A nursing female student volunteering for several hours walking in a hallway.

Do You Need Volunteer Hours for Nursing School?

Volunteering can be a valuable addition to your nursing school application. Although not always a strict requirement, many programs view volunteer hours as a testament to your commitment to healthcare and your desire to serve the community. 

Understanding Nursing School Requirements

To gain admission into nursing school, you need to meet certain requirements. These requirements vary from school to school, but most nursing programs require applicants to have completed a set number of volunteer hours.

Importance of Volunteer Hours

Volunteer hours are important because they demonstrate your dedication to the field of nursing and your commitment to helping others. Nursing schools want to see that you have real-world experience in a healthcare setting and that you have taken the initiative to give back to your community.

Common Nursing School Admission Requirements

In addition to volunteer hours, nursing school admission requirements may include:

  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Minimum GPA requirement
  • Prerequisite courses (such as biology and chemistry)
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement or essay

Impact of Volunteer Hours on Your Application

Having volunteer hours can greatly impact your nursing school application in a positive way. Here are a few reasons why:

Giving You an Edge Over Other Candidates

Nursing school admissions can be competitive, and having volunteer hours can set you apart from other applicants. It shows that you have gone above and beyond the minimum requirements and have actively sought out opportunities to gain hands-on experience in the healthcare field.

Showcasing Your Dedication and Commitment

Volunteer hours demonstrate your dedication to the nursing profession and your commitment to making a difference in the lives of others. Admissions committees value applicants who have a genuine passion for nursing and are willing to put in the extra effort to gain practical experience before entering the program.

Types of Volunteer Work Beneficial for Nursing School

When choosing volunteer opportunities, select experiences that align with your career goals in nursing. Here are some types of volunteer work that can be beneficial for nursing school:

Hospital or Clinic Volunteering

Volunteering in a hospital or clinic setting allows you to directly observe healthcare professionals in action and gain an understanding of the daily responsibilities of nurses. This experience can provide valuable insights and help you develop skills that will be essential in your nursing career.

Community Health Volunteering

Volunteering in community health organizations or programs allows you to work with diverse populations and address the health needs of underserved communities. This type of volunteer work can help you develop a deeper understanding of public health issues and the social determinants of health, which are important aspects of nursing practice.

Specialized Health Care Volunteering

If you have a specific area of interest within nursing, such as pediatrics or geriatrics, volunteering in specialized healthcare settings can provide you with focused experience. This allows you to gain knowledge and skills in your chosen field and shows nursing schools that you have a clear direction in your career path.

How to Document Your Volunteer Hours

For documenting your volunteer hours, keep accurate records and provide proof of your volunteer work. Here are some tips:

  • Keeping Accurate Records: Keep a log of your volunteer hours, including the dates, times, and tasks you performed. This will help you provide accurate information when filling out nursing school applications and during any interviews or admissions processes.
  • Providing Proof of Volunteer Work: Many volunteer organizations provide volunteers with documentation or verification of their service. Make sure to obtain and keep these records as proof of your volunteer work. This can include letters of recommendation, certificates of completion, or any other official documentation provided by the organizations you volunteered with.

Making the Most of Your Volunteer Hours

While volunteer hours are required for nursing school admissions, they also offer valuable learning and networking opportunities. Here’s how you can make the most of your volunteer hours:

Learning from the Experience

Take advantage of the opportunity to learn from healthcare professionals and observe different aspects of patient care. Ask questions, seek guidance, and take note of the skills and qualities that make a good nurse. Use this experience to enhance your understanding of the nursing profession and to gain practical skills that will benefit you in your future career.

Networking Opportunities

Volunteering in healthcare settings can provide you with valuable networking opportunities. You may have the chance to meet nurses, doctors, and other healthcare professionals who can offer guidance, advice, and potential mentorship. Building connections in the healthcare field can be beneficial for your career development and may even lead to future job opportunities.

Demonstrating Your Passion for Helping Others

Volunteer hours not only show your dedication to nursing, but also your passion for helping others. Use your volunteer experiences to showcase your empathy, compassion, and commitment to making a positive impact on people’s lives. Nursing schools are looking for individuals who are truly passionate about caring for others, and your volunteer hours can be a powerful testament to your genuine desire to make a difference.

In conclusion, volunteer hours are often required for nursing school admissions. They demonstrate your dedication, commitment, and practical experience in the field of nursing. When choosing volunteer opportunities, consider experiences that align with your career goals and allow you to gain valuable skills and knowledge.

Remember, volunteering can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience, and it can also help you stand out as a strong candidate for nursing school. So embrace the opportunity to give back to your community while also taking steps towards your nursing career. Keep up the good work!


Q: Can I count volunteer hours from a non-healthcare related organization towards my nursing school admissions?

A: While volunteer hours from non-healthcare related organizations can still showcase your dedication to community service, nursing schools typically prioritize volunteer work in healthcare settings. It’s best to focus on opportunities that directly relate to the field of nursing to demonstrate your commitment and gain relevant experience.

Q: Can I complete my volunteer hours after submitting my nursing school application?

A: It’s generally recommended to complete your volunteer hours before submitting your nursing school application. Admissions committees often review applications holistically and consider volunteer experience as a significant factor in the evaluation process. Completing your hours beforehand allows you to include this valuable experience in your application.

Q: Are there any specific types of volunteer work that nursing schools prefer?

A: While different nursing schools may have different preferences, they generally value volunteer work in healthcare settings. This includes volunteering in hospitals, clinics, community health organizations, and other healthcare-related environments. However, choose opportunities that align with your career goals and interests.

Q: How many volunteer hours do I need for nursing school admissions?

A: The required number of volunteer hours for nursing school admissions can vary depending on the program and institution. It’s essential to research the specific requirements of each school you plan to apply to and strive to meet or exceed their expectations.

Q: Can I volunteer during high school to fulfill the volunteer hour requirement for nursing school?

A: Yes, volunteering during high school can be a valuable way to fulfill the volunteer hour requirement for nursing school. Choose experiences that align with your interests and demonstrate your commitment to the nursing profession.

Q: Do nursing schools accept virtual volunteer opportunities?

A: Some nursing schools may accept virtual volunteer opportunities, especially considering the current global situation. However, research and confirm with each school if they accept virtual volunteer hours and what specific types of virtual volunteer work they consider acceptable.

Q: Can I count paid work in a healthcare setting towards my volunteer hour requirement?

A: Paid work in a healthcare setting is typically not counted towards the volunteer hour requirement for nursing school admissions. Nursing schools often prioritize unpaid volunteer work as it demonstrates a willingness to give back to the community without monetary compensation.

Q: Will nursing schools verify my volunteer hours?

A: Nursing schools may verify your volunteer hours by requesting documentation or contacting the organizations you volunteered with for confirmation. It’s crucial to keep accurate records and maintain proof of your volunteer work to provide when necessary.

Q: Can I use the same volunteer hours for multiple nursing school applications?

A: Yes, you can typically use the same volunteer hours for multiple nursing school applications. However, it’s important to tailor your application materials to each school and emphasize how your volunteer work specifically aligns with their program and values.

Q: Can I count shadowing hours with healthcare professionals as volunteer hours?

A: Shadowing hours with healthcare professionals are typically not considered volunteer hours. Shadowing experiences are valuable for gaining insight into the nursing profession, but nursing schools generally prioritize hands-on volunteer work that involves actively contributing to patient care or community health initiatives.