Volunteer Services

Volunteer activity is suspended

With the continued concern regarding the COVID-19 virus, our utmost responsibility as a healthcare system is to keep our patients, employees, volunteers and visitors safe.

Effective March 9, 2020, volunteer support across the Yale New Haven Health System, including Yale New Haven Hospital, has been suspended.

We will update this page as soon as the volunteer restriction is lifted. 


Established in 1933, Yale New Haven Hospital has one of the oldest organized hospital volunteer programs in the country. The hospital's 2,400 volunteers contribute more than 200,000 hours of service annually.

The Volunteer Services Department needs and welcomes energetic volunteers of all ages and skills on the York Street and Saint Raphael campuses. Volunteers generally give a minimum of four hours a week for at least six months. There are a variety of volunteer roles to fit individual time schedules, abilities and interests. Volunteers may work directly with patients or work behind the scenes.

(Besides the programs listed below, additional volunteer opportunities are available through the Yale New Haven Hospital Auxiliary.) 

Volunteer programs

Non-student adult volunteers help in many areas of the hospital throughout the year. Adult volunteers are expected to volunteer once a week for 3 - 4 hours for a minimum of at least 6 months or 60 hours. The first step is to complete an application.  Please print out the application and mail it to the address listed on the application. If you do not have access to a printer, please fill out the Volunteer Information Request form and we will mail you an application.

Academic Year Program (September - May)

College students may apply at any time during the academic year. They are expected to volunteer once a week for 3 - 4 hours for at least 6 months. The first step is to complete an application. Please print out the application and mail it to the address listed on the application. If you do not have access to a printer, please fill out our Volunteer Information Request form and we will mail you an application.

Summer Program (May - August)

The Summer College program requires a minimum 9-week commitment during the months of May-August, working at least 6 - 8 hours per week. The program fills quickly and an interview is required. It is best to apply early so an interview can take place over winter or spring break. The first step is to complete an application. Please print out the application and mail it to the address listed on the application. If you do not have access to a printer, please fill out our Volunteer Information Request form and we will mail you an application.

Volunteer support has been suspended at this time, and all interviews for the Summer 2020 high school volunteer program are on hold. Please check back for updates.

Current Positions

Volunteers serve in many of our “first point of service” positions. Making a positive impression and setting a positive tone for patients and families is a critical part of the patient experience. Some of these front line positions include:

  • Ambassador volunteers act as greeters and escorts for patients and visitors at the time of arrival. They promote high quality service by greeting guests in a prompt, caring and courteous manner.
  • Gift Shop volunteers provide customer service assistance, which includes helping customers with purchases and keeping inventory up-to-date.
  • Family Liaison Services provides information and support to families in the surgical family lounge.
  • Information Desk volunteers welcome patients and visitors, assisting with directions and providing general information about the hospital.

Trying to understand and cope with the challenges that arise during a hospital stay can be difficult. Volunteers assist patients and their families by helping to make their experience as comfortable as possible. A sample of these assignments include:

  • Elder Horizons volunteers interact with geriatric patients, days or evenings.
  • Emergency Department volunteers support patients and families in the ED, and also assist staff by running errands and helping with a variety of tasks. Volunteers are needed in both the adult and pediatric departments.
  • Heart Center volunteers who have had experience as cardiology patients provide peer-to-peer support to patients facing surgery.
  • Recovery volunteers assist the inpatient unit staff in providing services to patients suffering from drug/alcohol abuse. They provide patients (as well as family/friends of patient) with information regarding AA, Al-Anon, Alateen, NA and other services available to persons with substance abuse issues. (Volunteer must be active member of AA or NA with a minimum of 2 years sobriety.)
  • Spanish Visitation volunteers meet with Spanish-speaking admitted adult patients and provide them with information to better orient them for their hospital experience as well as answer questions and refer them to appropriate hospital staff.

Eucharistic Ministers

Roman Catholic Eucharistic Ministers are volunteers who distribute Holy Communion to Catholic patients throughout the hospital at both the Saint Raphael and York Street campuses. Eucharistic ministers should have  a solid understanding of the Sacrament of Holy Communion,  good interpersonal skills, respect of patients’ and families’ circumstances, and awareness of role boundaries. If you are interested, apply through Volunteer Services. Applicants must be trained and commissioned Eucharistic Ministers and need to furnish a letter of endorsement from their parish priest. Eucharistic ministers will be trained to adhere to the policies and procedures of the hospital and the Department of Spiritual Care.

For additional information, please call the Department of Spiritual Care at York Street Campus: 203-688-2151 or Saint Raphael Campus: 203-789-3245.  

Volunteers play an important role in enhancing the healing environment for our patients. Whether it's providing a Reiki or meditation session or visiting patients to play music or offer an art project, volunteers are integral members of our healthcare team. Opportunities include:

  • Music Visitation volunteers provide a calm and uplifting bedside experience for our patients and their visitors. Volunteers must be experienced musicians and furnish their own musical instrument.
  • Pianist volunteers provide live music for patients, families, visitors and staff gathered at and around the Smilow lobby. Volunteers must have proven mastery of piano playing as determined by an audition.
  • Creative Arts volunteers provide patients and their families with purposeful, relaxing and interesting activities to engage in during a hospital stay. 
  • Reiki volunteers are certified Reiki practitioners who provide a gentle, hands-on energy healing technique to patients.
  • Book Cart volunteers visit patients with reading materials.

Smilow Cancer Hospital (York Street Campus) and Smilow Care Centers

Many volunteers are needed in Smilow Cancer Hospital and off site Smilow Care Centers. Ambassadors meet, greet and escort patients to various areas of the hospital. Pianists provide music in the hospital lobby. Navigators assist patients and their families on the first day of treatment in the outpatient treatment center.

Yale New Haven Children's Hospital

While medical care is an essential part of any child's treatment, we believe that the support volunteers can offer to the patients and families of the Yale New Haven Children's Hospital is an integral part of their care. Volunteer opportunities range from guest relation roles to patient intensive roles. Regardless of the assignment, volunteers are expected to support patients ranging in age from newborn to 18 years. Examples of current opportunities include:

  • Pediatric Family Resource Center volunteers assist families in accessing information and utilizing the available Center resources.
  • Reach Out and Read volunteers read to children in our busy Primary Care Center (week days only).
  • Inpatient Units volunteers provide age-appropriate activities for patients and siblings and offer respite to families.
  • Surgical Center volunteers assist staff in supporting the needs of patients and families in the waiting rooms and recovery area of the Surgical Center (week days only).
  • Emergency volunteers support the needs of patients and families both in the waiting areas and treatment areas of the unit.
  • Arts for Healing Program volunteers with developed artistic skills engage patients and families with a variety of creative activities.
  • Sibling Program volunteers interact with the brothers and sisters of pediatric patients, playing games and participating in activities (Typically: 1 Saturday per month) 

YNHH Hospital supports a number of community partnership programs. 

  • H.O.P.E. Program

The H.O.P.E. (Having an Opportunity to Prepare for Employment) Program is a job-skills training program for community residents. This program matches clients with employee mentors and provides a variety of training opportunities to help clients prepare to re-enter the workforce. In addition clients become YNHH volunteers and serve in numerous capacities throughout the Saint Raphael Campus.

For more information or a schedule of upcoming sessions, stop by Volunteer Services and pick up a brochure explaining program details or call Doe Haywood at (203) 789-4156.

Volunteer Services

York Street Campus
20 York Street
EP 1-612
New Haven, CT 06510
Fax: 203-688-4363

Saint Raphael Campus
1450 Chapel Street
Main 138
New Haven, CT 06511
Fax: 203-867-5225