Bassett Medical Center is accepting applications for its summer junior volunteer program which begins July 8 and runs through Aug. 22.

Students who are 14 years or older by July 1 are eligible for the program, and they must commit at least two days a week from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., according to a media release. Volunteers are allowed time off for family vacations.

This is the program’s fifth year, said Barb Tarka, volunteer coordinator at Bassett. It’s an opportunity for students to see the inner workings of a hospital outside of what doctors and nurses do, she said.

“There’s so many more cogs in the wheel that’s called a hospital,” Tarka said. The program lets students immerse themselves in departments such as radiology, ophthalmology, billing and others that students might not have been exposed to otherwise.

Where volunteers are placed depends on how much assistance is needed in certain departments and it’s a combination of hands-on and observatory work, Tarka said. Volunteers file, wheel patients to different areas of the hospital, talk to and comfort patients who may be nervous about their mammograms, serve food to patients and their families and deliver mail to patients, among other things, she said .

The observation aspect of the program allows students to sit in on processes like the culturing organisms in microbiology labs and seeing what blood looks like under a microscope, said Natalie Sheldon, business and support services manager of the lab network at Bassett.

Past students have volunteered in guest services, the volunteer office, cafeteria, mammography, security, nursing administration, women’s health, environmental services, ophthalmology and the emergency department, according to the media release.

The program can also be a pipeline for future careers in the medical field. Victoria Spoon, manager of anatomic pathology and point of care, said one of the students who started as a volunteer ended up working as a technologist in her pathology lab.

“They get to see what the lab work is like and develop their interest in the health care field,” Spoon said.

The application requires a completed application with a parent’s signature, a recommendation letter, working papers, proof of immunizations and PPD test, per the media release.

The application can be found at www.bassett.org/medical/patients-visitors/volunteer/junior-volunteer-program and all materials must be submitted to the Volunteer Office at Bassett Medical Center by June 8.

Shweta Karikehalli, staff writer, can be reached at 607-441-7221 or skarikehalli@thedailystar.com. Follow her on Twitter at @DS_ShwetaK.