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Frequently Asked Questions

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Q: How do I get started on the path to volunteering at Upstate Medical University?

A: You start by completing the online volunteer application. The adult applications for the Downtown campus and the Community campus are available online year-round; teen and college online applications are only offered seasonally.

  • Online: Go to www.upstate.edu/volunteers - This will take you to a web form page. Complete each field and then click the 'Submit' button.
  • If you do not have access to a computer, we can mail you an application. Complete it and return it to our office. 
  • Someone will contact you to provide you with further information and to possibly set up an appointment for an interview. If you are scheduled for an interview, your interests and the Hospital’s needs will be discussed. 
  • After the interview, you will be given medical forms & consents. You are required to obtain a medical clearance from the hospital and we will run a background check.

Q: If I fill out the application, does that mean I’ve been accepted into the program?

A: Not quite. Not everyone is suited to volunteer in a hospital setting and so we review every application and notify those who are a good fit and match our current needs. Prospective volunteers go through an onboarding-process that begins with an interview. Background checks and Health Clearances must be obtained prior to beginning volunteer service at Upstate. 

Q: Are all volunteer applicants accepted?

A: While we endeavor to place each applicant, it is not always possible to find an assignment that is an appropriate fit for the both the applicant and the Hospital.

Please note that acceptance to the Upstate Volunteer Program is contingent upon a background check and a health clearance is required for all prospective volunteers.

Q: How quickly will I hear from Volunteer Services upon submitting an online application?

A: If you are an appropriate match for our program, a member of our team will be in touch as soon as they are able, generally within a few days.

Q: How long does the application and review process take?

A: The entire process of becoming a volunteer can take 4-10 weeks. Volunteers are rigorously vetted in order to provide quality volunteer support.

Q: What volunteer opportunities are there at Upstate?

A: We have more than 30 volunteer positions available. Opportunities range from clinical to clerical & specific volunteer positions can be discussed during an interview.  However, space is limited in some areas and volunteers may not necessarily receive their first choice due to the popularity of certain departments.   Placement is dependent upon your abilities & preferences as well as the needs of the hospital. 

While our greatest need may change from time to time, generally we are most in need of help during daytime hours, Monday through Friday.

Q:Do I have to work with sick people?

A: The Upstate health care system is varied. There are opportunities for administrative assistance in offices throughout Upstate, and you may not need to work directly with patients.

Q: What’s the difference in the Downtown & Community Campuses?

A: The biggest difference is simply, location.  There are some opportunities that occur on only one campus.  For example; Maternity, Wellspring and the Transitional Care Unit are all at the Community Campus, while the Cancer Center, Children’s Hospital and Pediatric Emergency are at the Downtown Campus.

Q: How often do I need to volunteer?

A: Once you have completed your volunteer orientation with Upstate and are cleared to begin, the Volunteer Services Department will schedule you to a regular, fixed schedule based on your available day/time and what is open on the schedule. 

We make it easy and flexible to schedule your volunteer hours. Shifts are typically scheduled in 4-hour increments with starting times as early as 6am and most shifts ending by 8pm. There are a few exceptions of shifts ending between 10pm and midnight. While some departments may offer weekend shifts, most volunteer positions are only offered Monday through Friday between 8am and 4:30pm.

All volunteers begin with one placement.  We recommend that you get to know the hospital, fellow volunteers and staff before committing to more than one shift a week.

Q: I only want to volunteer one day or for a special event. Is this possible?

A: Upstate’s Volunteer Department hopes for long-term relationships with our volunteers; typically coming in for a 4-hr shift once a week, every week. 

However, you are welcome to inquire about event volunteering, by visiting Team Upstate: www.upstate.edu/teamupstate/.  You can also visit the Foundation and perhaps get involved with one of their events: https://www.upstatefoundation.org/

Q: I am a working adult and only have weekends or evenings free. Is there an opportunity for me?

A: The Volunteer Services Department has only a few weekend and evening shifts available. Please notify the manager of your time constraints during your interview.  Additionally, Upstate offers certain programs such as the End of Life Companion program, which works on an on-call basis. 

Q: At what age may I begin volunteering?

A: Teen volunteers are high school students between the ages of 15 and 17. Upstate's Teen Volunteer Program is only offered during the summer.  You must be at least 15 by June 1 to be eligible to apply for our Teen Volunteer Summer Program  - http://www.upstate.edu/volunteers/teen.php

 

Q: I want to work with sick/injured children. Is that possible?

A: Possibly.  Popular areas of service, such as pediatrics, oncology, and surgery have limited availability of placements. We appreciate that you would like to give back and help our young patients. There are at times, waiting lists for volunteers wanting to be placed in these areas.  Feel free to submit a volunteer application.  Be sure to note this interest on the app.

Q: I am a cancer survivor.Can I volunteer with people receiving treatment?

A: Yes, however we typically ask that you have been in remission for a minimum of 1-year before applying to the volunteer program.  Feel free to submit a volunteer application and note this interest on the app.

Q: I have a friendly and smart dog that loves people. Can I bring him/her to Upstate to visit people?

A: Upstate does have an Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) Program.  Your sweet dog may be very docile and loving, but a strange surrounding such as a hospital with all the activity and unique smells could cause him/her to behave erratically.

Therefore, dogs must first be certified as therapy dogs and their owner or handler must be onboarded as an Upstate volunteer before they can come for visits.  We work with the local organization, PAWSofCNY, for our AAT Program.  Visit their website (http://pawsofcny.org/) for more information on how your dog may become certified.

If your dog is already certified by PAWSofCNY, feel free to submit a volunteer application!

Q: Do you schedule group volunteer opportunities?

A: We find that the patient care environment is best served on a one-to-one volunteer basis.  Therefore, the majority of our volunteer opportunities are geared towards the individual.  However, often times, several volunteers are scheduled together to serve a particular need.  Please discuss your ideas about group volunteer opportunities with a manager.                                                         

If your company is looking for a one-time volunteer project, feel free to visit http://unitedway-cny.org/volunteer/ for more information, or Team Upstate: www.upstate.edu/teamupstate/ if you are interested in events.

Q: I'm interested in an internship. How can I apply?

A: Internships are offered throughout the Hospital during different times of the year. Internships/Job Shadowing opportunities are not overseen by the Volunteer Services Department.  Visit Upstate’s http://www.upstate.edu/hr/jobs/internships.php page for more information.  Information about Job Shadowing can be found here: http://www.upstate.edu/hr/jobs/shadow_days.php

Q: Where do I park while volunteering?

A: Parking is available free of charge in our visitor parking garages during volunteer service.

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