderful. I guess experiences are different in different hospitals.



    I wanted to let everyone know about the Care Extender Volunteer Internship Program at the Santa Monica-UCLA Medical center. The program is designed for students that are interested in pursuing careers in the medical field and allows you to get hands-on experience in a variety of departments at the hospital. The program requires a one-year commitment of four hours per week. As a Care Extender, you will have the opportunity to volunteer in places such as the Emergency Room, Operating Room, Labor & Delivery, and many more departments where you will see a wide variety of procedures. There are five upcoming orientation sessions: Wednesday January 14th and Thursday January 15th from 7-9 pm, and Saturday, January 17th from 10am –12pm. You must attend one orientation in order to apply. Please RSVP for a specific orientation session by calling 310-319-3581 or emailing careextenders@yahoo.com.


    I too am a CCE. I’m not sure if the program at Hoag hospital in Newport Beach is related to the one at UCLA though. However, “Clinical Care Extender” isn’t exactly a generic sounding term.

    It’s true that you get more patient contact than in other volunteer programs. Emptying foley catheter bags, helping to clean up a patient, and changing diapers were probably the most patient contact I did. I heard that the ER is really slow. Only “2%” of the time is there anything exciting.


    I volunteered in several hospitals and departments from the time I was 14 until I started med school. As far as getting involved, I found that in most cases how involved you are is up to you. When I worked on a telemetry floor, I stayed after my hours to learn to read the units and to learn to do vitals. By my 3rd or 4th week I was given responsibility for doing the vitals for the entire floor at the begining of the shift, and was often called on to help monitor the telemetry screens. I learned a lot about surgery and post-op care by volunteering to help move patients in and out of bed and help hold their hands while procedures were done. When I did ER, any time I wasn’t cleaning/making beds or transporting patients, I hung out with the doctors just listening and watching. I let everyone I met know that I was pre-med, and some of the doctors started calling me over to see interesting cases or to assist them with procedures. In radiology I was responsible for labeling and developing films, but in my spare time I went into the reading room and observed. When I was in pre-op care I bought a pair of scrubs and at the end of each shift I would follow one patient into surgery, watch the procedure, and assist with post-op recovery.

    As a volunteer you can actually learn a huge amount if you let everyone know that you are interested and make an effort. Of course I did my share of emptying bedpans, too…


    Thanks for the information, everybody! I e-mailed them (UCLA Care Provider program) in April and they said to e-mail back in June, so we’ll see what happens.

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