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Policy No.: 6053
Effective Date: 09/10/99
Revised Date: 08/16/17
Reviewed Date: 01/24/17

Volunteer Policy


This policy is designed to enable the University to accept volunteers while reducing risk and protecting the interests of the University, its volunteers and the community it serves. It also provided a means to track volunteers for Risk Management purposes.


  • Hazardous Materials are solids, liquids, or gases that can harm people, other living organisms, property, or the environment.
  • Job shadowing is a program that provides current or prospective students a chance to observe health-care or research employees in a workplace setting. Job shadowing participants are not considered volunteers. It is designed to be a one-time observation only experience, lasting two to four hours. The job shadowing experience does not fulfill any clinical or internship requirements; nor does it provide any hands-on experience. Those who will be job shadowing must be processed through the job shadowing program administered by Nebraska Medicine. More information on the job shadowing program can be found at: http://www.nebraskamed.com/careers/job-shadowing/program and on UNMC Job Shadowing Procedure.
  • Volunteers are uncompensated individuals. Volunteers perform services related to the ongoing business of the University for their own benefit which may be to gain experience in specific endeavors or fulfill humanitarian, charitable or public service requirements. To qualify as a University volunteer, an individual must satisfy the requirements and be willing to provide service according to the procedures in this policy. An individual who provides services to an entity other than the University that may be related to the University, such as the Alumni Association, will not be considered a University volunteer.


University volunteers are expected to abide by the University policies and procedures and external regulations that govern their actions, including but not limited to those relating to ethical behavior, safety, confidentiality, protected health information, computer use, financial responsibility, compliance training and drug use. Criminal background checks are required for all volunteer positions requiring a Volunteer Application Form. Departments wishing to engage volunteers must be responsible for all costs associated with these items:

  • recruiting and screening (background checks)
  • submitting documentation and obtaining approval from the Office of Risk Management
  • ensuring compliance
  • direct supervision of the volunteer and guest
  • managing the compliance and safety training
  • maintaining documentation

Volunteers who will have patient contact must be processed as volunteers through Nebraska Medicine (the hospital) Volunteer Services Department.

University volunteers are not covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act and are not considered employees for any purpose.


The Munroe-Meyer Institutes Recreational Therapy Program volunteers must meet the requirements of that program and are exempt from the requirements of this policy. The Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP), UNMC High School Alliance Program, UNMC Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) and the programs and courses offered through the UNMC Center for Continuing Education are all exempt from the requirements of this policy. This exception covers activities that are part of the program/course requirements. Volunteer activities outside of the program requirements are not exempt from the policy.

“UNMC COD Children’s Dental Day” and the “UNMC COD Sharing Clinic”

Volunteers who work these events are exempt from the requirements of this policy except that the event sponsor must conduct the checks below for all Non-UNMC employed healthcare professionals volunteering:

Volunteer healthcare professionals who do not satisfactorily pass these checks must not be allowed to volunteer and/or provide services at the event.

Who May Volunteer

Anyone, including retirees, students, alumni, or others may provide volunteer services to the University with the following restrictions:

  • Individuals under the age of sixteen may not become University volunteers
  • Students younger than sixteen years old may not volunteer but can participate in an approved school program pursuant to a contract between the University and the school, and only with parental consent
  • Must have a UNMC sponsor for volunteer opportunities
  • Must be able to read, speak and comprehend the English language
  • Must complete a volunteer application
  • An individual under the age of nineteen must obtain parental consent to volunteer

A current employee may not become a University volunteer at the University in any capacity in which he or she is employed at the University, or which is essentially similar to or related to the individual’s regular work at the University. A current employee may only volunteer for special events, such as United Way events, Commencement, and the like. It is important to determine that a person is performing services of a volunteer and will not be considered an employee under the Fair Labor Standards Act. A determination by the Department of Labor that a person’s service was that of an employee’s will result in the time of service being compensable.

Services Not Requiring a Volunteer Application

The types of one-time activities that do not involve access to confidential information or potentially hazardous areas, are generally considered low-risk, and do not require a completed Volunteer Application. It includes but is not limited to the following:

  • Commencement volunteer/guest
  • Annual Rewards & Recognition program volunteers
  • Volunteer for UNMC-sponsored fund raisers
  • Seminar/conference speaker
  • Individuals with volunteer faculty appointments, such as physicians and dentists who supervise UNMC residents and students in outlying clinics, are not required to complete a University of Nebraska Medical Center Volunteer Application Form. These individuals receive a volunteer faculty appointment through the respective UNMC College. These individuals are not subject to background checks and generally do not need to complete UNMC compliance requirements, as they must complete similar requirements within the health care organization where they work. The process to become volunteer faculty at UNMC can be found here: Becoming a Volunteer Faculty at UNMC.
  • Visiting scientist and students who will be participating in laboratory activities using biohazardous agents do not need a volunteer application form but must comply with Institutional Biosafety Committee Biosafety Policies and Procedures SOP# UNMC-[Visiting scientist and students who will be participating in laboratory activities using biohazardous agents do not need a volunteer application form but must comply with Institutional Biosafety Committee Biosafety Policies and Procedures SOP#UNMC-IBC036 - Visiting Scientist and Student for Access to Participate in Laboratory Activities Using Biohazardous Agents]. The prohibited activities list does not apply to visiting scientists but the principal investigator is responsible for making sure they are familiar with the hazards and utilize the appropriate safety protocol and personal protective equipment. IBC036 - Visiting Scientist and Student for Access to Participate in Laboratory Activities Using Biohazardous Agents. The prohibited activities list does not apply to visiting scientists but the principal investigator is responsible for making sure they are familiar with the hazards and utilize the appropriate safety protocol and personal protective equipment.

