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Candy Striper & Hospital Volunteer Career Profile

Updated on February 18, 2010

Candy Striper at Work

A candy striper visits an elderly man in the hospital
A candy striper visits an elderly man in the hospital

The Modern Candy Striper; Hospital Volunteer

Healthcare professionals value the important role of the Candy Striper, or the more appripriate title, Hospital Volunteers. The name "Candy Striper" dates back to the days when the role was filled by women that wore red and white striped uniforms that resembled peppermint candy. The uniform had several incarnations, the most familiar to my age bracket being the cute pink and white dress, fitted with a belt and hat. In the past 15 years though, the role and the uniform has changed. Men and women are becoming volunteers and they are wearing standard medical uniforms with hospital ID indicating their position at the medical facility.

The modern candy striper is between thirteen and eighteen years of age and are typically female, because the role was originally created as a female job, but the number of men in the field is ever increasing.

These volunteers are integral to the success of the hospital, thanks to their interactions with both nurses and patients. Duties range, but are frequently constrained to clerical activities, as a result of insurance liability. Beginning candy stripers will typically spend time assisting in the reception area, working in the guest gift store, and in administrative roles for nurses in their stations. Volunteers are sometimes asked to make deliveries between facilities, or talk with patients that are in need of companionship, but typically these roles are only assigned those with proven trust and communication skills.

Hospital volunteers help with community wellness day. / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Hospital volunteers help with community wellness day. / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Candy Striper / Hospital Volunteer Duties

  • One of the candy stripers most important duties is attending to patients. Overburdened hospitals don't have the resources to provide patients with frequent one-on-one care, past the necessary time spent diagnosing and treating.
  • Candy stripers make a hospital visit pleasant by eating with, reading to, assisting or delivering items to patients.
  • Seasoned volunteers are often selected for tasks that will allow him or her to learn more about a specific medical specialization like heart disease or cancer treatment.
  • Experienced volunteers inspect and sanitize hospital rooms, deliver records and medication between facilities, and will transport lab specimens for testin.

Training and Application Process for Hospital Volunteers

Training for the job usually takes only a few days. Candy stripers are most frequently employed at teaching hospitals, because the volunteering experience allows pre-med and nursing degree  grad students a chance to work with patients, while relieving the care staff of more menial duties. Many students volunteering at the hospital find the familiarity worthwhile, as it's one of the rare chances for a high school or college student to get a hands-on learning experience in a medical environment.

Lastly, there are several things you should do before seeking a volunteer candy striper role at the hospital. You'll need to complete an application, which includes references and parental consent if you're less than eighteen years old, and interview. Should you be chosen to volunteer, you will need to take a tuberculosis skin test and undergo a physical exam. This provides a level safety so you cannot transmit harmful germs or infections to your patients.

Hospitals count on candy stripers to be very reliable and is an important consideration when reviewing applications. Be sure that you leave time every week for volunteering, as the experience is impossible to replace for those interested in the medical field.

Volunteering takes dedication and responsibility

To make your experience as a candy striper the best it can be, you must make sure that you maintain first-rate behavior at all times, because your conduct reflects on the institution you work for. If you are able to observe all hospital policies, you'll be sure to get a great reference in the future.


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      Ninja 3 years ago

      U don't get paid for being a candy stripper, do u?

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      Anonymous!!! 4 years ago

      I want to be a candy striper so bad! I'm 14, but my mom says that they don't exist anymore. Do a lot of hospitals still have them?

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      sarah 4 years ago

      Iwangto volunteer Im in Savannah

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      Sidney 5 years ago

      I live in Knoxville tn and would love to do it but I'm not sure how to do it?

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      sandy 5 years ago

      I wish I could help all you girls intrested in candystriping. I am tring to start that here where I live. If I can help please wright me.

    • That Grrl profile image

      Laura Brown 5 years ago from Barrie, Ontario, Canada

      I was a candystriper years ago. Nice to find someone posting about candystripers. I've kept my uniform and my volunteeer badges for more than 20 years and countless moves from place to place.

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      TaylorJanae 5 years ago

      I love to do stuff like this i want to be in the medical field so i guess this is the way to start

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      Courtney 5 years ago

      I am 13 and i have always wanted to become a candy striper ever since my grandfather died of cancer 2007. I would like to know if there are any hospitals in my area looking for 13 year old candy stripers, i would prefer Winthrop University Hospital over any other one because i was born there and my grandfather was treated there :)

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      ms.g dog 5 years ago

      How did this come along into the world.

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      DR. SIR CHRISTOPHER A GREEN ESQ MD 9261142 5 years ago


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      Hottie14 5 years ago

      hi, im 12,so... can i still be a candy striper? i want 2 be a OBGYN so... HELP! i need a hospital in augusta GA!!! im desprate PLEASE HELP!

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      leanne 5 years ago

      this sounds like a wonderful job but i am only 7

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      candygirl 6 years ago

      Yes, please, where are there hospitals that hire 13 year olds? everyone says 14 and up!

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      Anonymous 6 years ago

      I am a fifteen-year-old girl, and planning on going into nursing as a career. This seems like the perfect chance to get to know "the feel" of a hospital. My grandmother was a nurse, and she started out as a "Candystriper," outfit and all. I'm excited by the idea of following in her footsteps, and this information was very helpful in my decision-making.

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      unknown 6 years ago

      im going on thirteen and would like to do this when i turn thirteen anyone know what hospitals might take me ?

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      unknown 7 years ago

      TO: Lele J.

      Well I don't know if you can be a candy striper here, but I to am a 13 year old girl and I am volunteering for the CHildren's Hospital. They have this thing called the Junior Volunteer program and teens from 13-18 are able to voluteer. Hope that helped. :)

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      morgan 7 years ago

      This is kinda cool, as an adult I would like to become a nurse. So this will help a lot. Because I am only 13 years old, I don't know anywhere I can volunteer at a local hospital, like Dameron or ST. Joes. (Stockton, CA) anyone know anywhere where I can volunteer?

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      Sue 7 years ago

      I would love to do this ?does anyone know hospitals hiring 13 year olds ?

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      lele j 7 years ago

      this sounds awesome and I would really LOVE to do it but does anyone know specifically which hospitals would hire a 13 year old

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      Dainelle 7 years ago

      uh .. in the physical exam .. what exactly do they do ..?