Over the past few years, there has been an explosion of scientific research being done around the globe. With new studies popping up every day, it can be difficult figuring out where to start volunteering.
This is especially true when it comes to reading about how to volunteer for medical research. There are so many different ways to contribute that it may feel overwhelming!
At The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), we know what it’s like to face this challenge. That’s why we have compiled some helpful information to help you choose the best way to make a difference in cancer research.
In this article, you will find tips on how to pick your area of focus at LLS, as well as some easy things to do while supporting our mission. So keep on scrolling and learn more!
Choose Your Area Of Focus At LLS
One of the first decisions you will need to make when deciding how to get involved with LLS is choosing which disease or diseases you would like to work on. This depends mostly on your personal interests, but also on whether there is something specific going on with those diseases at present.
For example, if you love hearing stories about people who beat leukemia, then maybe working on finding better treatments for patients with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) is the right fit for you.
Decide if you’re qualified enough
Before deciding whether or not to volunteer, make sure you are aware of what types of research exist and how much experience each organization has looking at different diseases or conditions.
There are many ways to help out in the medical field! By volunteering your time, it shows that you believe in the mission of the organization and wants to contribute towards finding solutions to health issues.
It is important to be aware of what positions there are available so that you can choose the one best suited to you or if you are already working, find an opportunity that fits into your schedule.
Making friends who have similar interests and helping them by being their supporter will keep you motivated and give you some needed rest and relaxation.
Medical professionals work long hours under stressful circumstances which may discourage people from offering their services. If you feel that this situation applies to you, do not hesitate to ask about opportunities as there are always new things coming up.
Find the organization
Most research teams have specific volunteers that help with different tasks or projects. These can be general duties such as taking photos at events, doing online surveys or advertisements, or going door-to-door to ask questions.
Alternatively, these individuals may get assigned special jobs or responsibilities! This could be helping coordinate an event, working in the laboratory, recruiting more participants, or anything else that needs done.
By being aware of what types of work your potential volunteer would like to do, you will know how to match them up. If you are ever struggling to find something to do, ask if there is anything new coming up or if anyone is free right now.
Make a plan
Before you actually volunteer, you will want to make sure your plans are ready! You should know what position you can play in the research process, as well as what activities are needed from you during the study.
It is important to be clear about what tasks you will be asked to do while participating in this research. This includes agreeing upon how long your stay will be, and what expectations there will be of you outside of the study time frame (for example, if you agree to participate for one week, you must leave the area clean of any traces of the experiment).
You may also be required to give blood or urine samples, or other bodily fluids, which require proper storage and handling to ensure their quality and safety.
Finally, some studies ask participants to complete surveys or questionnaires either online or via paper-and-pencil format. These can be tedious to complete, so check with the researchers first to see if these things are done automatically through software programs.
Approach the researcher
The next step in giving back is finding an appropriate volunteer opportunity that fits your schedule, financial situation, and passion. Make sure you do some research before jumping into anything!
Most scientists can’t run their lab or office without help, so it’s not uncommon to find volunteers working undergrads, high school students, or seasoned professionals.
Whatever level of experience someone has, there are always things they could be doing to contribute. For example, a senior scientist might have access to new technology that would boost efficiency and/or accuracy while performing experiments.
If you’re passionate about a specific field like biochemistry, molecular biology, or genetics, then looking into opportunities within those areas is a great way to give back.
By being involved in scientific research, you will make an impact on important topics that affect people’s lives. Medical advancements, food safety, environmental issues, and more depend heavily on collaborations between individuals and labs.
Tell them about your interest in volunteering
Before you start looking into ways to help, you will need to know what kind of opportunities exist at what types of organizations. What skills you have and what positions they are looking to fill!
Knowing how to volunteer is an excellent way to gain experience while also helping others. There are many different types of volunteers that can be placed with various charities and scientific research facilities.
You may want to consider becoming a part-time worker first before offering your services as a full time one. This is a great way to get some work under your belt and learn more about business processes.
By doing this, you’ll make sure you feel comfortable working with people and things before asking for a bigger job. Check out our article: Tips For Working In A New Field or Sector for more tips like this!
Given there are so many ways to contribute, don’t limit yourself to just one type of activity. Many groups ask members to do both fundraising and volunteering, for example.
Make a plan for how to get involved
Now that you’ve got all of your materials ready, it is time to look into ways to contribute to scientific research! There are many different types of projects where volunteers can lend their expertise or take part. Some examples include:
Testing new drugs or treatments on humans or animals
Participating in clinical trials – testing new medical therapies or devices on healthy individuals
Assisting with laboratory experiments or studies
Coordinating field work such as surveys or interviews with participants
Running computer programs or software designed to study disease patterns
Fielding data via surveys or interactive tests
Writing up findings or reports based on observations and studies
Some specialties within science require more specific skills or knowledge, so be sure to do some research before getting involved. For example, researchers studying diseases may ask you to report back on how well patients seem to be responding to certain medications, or if they have noticed changes in symptoms due to treatment.
While these aren’t necessarily paid positions, there are often opportunities to make money from donations or sales of products related to your area of specialization.
Prepare your equipment
Before you can volunteer, you need to make sure you have everything prepared! This includes not only specific tools needed for the experiment, but also general volunteering materials like t-shirts or hats that match the organization’s style.
If you are very familiar with the experiment, you may be able to contribute in another way (for example, by helping set up the equipment or serving as an observer). However, if you are not quite so experienced, it is better to do some research into the experimental procedure before agreeing to help out.
Some things to consider include whether there is enough material for everyone involved, what languages will be used, and how much one person will get paid per hour. All of these factors affect the length of time each participant needs to spend performing their part of the job.
Commit to a time frame
Before you get too excited about volunteering, you must be clear on one thing: timing! Most research teams have very specific volunteer hours that they require of people.
They may ask volunteers to work set times each week, or perhaps there are only certain days when they need help. This is not usually due to someone’s personal schedule, but because it is part of their job.
Some positions can even be unpaid! If this is the case then even though you are not being paid, you should still check if your schedule matches up with an available opportunity before getting involved.
You want to make sure that you do not take any opportunities without checking first, as your dreams could become a waste of energy. Also remember that some projects will close down at any moment, so try to be flexible with your commitments.