Ensuring Quality of Care

Instilling Volunteer Expectations

Volunteers are to take the position of medical volunteer as seriously as they would their own job. While mistakes are possible (i.e. morning alarm doesn’t go off), no-shows are unacceptable and volunteers must take this seriously as patient lives are on the line.

Expectations should be addressed with the volunteer prior to the start of training, via recruitment email, AND re-addressed at the end of training. The following expectations should be emphasized:

  • Adhere to minimum volunteer time requirements- twice weekly for the first 6 months of volunteering; once weekly afterwards.
  • Work efficiently to treat patients in a timely manner and to respect their co-volunteers' time.
  • Prevent spread of disease by following Isolation, Scrubbing Out, Disinfectant and Hand Washing protocols.
  • Know medications and all dangers/side effects if administered incorrectly.
  • Keep the ICU tidy by cleaning up after themselves.

See Medical Volunteer Expectations for more detailed information.

Initial Training

Thorough, effective training at the beginning on volunteering is the most valuable tool to ensure quality of care. With the proper principles instilled from the start of volunteering, members will be able to adapt as new protocols are introduced.

Training can be done by the manager as well as volunteers who wish to help with training. Volunteers should be encouraged to teach, as this re-enforces their knowledge and provides lots of confidence. However, teaching can be difficult work and takes practice and lots of patience. Ensure volunteers are properly trained to teach. The manager should train on Day 1 and Day 6.

Provide as many hands on and interactive training opportunities as possible. Starting from Day 1, have the trainee read the med chart, find the drugs in their stored locations, draw them up, and administer SQ medications. If no dogs in the ICU need SQ medications on Day 1, practice with a 3cc syringe filled with LRS. To enforce memorization of important drug facts including route and dangers/side effects, explain the drugs and quiz the trainee throughout the entire training.


  • A 6 shift training curriculum for the trainee is available at Medical Trainee Curriculum. The curriculum is to be complete in 2-3 weeks (3 weeks max). