Volunteer and Job Opportunities
(Pre-OT and pre-PT students and alumni)
Below are some examples of volunteer and job opportunities which will present occasions for you to be around a variety of people from diverse backgrounds, which is of central important to those working in the health professions.
In addition, experiences such as these can help you further develop rudimentary clinical skills and interpersonal skills, which in turn can help you become an even stronger applicant and graduate student, and ultimately a more effective healthcare professional.
It's NOT About "Looking Good" Or "Impressing" Admission Committees
Programs will have seen just about everything on previous applications, so don't think about your hands-on experience as merely trying to "look good." That is not how programs assess applicants; they are not impressed with a mere résumé. They are, however, impressed with an applicant who Instead thinks about their experiences and overall application in terms of demonstrating that they are a knowledgeable, skilled, experienced applicant who will thrive in the professional program and be comfortable and professional around patients during clinicals. That is how programs expect you to undertake your professional development.
Keeping A Journal Is Important To Your Application
Keep a detailed journal about your hands-on experiences so you can fully leverage your professional development when it's time to write your personal essay, apply to programs (OT, PT, PA), respond to additional application essay questions, and hopefully participate in admission interviews.
For tips and guidelines on how to log both your hands-on experience hours, as well as clinical observation hours, click HERE.
Examples Of Opportunities
When you contact the resources listed below, you might briefly explain what career you plan to pursue (OT or PT), and that you are interested in being of service, and developing skills and experience that will help you provide better care once you enter graduate school and your professional career. You might even prepare a résumé or CV, along with a brief cover letter expressing your interest and briefly describing your career goals.
Note: The opportunities listed below are mostly around the Bloomington area. Those who would like to garner experience elsewhere - for example, back home over the summer - can still browse the lists below to generate ideas for the kinds of organizations, employers, and other service providers they might look for back home.
Community Service and Internship Opportunities
- When you are shadowing OTs and PTs, ask if they can offer you some patient-oriented volunteer opportunities. Even something as basic as applying cold / hot compresses can provide useful patient interaction.
- Working with patients in nursing homes (paid and / or voluntary). If you do not have your CNA, try contacting nursing homes and specifying that you would like to help patients eat and keep them company in the dining area, or interact with them in the recreation or activity room. (To locate local nursing homes, try a web search for "nursing homes bloomington indiana" or "long term care facilities bloomington indiana".)
- Volunteering as a "sidewalker" with People & Animal Learning Services, Inc., or the Horseshoes of Hope Equine Academy (HHEA). Note that sidewalking is the better opportunity, whereas being the volunteer who is leading the horse and not interacting with the client is not a particularly beneficial experience for a pre-OT or pre-PT student.
- College Internship Program offers a variety of internship, job, and volunteer opportunities. Many of them are perhaps a bit more apropos for pre-OT students and alumni (for example, offering college academic support for students with autism, ADHD, and learning differences). However, pre-PT students and alumni could potentially find beneficial opportunities upon exploring the CIP site and making a phone call.
- You can look for pertinent IU courses. Example: SPH-K 496 Field Experience, Balance Class. K496 can help you develop interpersonal and rudimentary clinical skills. Students gain hands-on neuromuscular balance training assisting with older adults. For additional information and course availability / options contact the IUB School of Public Health Department of Kinesiology.
- Volunteering for summer therapeutic recreation camps at Bradford Woods. In this setting you would be working as something resembling a therapeutic recreation assistant, helping campers with their personal care needs: toileting, bathing, and during meal times; and helping campers keep on task during activities. (If interested, contact them for information about the summer camp schedule, mandatory background check and reference forms, and volunteer application.)
- Area 10 Agency on Aging offers a variety of opportunities for volunteers to work directly with older people in need of service. Examples include, being trained to instruct in a small group setting, with regard to helping people learn to live healthy lifestyles in spite of chronic conditions such as diabetes or arthritis; providing a variety of services to isolated individuals, possibly including friendly visiting and meal prep. (As always, in whatever way you might choose to volunteer, try to do so in a capacity which affords you ample opportunities to interact with the clients themselves.)
- Middle Way House & The Rise provide services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, and offer many hands-on volunteer opportunities working with children and adult clients.
(Some of these providers may also offer volunteer opportunities. Feel free to ask them.)
- Hearthstone Health Campus. Part time patient tech positions may be available but would require a fairly substantial time commitment. Past volunteer opportunities have included assisting with exercise or art classes, and working with low-cognition clients. See website for contact information.
- Comfort Keepers (Monroe County IN and surrounding areas) Paid, hands-on care opportunities, especially for those with their CNA, hospice certification, or EMT. Comfort Keepers accepts Medicaid. As such, those who work for Comfort Keepers may have the opportunity to work with underserved populations, which is the kind of experience many OT and PT programs appreciate in applicants. If you contact Comfort Keepers for information, specify that you are looking for hands-on experience - what Comfort Keepers seems to designate as "Personal Care Services" and "Specialized Care Services." Hands on experience assisting with bathing, grooming, hygiene, mobility assistance, feeding, toileting, and the like, would be more beneficial to an application to OT or PT programs than would, for instance, providing "companionship care."
- LifeDesigns "partners with people of all ages and all abilities to lead meaningful and active lives." The Direct Service Professional (DSP) position appears to present client interaction opportunities that could help pre-OT and pre-PT students and alumni develop the kinds of skills programs value in applicants.
- Working with developmentally disabled clients through Stone Belt. Visit their website and contact Stone Belt for more information.
- Working with developmentally disabled clients through AccessAbilities, Inc. (opportunities working with physically disabled people may be added in the future - enquire with AccessAbilities). Each client's needs are unique, but AccessAbilities fully trains its staff. In general, the job involves spending time with disabled people in their home environment, interacting with them and helping them as needed. AccessAbilities fills paid positions as needed. Part time and weekend hours are available, as well as overnight shifts, and students are often hired. You must have your own transportation, as the job involves driving from client to client within the given area (currently, there are branches in Bloomington, Indianapolis, and Merrillville).
- Theraplay LLC Orthopedic and Spine Center (Bloomington) offers volunteer opportunities, paid positions, and occasional paid internships, including "physical therapy tech" experience working alongside physical therapists and physical therapy assistants. Phone: 812.332.7529; email: firstname.lastname@example.org. (There is no website. Note that Theraplay Pediatric Services of Bloomington is not childrenstheraplay.org.)
- Home Instead Senior Care, Bloomington. Paid part time positions are sometimes available, in which care givers provide in-home senior care and elderly home companionship. Training is provided, and hours are flexible according to student schedules.
Inclusion on this page does not constitute an endorsement. This information was prepared for Indiana University Bloomington students by the Health Professions and Prelaw Center. Please note that specific requirements and policies can change at any time without notice. Students are responsible for obtaining the most current information directly from application and testing services, and the schools and programs in which they have an interest. Refer to each program's web pages, bulletins, and other publications for the most current information. Students are responsible for understanding degree course requirements, as well as other requirements, policies, and procedures related to the degree(s) they are pursuing; for enrolling in appropriate courses; for understanding IU policies/procedures; and for following through properly with regard to all of the preceding.