The MD Anderson Teen Volunteer Leadership in Cancer Care Program is designed to provide a rewarding volunteer experience and instill a lifetime commitment to volunteerism.
Participants will have the opportunity to: provide customer service and support to patients and their families in a hospital setting, gain exposure to a variety of health care careers, learn effective communication and improve leadership skills. We do not offer opportunities for clinical exposure or shadowing a medical professional.
Teen Volunteer Program Details
Students must be between the ages of 15 and 17 (by June 1 of the applicable summer) to be considered for the program. Individuals that are 18 years of age and graduating high school may apply to the College Volunteer Program.
Teens may participate in the MD Anderson Teen Volunteer Leadership in Cancer Care Program for a maximum of two summers. Teens who would return for a second summer must reapply with an in-person interview. Returning teens only have the option to apply as a Teen Leader. Call our office to schedule your interview at 713-792-5646.
All accepted teen volunteers must have a tuberculosis skin test and a flu shot (within the last 12 months) prior to their start date.
The MD Anderson Teen Volunteer Leadership in Cancer Care Program is a summer-only, Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. volunteer opportunity. No Friday, evening, weekend or year-round volunteer opportunities are available for teenagers.
Applicants will only be allowed to participate in one of our two program sessions:
Session I: June 1 through June 25, 2020
Session II: July 6 through July 30, 2020
*Selected Teen Leaders will be required to attend a separate Leadership Role Training on the Monday and Tuesday prior to the start of their session.
Teens selected for the program will attend two full days of orientation and training on the first Wednesday and Thursday of each session. Attendance at the orientation and training is required.
Volunteer shift hours for each session will be Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Teens will volunteer all four days of each week of their assigned program session.
- Teen volunteers will fulfill a morning shift (8-11 a.m.) and an afternoon shift (12-3 p.m.) with a one-hour lunch break (11 a.m.-12 p.m.) and leadership skill building (3-4 p.m.).
- Teen volunteers are not to leave the MD Anderson campus during their lunch break or at any time during their volunteer shift.
- Teen volunteers must bring lunch from home each day* and will not be permitted to purchase from an MD Anderson eatery. Water will be provided daily. *Lunch will be provided on their first two orientation days.
- No more than 14 hours absence will be allowed per program session.
- Teen volunteers are encouraged to schedule doctors' appointments and other commitments on Fridays.
- Incompliance with attendance and behavior policy will result in dismissal from the program.
- Teens are required to attend the final day to receive their Hours Pin and volunteer certificate.
All volunteers will be cross-trained for three to four teen positions. Possible assignments include: gift shop, coffee cart, popcorn cart and patient navigator. Each volunteer will complete a morning shift (8-11 a.m.) and then report to a different position for the afternoon shift (12-3 p.m.).
Throughout the session, teen volunteers will attend learning opportunities that will include presentations representing different departments and tours throughout the institution.
Teen volunteers are not permitted to use cell phones during their volunteer shifts or Lunch and Learn sessions. If parents need to contact their teen with an urgent matter, they may contact the Volunteer Services and Merchandising office at 713-792-5646.
- The application period is open annually in mid-January for a limited period. Applications for summer 2020 were accepted from 2 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 17, 2020, to 5 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 20, 2020. We are no longer accepting applications for summer 2020.
- Teens may participate in the MD Anderson Teen Volunteer Leadership in Cancer Care Program for a maximum of two summers. Teens who would like to return to volunteer for a second summer must reapply to the program. Return teens only have the option to apply as a Teen Leader.
- All applications will be reviewed and approximately 50 applicants will be selected to interview.
- Applicants will be contacted to schedule an in person interview in February. Interviews will last approximately 45 minutes. Return teens will sit through a group interview.
- Acceptance notifications will be sent in March.
- Applicants should set aside one hour to complete the application.
- The majority of the application is in essay format.
BY Lany Kimmons
Most teens spend their summer by the pool, playing video games or working a summer job. At MD Anderson, 25 teens spent four weeks of their summer volunteering as part of the Teen Volunteer Leadership Program in Cancer Care.
MD Anderson always has a large number of volunteers assisting patients and caregivers. But during the summer, more young faces in blue jackets are seen, as teens between the ages of 15 and 18 from more than 15 Houston-area schools volunteer in various positions around the hospital.
“Becoming a volunteer at MD Anderson is one of the best experiences anyone can ever have,” says Bovey Liu, a 14-year-old student at Carnegie Vanguard High School. “Volunteering and helping others are one of the best ways to leave everyone smiling.”
The program requires a big commitment from the teens, who participate in one of two, four-week sessions in which they work eight-hour shifts in four volunteer positions. Their time is spent in the retail gift shops or Appearances, a specialty shop that serves the distinctive needs of cancer patients, and they’re paired with an adult volunteer to work in a clinic. Other positions include patient navigator, coffee cart, hat cart, popcorn cart and the rose garden program.
While Liu enjoyed all his positions, his favorite was the rose garden program, where he would cut flowers from the cancer center’s rose gardens and deliver them to patients’ rooms. He found that the rose deliveries could bring a smile to any patient’s face. He also got the chance to use his nine years of piano experience by playing for visitors.
Lydianne Juguilon, a 16-year-old student at Incarnate Word Academy, found the hat cart to be the most gratifying volunteer position. She enjoyed the meaningful conversations she had with patients and their families while handing out free hats, scarves and pillows.
“The stories they’ve told us about their lives are amazing,” Juguilon says. “Patients have opened up to us. Some have asked for a hug, others have asked for a prayer for their family. You get to connect with people on a very personal level.”