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Volunteer questionnaire

Volunteer Voice - Fall 2012

Inquiring minds want to know

By Johnny Rigg

There’s information for both current and potential volunteers on the Volunteer Services’ website, but a more recent feature, the Volunteer Interest Questionnaire, gathers important information for the department.

“The old questionnaire was launched in January 2009,” says Volunteer Services program manager Mary Jackson. “Prior to this, whoever was interested could call or email Volunteer Services to arrange to attend an orientation, but often people didn’t understand what they were signing up for. Now, it’s important for interested volunteers to know the new process. The questionnaire has become the first step.”

The new questionnaire, which debuted in early June, asks candidates to provide recruitment staff with basic background information and includes a self-assessment.

The old questionnaire asked for the individual’s schedule and availability, employment and education background and the type of volunteer work the potential volunteer is interested in. With the new document, there are four questions allowing candidates to learn more about what is expected of volunteers before going any further.

“The new questionnaire gives us the opportunity to share with potential candidates what positions are available,” Jackson says. “The self-assessment makes it more clear, as the questions are directed toward the applicant’s schedule and strengths.”

After candidates provide the necessary information, they are contacted for over-the-phone screenings to determine the potential volunteers’ level of commitment.

“We are able to see if we can meet the individual’s needs and if MD Anderson is a good fit,” Jackson says. “After a one-on-one interview with our staff, those interested can sign up for an orientation.”

Placement is based on what positions are available and on the participant’s schedule, interests and experience, Jackson says. Candidates are placed after a background check and application process.

“Many people would like to be a part of MD Anderson’s mission, but are often not properly informed about the type of services that will be required of them,” Jackson says.

Volunteers in force

“MD Anderson currently has approximately 1,100 regular day, evening and weekend volunteers,” Jackson says. “On average, we receive 180 volunteer applications every month. These numbers became increasingly difficult to handle and we needed to develop a way to streamline the process.

“So far, more than 700 potential volunteers have used the online questionnaire. We have been able to do a better job of educating applicants, explaining what our program is about,” she says. “Informing volunteers of the position’s different responsibilities, duties and required commitment saves time for both them and us.”

Since the department was founded in 1954, Volunteer Services has provided services and support throughout MD Anderson, allowing volunteers to join staff members and faculty to offer patients care and compassion.

The Volunteer Services website explains the different areas of volunteering and is divided into adult, college and teen criteria. The site also outlines volunteer benefits, opportunities and descriptions along with contact information for those with additional questions.

“The need for volunteers has changed with the continuous expansion to the campus,” says Jackson. “One of our goals is for each inpatient at MD Anderson to be visited by at least one volunteer at least once a day. We always need more volunteers involved in direct patient contact."

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center