The hours are early and the work isn't the most glamorous. But it's the experience of working in a hospital that makes it worth their while.
The Hilton Head Hospital Junior Volunteers program has flourished in recent years, bringing in high school and college students to work in various departments through the summer.
Fourteen students are participating this summer. All but one are college-age, a higher than usual number, partly attributable to the growing south of the Broad River campuses of the Technical College of the Lowcountry and the University of South Carolina Beaufort, said program coordinator Jody MacLeod.
The program also attracts an array of students from Southeastern colleges, most with local ties to the area. Their interest in participating can range from a proposed career in the health care field to a desire for a volunteer opportunity.
Clemson University sophomore Christina Macropoulos wants to go into her school's physical therapy program. But before applying, students need 100 hours of volunteer work with physical therapists. The Hilton Head Island High School graduate returned home for the summer, getting placed through the volunteer program in the hospital's physical rehabilitation center.
She volunteers two days a week for four hours. Her main duties are custodial, cleaning off benches and mats or changing pillows. But as part of it she gets to observe the actual physical therapy treatments, learning exactly what it means to be a therapist.
"It made me realize that this is what I want to do," she said.
The junior volunteers, who are approved after an application process of interviews and reference checks, serve as needed fill-ins during the summer, MacLeod said. Many of the adult volunteers go on vacation, leaving the junior volunteers available to pick up the slack.
"Not only do the volunteers get some good experience but they can add value to our patients' stay," MacLeod said.
Braxton Kirby, a junior at Hilton Head Preparatory School, joined the program on the advice of his mother, who had also once volunteered. He helps patients who arrive at the medical pavilion get to where they need to go.
Braxton said initially didn't know much about hospitals, and his plan after college is to go to The Citadel for an engineering degree, then possibly follow that with a law degree. But watching the inner workings of a hospital has caught his interest. In fact, he's not ruling out health care as a possible career.
"It's been amazing," he said. "I've loved it all."