355 East Erie
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

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NOTE: Volunteer programs are suspended until further notice due to COVID-19.


Volunteers are central to how patients and families feel about their care at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab. We cherish our volunteers because they add diversity, dimension and vibrancy to how we — and you — express compassion.

There is no other research hospital in the world that will be practicing “translational” medicine, i.e., research will be directly applied (or “translated”) during therapy, with doctors and researchers working in the same space, real time, 24/7, with patients. Our stunning building is architecturally designed to create this seamless integration.

Submit an application below to learn more about our year-round volunteer program, or view information about the Summer Experience Volunteer Program currently recruiting.


In matching our volunteers to opportunities, we work at balancing organizational needs with your interests, skills, talents and schedule. As integral members of our healthcare team, the contributions of volunteers are far-reaching:

  • Administrative support — Providing office support service to help with patient care administration during business hours.
  • Child and adolescent services — Helping children by providing encouragement, assisting with meals and participating in recreational activities during weekdays and in the evenings.
  • Patient services — Visiting adult patients and sharing in their lives by helping them read mail, write letters, make phone calls, eat meals and participate in activities and events during weekdays and in the evenings.
  • Therapy sessions — Working with staff and patients in physical and occupational therapy group sessions during weekday mornings and afternoons.
  • Therapeutic recreation — Reinforcing social and therapeutic processes by helping patients participate in crafts, games and entertainment activities during weekday evenings.
  • Adaptive Sports and Fitness Program  — Providing support to athletes and program coordinators during Adaptive Sports Program practices and competitions, and helping out with and chaperoning Caring for Kids Programs. Daytime, evening and weekend volunteer opportunities are available in a wide variety of sports and fitness activities.

How Do Volunteers Make A Difference?


Requirements for Volunteering

  • 5 hour orientation session
  • 150 Hour Commitment 
  • Medical Requirements, including TB testing
  • Criminal Background Check (18 years and older)

Featured Opportunity: Summer Experience Volunteer Program


The Summer Experience Volunteer Program is designed for students who live in the Chicago area and don’t attend a local college or university. In the Summer Experience program, volunteers will have the opportunity to work directly with clinicians, scientists, innovators, technologists and patients while learning about Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, assistive technologies as well as adaptive sports and fitness at the first ever “translational” research hospital.

The program is available to Sophomore, Junior and Senior students from undergraduate and graduate programs from a variety of majors, including, but not limited to:  Biology, Exercise Science, Kinesiology, Pre-Physical or Occupational Therapy, Speech and Language Pathology.

To have their applications be considered, volunteers must meet the following requirements:

  • Must submit an application between February 1 - 29, 2020. Applicants will be notified of their status the week of March 16, 2020.
  • Must be able to commit to a consistent shift(s) for 10 - 12 consecutive weeks between May and August 2020, and complete 100 hours of volunteering including four hours at an off-site event.

If selected, applicants must complete the following steps:

  1. Immunization record review including: MMR, verification of Varicella
  2. Criminal background check, provided by Shirley Ryan AbilityLab
  3. Online orientation
  4. On-site tour and training session
  5. TB Quantiferon blood draw, provided by Shirley Ryan AbilityLab
  6. Complete volunteer profile with emergency contact

For questions or comments about this opportunity, email

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