What is tuberculosis, anyway?

Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease that attacks your lungs. It was once the leading cause of death in the United States. The truly scary part of TB is that you can have it unknowingly, which is called latent TB. Since the disease travels through the air, you can spread TB by coughing, sneezing or even singing. This is why hospitals consider regular TB testing to be a critical part of the volunteer screening processes.

Hospital Volunteer Requirements

Typically, you can't just walk into a hospital, sign up to volunteer and start that day. Hospitals carefully screen their volunteers to ensure the health and safety of their patients. If you live in a small town, you might be able to volunteer more easily because you know the doctors and the organization. But in larger cities, you're going to need to do some legwork before you can join the volunteer program.

Depending on your hospital choice, you might need to complete a few steps before you can become a volunteer. In general, most hospitals require some kind of health screening, such as testing for tuberculosis, measles, chicken pox and illegal drug use. At the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, you'll need to fill out an application, attend a volunteer orientation session, go through the health screening tests and interview with a volunteer services staff member. Once you've been accepted, you'll work for 10 hours at the Volunteer Services Office before being moved to your placement choice.

At the University of Chicago Medical Center, you need to be at least 16 years old to volunteer. You'll also have to take the health screening tests and be willing to donate at least four hours of time each week. At the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, you'll also need to fill out an application and attend an orientation. The best way to learn about your hospital's requirements is to check the volunteer section of its Web site or call the hospital directly.

Read on to learn the specifics of hospital volunteer training.