Frequently Asked Questions

Volunteer Resources

Q: I am thinking of volunteering. What should I consider?

A: Alberta Health Services (AHS) has over 14,000 dedicated volunteers who help us achieve our vision, mission, values and strategies. But we are always growing and continually looking for those wanting to share their time and skills.

To us, volunteers are more than numbers. Volunteers support so many areas of AHS’s work – in our facilities, at our planning tables and in our communities. Volunteers are in our acute care hospitals, in our rehabilitation hospitals, in our home care programs, in cancer care, in mental health and addictions, in pediatric care, in continuing care and in public health programs. All of our volunteer roles share a commitment to improving the quality of the patient and family experience.

Your volunteer assignment should complement your personality, life experiences, skills and availabilities. To help us find the right fit, please consider what you would like to offer and what you expect to gain.

Q: What are the benefits of volunteering?

A: As a volunteer you will expand horizons and explore career options.

  • Give back to your local community and support the healthcare of Albertans.
  • Create balance in your life.
  • Gain valuable, practical experience.
  • Develop new skills while retaining and sharpening old skills.
  • Develop leadership potential.
  • Experience networking opportunities.

Q: How do I apply to become a volunteer?

A: Visit the Volunteer Opportunities page on the AHS website. You can search opportunities by zone and select the location where you would like to apply.

Q: How long is the process to become a volunteer and what does it involve?

A: Volunteer Resources will review your volunteer application and contact you to set up a meeting if there are any openings. You will meet with Volunteer Resources to discuss your skills, interests, and availability, and to learn more about your potential volunteer role. Based on this meeting, we will arrange a volunteer role that works for you and for AHS.

As part of our program, AHS requires that a security check be completed prior to placement. This can take several weeks. If requested, we will also need time to verify your references.

Baseline health screening may be required for those volunteers in patient care locations. All volunteers will be given an organization, facility and a department-specific orientation when they begin their placement.

Potential volunteers may be concerned about the length of our screening and training process. Please remember that our first priority is patient safety. Our volunteers must understand the challenges of volunteering in a complex organization, the high standards expected and needed of us, and the paramount importance of our shared duty to the people we serve.

For the safety of everyone involved, volunteer applications may be refused based on the results from any of the steps of the volunteer screening process.

Q: Why do you ask for a Security Check?

A: We are required by legislation (Protection for Persons in Care Act, July 2010) to ensure that volunteers who are caring for our patients are thoroughly screened. In all cases, we will cover the cost of the security check.

Q: Why do you require a baseline health screening?

A: We are committed to ensuring a safe and healthy environment. As part of this commitment, volunteers at a healthcare location are required to undergo a basic health screening. This helps reduce the spread of communicable diseases within our facilities and helps protect our vulnerable patients.

Q: What sort of volunteer opportunities are available?

A: Among many other opportunities, our volunteers can be:

  • way-finders who help guide patients and families around our busy facilities,
  • friendly visitors who spend time with our socially isolated patients,
  • patient and family advisors who provide input and direction to AHS on numerous committees, and
  • dedicated supporters of our volunteer retail operations, where the proceeds are returned to AHS to provide patient care and comfort.

Different facilities offer different opportunities. No matter your skills, interests, or availability, we will do our best to find a role that is right for you.

Q: Does every facility have volunteer opportunities available?

A: Not every location has volunteer opportunities available. Some locations are only able to accept a certain number of volunteers and may not be accepting new volunteers.

Q: Can I request a certain assignment if I have a strong interest in a particular area?

A: Yes. As part of your interview, please let us know your skills and interests and what sort of volunteer role would interest you most. It is important to us that you enjoy what you do as a volunteer.

Q: I have received professional training in the health field. May I practice that as a volunteer?

A: During your interview, make sure that your Volunteer Resources department knows of your training and your interests. Please note that volunteers support our health care professionals within the scope of a program description and may not perform any professional tasks outside of that program scope.

Q: Is there flexibility in changing my volunteer program?

A: Depending on availability in other areas, opportunities may exist to change your volunteer assignment. It is important to us that you enjoy your assignment and feel fulfilled with the work that you do. Check back with your Volunteer Resources Department if you are not enjoying or are not engaged with your current role. We can find you something else!

Q: What is the time commitment?

A: Many programs ask that you commit for a certain length of time. This can be a certain time frame or a certain number of hours. Some sites offer programs that occur on a one time or annual basis. The time that you contribute also depends on your availability. Please discuss these expectations and your availability with your Volunteer Resources Department.

Q: How long are volunteer shifts?

A: Most volunteer shifts last between two and four hours.

Q: How old do I have to be to volunteer?

A: Minimum age requirements for volunteers vary depending on the program and facility. Some facilities accept volunteers at the age of 13 or 14, while at others a volunteer must be 16 or 18.

Some facilities will allow children and toddlers to volunteer with their parents/guardians as part of special volunteer programs.

Please contact your Volunteer Resources Department at the facility where you would like to volunteer for more information.

Q: Will I be volunteering alone or with other volunteers?

A: Depending on the volunteer program and facility, you may be volunteering alone or with others. Please let your Volunteer Resources Department know what you would prefer.

Q: What if something happens (e.g. long term illness, unexpected move) and I can no longer honour my volunteer commitment?

A: While we encourage volunteers to honour their commitment, we realize that sometimes it is simply impossible to do so. If this happens, please contact your Volunteer Resources Department.

Q: What can I expect from the Volunteer Resources Department?

A: We commit to offering you a volunteer assignment that is well managed and that ensures volunteers work in a supportive environment.

  • We offer every volunteer thorough orientation and training.
  • We provide you with a detailed volunteer assignment description that clearly outlines your volunteer role.
  • We recognize you for your contributions and accomplishments in both formal and informal ways.
  • We offer ongoing education for both personal and volunteer growth.
  • We offer you a chance to be part of Alberta Health Services and health care for all Albertans.

Q: What does the Volunteer Resources Department expect of me?

A: As a volunteer with us, we expect you to:

  • participate in orientation, training and any ongoing development opportunities;
  • work within the boundaries of your volunteer assignment description;
  • act as an ambassador for the volunteer program;
  • take ownership for actions and decisions made while volunteering;
  • let us know if you have any questions or concerns; and
  • approach your volunteer assignment as a professional commitment.

Q: Who can I contact for more information?

A: Please contact your Volunteer Resources Department at the facility where you would like to volunteer at for more information. To find contact information, please select the facility name on the Volunteer Opportunities page.