Volunteering in Hospitals


Once transcripts are out one can submit copies of their CV and transcript to the physiotherapy manager. It is more beneficial to meet the physiotherapy manager in person as one can discuss the volunteer's length of stay and which rotation they will be during their stay. 


What to expect


  • Each Volunteer will be assigned a mentor for the duration of their volunteer period.
  • Each Volunteer will be allowed to attend any Basic Grade accelerated learning or respiratory inservice training.
  • Each Volunteer will be allocated time during the working week for CPD
  • Each Volunteer will be provided with a time table which will detail a senior physiotherapist who is responsible for ensuring the volunteer is supervised.


Roles and Duties


Roles and duties will vary from hospital to hospital. The following are a list of roles and duties which may or may not be included in your volunteer programme:


  • Write up a data-base for a new patient ensuring it is counter signed by the supervising physiotherapist.
  • Write in Physiotherapy notes, ensuring they are counter signed by the supervising physiotherapist.
  • Conduct a treatment session that has been prescribed by the supervising physiotherapist, ensuring the Volunteer is always in sight of the supervising physiotherapist.
  • Act as a “second pair of hands” when treating a double with the supervising physiotherapist.


  • Establishing contacts with potential employers.
  • Continued education through in-services offered in the department.
  • Keeps your skills up to date through practice.
  • Counts as CPD points. 


Particulars of the role


  • Graduates are covered by insurance if they are a memeber of the ISCP.
  • Have a goal on how many weeks you want to volunteer for (Minimum of 4 weeks and maximum of 12 weeks).
  • No need to work 5 days a week. 1-3 days a week is sufficient ( Minimum of 7 hours per week). This allows one to keep their part time job to help foot the bills.
  • The volunteer programme is not a formal teaching role like clinical placements.
  • The volunteer must comply with all relevant policies and procedures within the hospital and physiotherapy department.


Volunteer Graduate Learning objectives


It is essential that one prepares a list of clinical objectives for their first day of volunteering. Here are a few ideas that may help you develop your own learning objectives:


  1. Be competent in patient assessment.
  2. Develop clinical reasoning skills.
  3. Develop competent treatment skills.
  4. Avail of learning opportunities locally.
  5. Develop communication skills with patients/families/colleagues.
  6. Accurately document clinical findings and treatments.
  7. Demonstrate appreciation of importance of professional conduct during placement.
  8. Practise in a manner in which no way compromises the safety of patients, self or colleagues.


Documents Required


  • Curriculum Vitae of applicant.
  • Two references (Three required if working with children).
  • Evidence of membership of ISCP.
  • Evidence of Hepatitis B status.
  • Evidence of TB immunisation (BCG).
  • Garda Clearance and/or police clearance (Remember, garda clearance can take a few months to come through and officially the HSE does not accept garda clearance that is more than 6 months old).



Unfortunately there are negatives associated with volunteering. The following is a list of negatives that have been identified:


  • Although you are a qualified physiotherapist, you are not employed as a 'physiotherapist'. Therefore, there are many things you cannot do that an employed physiotherapist can do.
  • Volunteers may not write in the medical notes.
  • May not conduct a treatment session that has been prescribed by the supervising physiotherapist, out of sight of the supervising physiotherapist.
  • May not progress a treatment session without discussion with the supervising physiotherapist.
  • Make an initial assessment of a new patient.
  • The use of physiotherapy graduate volunteers in the health service should not be encouraged, primarily for ethical reasons: the risk of volunteers being used as substitutes for paid staff, especially in the current financial climate within the HSE, and the risk of unfairly disadvantaging those graduates who cannot afford to take unpaid work.
  • Many smaller departments do not have enough staff to be able to supervise the volunteer at all times and this fact can often prevent them from being able to take volunteers on.
  • Many hospitals will not provide a reference for volunteers (volunteering cannot be seen as being a way to get a professional reference) and will only provide a statement to say the individual has been volunteering in the hospital/department and may only provide a limited professional reference if the individual has been volunteering for an extended period of 6 months or more.
  • Cannot provide a full reference as there are many professional tasks that the volunteer is not allowed to do because they are not an employee.


St.John of God hospital services provides mental health services, care for older people and services for children and adults with disabilities. It ranges from assessing and providing treatment programs for a range of mental health disorders from childhood to old age, supporting people who have intellectual disabilities and providing a range of supports and services for older people. Please visit http://www.sjog.ie/ for more details.


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