Note: For some University volunteers (e.g., advisory council members, trustees, reunion chairs), it may not be necessary to follow all of the steps of the policy (e.g. volunteer application form, vaccinations, etc.). Please contact UNMC Risk Management for guidance.

Prohibited Activities

University volunteers cannot replace employee positions or impair the employment of a University position. Volunteers’ services are generally limited to humanitarian, charitable or public services. University volunteers are also prohibited from performing the following activities:

  • Operating heavy equipment and vehicles
  • Working with stored energy (e.g. steam, electricity, hydraulics)
  • Working with radioactive or hazardous materials
  • Activity considered inappropriate for any employee
  • Entering into any contract on behalf of the University
  • Working with animals or in areas where animals are present
  • Working with infectious or potentially infectious agents, including human blood
  • Working in any of these restricted areas:
  • Gross Anatomy Lab
  • GMP Facility
  • Nebraska Anatomical Board
  • Comparative Medicine
  • Nebraska Public Health Lab
  • Biosafety Level 3 (BSL3)
  • Any area containing radiation
  • Antibody Labeling Facility
  • Non-human primate research

Contact the Department of Risk Management for guidance.


University volunteers must complete the following training modules prior to any volunteer activities:

  • Appropriate safety module
  • General safety module – for those who are not in labs or patients areas
  • Lab safety module – for those in lab area
  • Hospital Safety – for those in patient areas or buildings housing patients


  • Must wear closed-toe shoes in a laboratory
  • Must wear business casual and work appropriate clothing
  • Must wear volunteer/guest lanyard with UNMC photo identification
  • If working in the lab must secure long hair
  • Must wear appropriate safety equipment
  • Limited jewelry (as appropriate for others in the lab)

Additional Requirements

  • Volunteers with patient contact must be processed through the Nebraska Medicine Volunteer Services department
  • Volunteers must provide proof of medical insurance and documentation of immunizations


When selecting and engaging a volunteer it is the department or unit’s responsibility to be certain the individual has adequate experience, qualifications, and training for the task he or she will be required to perform. The department must assign someone to directly supervise the volunteer. A volunteer cannot be supervised by a family member. A family member means an individual who is the spouse, child, parent, foster parent, guardian, brother, sister, grandchild, or grandparent, by blood, marriage, or adoption, of a University official or employee. The following procedures are required to engage a volunteer or a guest:

  1. Departments or Units wishing to engage a volunteer must complete a description of the duties and services to be performed by a volunteer or description of education and professional experience to be provided for the guest. It must list who will provide supervision, level of supervision, etc.
  2. Determine if a University of Nebraska Medical Center Volunteer Application Form is necessary by reviewing the “Services Not Requiring a Volunteer Application” and the “Prohibited Activities” sections.
  3. Each potential University volunteer (or their parent) must complete a University Of Nebraska Medical Center Volunteer Application Form.
  4. Applicants over the age of nineteen must complete the University Of Nebraska Medical Center Volunteer Application Form prior to beginning their service. Individuals under the age of nineteen must have their parents complete the Application Form prior to beginning their service.
  5. A criminal background check and appropriate training must be completed for all prior to their beginning service at the University. (See Volunteer – Guests Background Check Instructions)
  6. Send the volunteer to obtain the appropriate campus identification (ID) badge after the individual and service are approved and the background check is completed. Approval consists of a volunteer position/application that has been approved by the department chair or department administrator and a clear background check.
  7. Must have and provide proof of immunizations as required by other positions in the area in which the volunteer will be located (flu, Hepatitis B, tetanus, any immunizations specific to the lab). Questions regarding immunization requirements should be directed to Risk Management.
  8. Forward a the original copy of the completed Volunteer Application with a copy of the UNMC ID Badge to the UNMC Office of Risk Management and retain copies of all forms and documentation for a period of three years from the date of the volunteer’s separation.
  9. Volunteers returning with a break in service greater than one year must complete a new application, undergo a new background check and complete the necessary training again.
  10. Before a volunteer’s duties are changed, an assessment must be made to see if additional requirement or training is needed.


A University Volunteer’s term of service may be terminated at any time and without prior notice.

Additional Information

Please be aware that background checks usually take to up to seven (7) days but depending on the complexity it may take up to eight (8) weeks to complete the process. The volunteer may not start until the process is completed so plan accordingly.

This page maintained by dkp.