What is the volunteer medical advocate?

Volunteer medical advocates are the backbone of our organization. Through our volunteer medical advocates, Resilience is able to reach hundreds of survivors who seek care in a hospital following an experience of sexual violence. Our volunteer medical advocates complete 60 hours of training and then agree to assist us with our on-call rotation by being on-call to hospitals throughout the Chicago area. Our medical advocates are trained to provide crisis intervention and offer emotional support to survivors and their loved ones. Additionally, volunteer medical advocates are there ensure that survivors are aware of the options and rights available to them. Our volunteers advocate with medical providers and law enforcement on behalf of the survivor with the survivor’s consent. Lastly, our volunteers are able to connect survivors with ongoing trauma therapy services, medical advocacy and legal advocacy through our agency staff. We are only able to serve so many survivors each year because of the assistance of our incredible volunteer medical advocates.

What is the volunteer commitment?

We ask that all advocates volunteering with the medical advocacy program commit to picking up 24 on-call shifts (at a minimum of 2 shifts per month). Each shift is 12 hours spanning from 7am-7pm, and 7pm-7am. Volunteer advocates will choose when they want to be on the schedule.

Per funding requirements, all volunteer medical advocates will be required to be fingerprinted and consent to a criminal background check and a background check with the Department of Children and Family Services.

How has COVID-19 impacted the volunteer medical advocacy program?

During this unprecedented time, we have had to make a number of changes to continue to meet the needs of survivors. Our 60-hour volunteer training has been moved to an online platform. All the learning and roleplays are conducted live and remotely. Additionally, we have moved all the intake forms and other documents to electronic platforms so that volunteers can submit client paperwork electronically without needing to come into our offices.

Is it possible to volunteer without signing a volunteer contract?

Yes, but you should note that we prioritize seats in the training for folks that are willing to sign the volunteer contract with us.

What if I don’t live in the Chicago area?

Unfortunately to volunteer with us in this capacity, volunteer medical advocates must be able to arrive to the hospitals that we serve within the hour. If you live outside the city of Chicago we may be able to help you connect with a crisis center in your area who may also welcome your support. If you live in the adjacent suburbs and have access to reliable transportation, we might be able to work with that. You can also find your local center by searching https://icasa.org/crisis-centers .

Is it necessary to complete a background check in order to volunteer with Resilience?

Yes. Per our funding requirements all those involved in our work will be required to be fingerprinted and provide consent for us to run a criminal background check. Additionally, we are required to request a background check with the Department of Children and Family Services. The results may implicate one’s ability to volunteer with Resilience. If you have questions about this, please connect with us directly.

Do I need a car to be able to volunteer with the medical advocacy program?

No. As long as you are able to arrive to any of our partner hospitals within 60 minutes you are welcome to utilize whatever method of transportation is best for you (car, taxi, bike, train, bus, walk, etc.) We are able to reimburse round trip for the following costs:

  • Up to $18 for parking fees and mileage roundtrip (at 57 cents/mile) for those who drive to hospitals
  • Cab fares and ride shares including Lyft and Uber (excluding tip and any additional fees)
  • CTA train/bus fares

Are there volunteer opportunities available for those who are not cisgender women?

Absolutely! We are proud that our volunteer medical advocates represent a diverse spectrum of various gender identities and expressions. We recognize that sexual violence impacts all people and further disproportionality impacts LGBTQIA+ individuals. Thus, we strive to expand our volunteer program so that survivors have the option to choose the gender identity of the advocate the prefer to work with. When we receive a request from a hospital for an advocate, we will ask the survivor if they have a gender preference for the advocate and dispatch to the hospital accordingly.

I have completed an application. Now what?

Hang tight. We will review all applications the week before the orientation session is scheduled. If your application is approved, you will receive an email after the final application due date inviting you to a virtual orientation session. There we will share more information about the program and answer questions. At that time, we will ask all participants to sign up for individual interviews which will be conducted at a later time to determine if the applicant is a good fit for our program.

When will I hear if I have been accepted into the training?

After attending an orientation session and completing an individual interview, the Advocacy Volunteer Coordinator will contact every applicant via email a week before the training starts to let them know if they have been accepted into the training. This notice will come via email.

Upon conclusion of the training, will I be a certified rape crisis counselor?

At the conclusion of the training you will receive a certificate that states that you have “completed 60–hours of sexual assault crisis intervention training in accordance with Illinois law and the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault service standards.” Individuals are only considered a Certified Rape Crisis Counselor after completing the training and while providing services on behalf of a certified rape crisis center.

What is the cost of the training?

  • Cost for those accepted into volunteer training: $75 materials fee (collected the first week of training)
  • Cost for those taking the training for professional training purposes only: $150–$300 depending on the agency
  • A sliding scale of $40–$75 is available for volunteers who may need the financial assistance

When will payment be collected?

Instructions on how to make an electronic payment will be emailed to accepted applicants.

Where will the training take place?

Due to the pandemic, our training has been moved to Zoom. Participants are asked to keep their cameras on during the training in order to maximize engagement with presenters.

What time does training start?

We will start promptly at 5:30 pm. Tardiness may be un counted as an absence.

What if I cannot make all the training dates?

We can accommodate 1 missed session ONLY. You will have to make-up those sessions by scheduling an independent make-up session with the trainer for that session. We cannot guarantee that the trainer will be able to accommodate your schedule or that the make-up session will be offered outside of the regular business day. Absolutely NO exceptions to this policy. If attendance will be a problem, we recommend you consider attending another training session. Resilience offers this training four times each calendar year.

Can I eat during the virtual training?

Absolutely!  You can eat while you learn or otherwise we will hold a 10-15 minute break each session.

As a volunteer medical advocate, can I choose which calls I will respond to?

No. When signing up for a shift, our volunteer advocates can tell us their preference as it relates to responding to particular side of the city or age of survivor and we will try to accommodate that if possible. However, our resources are limited and we will use whomever we have on-call to make sure all calls are responded to. This means that all advocates must be willing and prepared to respond to any call regardless of location, age or gender of the survivor, or the amount of time remaining on their shift.

As a volunteer advocate, what hospitals will I be expect to respond to?

When we resume in-person advocacy services, you are expected to be able to respond to all of the hospitals that we currently partner with. For a complete hospital list, please visit our website at www.ourresilience.org/what-you-need-to-know/faq .

How long is each on-call shift?

Each day we have two shifts. A shift runs from 7 am to 7 pm or 7 pm to 7 am. Advocates are responsible for signing up for shifts that work within their schedule. Advocates will not be assigned to shifts and can choose between day, night, weekday or weekend shifts. Advocates are expected to be available for dispatch throughout the entire duration of their shift. Occasionally, this may mean that an advocate will be on a hospital call beyond the 12 hours of their shift, in cases where the call may have come in later in the shift. Advocates are expected to plan accordingly for this.

How many calls will I respond to during a shift?

It is hard to predict how many hospital calls you might be asked to respond to during an on-call shift. Some advocates have taken shifts where they weren’t dispatched at all, while others have taken one, two or even three calls during the shift. We don’t have any way of predicting how many calls will come in.

Will I be responding to calls alone?

Yes. We do not use a shadowing system. Our advocates undergo extensive training involving role plays to prepare them to respond to survivors in the ER. Once an advocate has completed our training, they will be able to sign up for shifts and respond to calls independently. However, while on a call, each advocate will have ongoing access to a shift supervisor who is available to answer questions, help them navigate tricky situations and also offer emotional support. The shift supervisor will be in contact with the advocate via phone call and text.

What support systems are available for volunteers?

Trauma work can be impactful and we recognize that. The Advocacy Volunteer Coordinator is always available to volunteers to debrief calls and process emotions. They can be reached virtually by appointment or via email/telephone during office hours.

Additionally, Resilience holds a monthly virtual Volunteer Support Group where volunteers are encouraged to join us in creating safe and supportive space for one another. The purpose of this space is to discuss calls, questions, triggers, struggles, burn-out and victories as related to doing this work. Volunteers are welcome to come receive/offer support to one another. Moreover, throughout training we will partner each trainee with a mentor and mentor group who may be an additional point of contact and support. Mentors are veteran advocates who have lots of hospital experience.

Lastly, we recognize that community is important when doing this work. Resilience holds quarterly social opportunities for advocates to meet volunteers from other classes and create a larger support network. We have extended this community into virtual space by creating a private volunteer Facebook page where we celebrate one another and have conversations around relevant current events. These events will be conducted virtually for the time being.

Can I continue to volunteer with Resilience when I have completed my contract?

Absolutely! Additionally, graduated options may be available to folks who have excelled in the hospitals.

What other volunteer opportunities are available with Resilience?

At this time, we do not have other volunteer opportunities.

Are there internship opportunities available with Resilience?

Yes. Internships opportunities are available for students receiving academic credit with availability from July-June cycles with Advocacy, Education and Training, Trauma Therapy, and Development. Please note that counseling internships are only available for 2nd year Master level students in a related field. Internship vacancies can be found at www.ourresilience.org/get-involved/careers-and-internships .

What if I already have the 40-Hour certification from another state?

Because each state has their own set of sexual assault laws and standards for certification, we cannot accept out of state certificates. Individuals who were trained in another state will need to complete minimally 60 hours of training with Resilience in order to be eligible to volunteer with us.

What if I already have the 40-Hour certification from another Illinois-based crisis center?

Those who have been trained with another crisis center in Illinois will be asked to apply, attend orientation, and, if accepted, attend 20+ hours of refresher training. Refresher training takes place concurrently with our new volunteer training.