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What to Expect

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Volunteers are at the hospital for 4 hours a week (see Eligibility for more details) and are paired to ensure someone is always available to help at the front desk. At each shift, a team of 2 volunteers work together to provide support to the family members who often feel overwhelmed. In addition to volunteering, partners may discuss and take turns to shadow for 1 hour each

For 3 of the 4 hours, volunteers will:

  • Greet visitors at the front desk

  • Ask the bedside nurse whether the visitor can visit their loved one, and if not, when.

  • Escort the visitor to the bedside and present them to the bedside nurse by name .

  • Remain available to the visitor to bring them out after their visit, to orient them to the waiting room, and to be sensitive to any specific needs they may have. 

"As a volunteer in the MGH ICU, I am responsible for greeting visitors at the front desk, and assisting the visitors in navigating around the unit. My responsibilities include ensuring that patients in the unit are available for visitors, and that visitors are provided with the care, support, and comfort that they need in the waiting rooms. As a part of the ICU Bridge Program, apart from volunteering at the front desk, I shadow doctors for an hour each week, as they do rounds around the intensive care unit. This allows me the opportunity to learn about the responsibilities of the doctor, and the overall operation of the ICU."

Verifiers & References

Verifiers & References

Hours​, Certificates, Verifiers, and References:

The ICUBP offers volunteer hour verification, certificates, and reference letters provided that a volunteer meets the minimum requirement for hours/semesters & processing time for verifications, certificates, and reference letters outlined in the following JotForm: 


Please do not email us for verification, certificates, or reference letters and only fill the JotForm above if you believe you’ve fulfilled our prerequisites outlined in the form.

To know how many hours you have completed, please email:


“Each day in the icu offers new perspectives, discoveries, and insights. There are vast opportunities to encounter people of different backgrounds and  understand the social subtleties of interacting with healthcare receivers. The shadowing component is a great window into the world of one of the most dynamic branches of medicine–intensive care, which is a field for acute minds and bold analytical problem-solvers.”



For 1 of the 4 hours, volunteers will shadow


Shadowing is where an individual is able to follow a healthcare professional during their day-to-day practice. A shadowee gets to witness not only the medical procedures being undertaken, but also how the professional handles a variety of circumstances. Volunteers get to witness the team dynamic of the ICU while the medical staff make their patient rounds or they may shadow one-on-one with a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional. Shadowing gives volunteers the opportunity to see how medicine is practiced, and allows them to better determine if they wish to pursue a career in medicine in the future. Shadowing includes:

  1. Rounds: During rounds, the multidisciplinary team of medical professionals visit each patient room and discuss each case. Rounds start around 8:30 in the morning and around 3:30 in the afternoon, and are a great opportunity for shadowees to hear about different medical conditions and treatment plans.  

  2. 1-on-1 shadowing: volunteers can approach the variety of healthcare practitioners in the ICU (including: doctors, nurses, psychologists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, respiratory therapists, nutritionists, social workers, orderlies/PABs, speech pathologists, pharmacists, etc.) on an individual basis to gain insights into that specific profession's roles, medical knowledge, and responsibilities within the ICU, as well as the educational path needed to pursue a career in their field.

  3. Critical care rounds (CCR): this is a great learning opportunity which all volunteers are welcome to attend. They occur every Friday from 12-1PM and consist of talks given by an ICU healthcare professional at 1 of the 3 sites (MGH, JGH, or RVH), and broadcasted live to the 2 other sites. They cover a wide range of topics and are attended by many of the ICU healthcare professionals. Examples of topic titles include:

    "The State of Organ Donation: How can we improve?"
    "Code Blue: Case Room"
    "Our Job is Done? ICU Recovery as Subspecialty Care"
    "Access to Critical Care in Low-Resource Settings: Current Evidence & Future Directions"
    "Tipping the Scales: The Risk of Obesity in the ICU after Cardiac Surgery"

  4. Operating Room (OR): the ICU Bridge Program offers special shadowing opportunities for select hospitals and volunteers (generally volunteers are chosen based on their level of commitment to their weekly shifts ), to shadow surgical procedures. These opportunities will often be scheduled outside of the chosen volunteer's designated shift.

In the practical guidebook, available to all volunteers at the front desk, tips are provided to facilitate and optimize your shadowing experience. This document contains information such as ICU staff roles, ICU equipment and common illnesses frequently observed in the ICU.

*Please keep in mind that shadowing is never guaranteed and it is up to the volunteers to take advantage of the opportunities above and to the initiative to approach the willing and informed treating team.

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"This program combines the best of both worlds. Not only do we get to help families of icu patients through this difficult time, but we get to learn first hand what it is like to walk in the shoes of intensive care physicians, residents, and nurses. It’s truly an honour to be part of such an amazing team!”

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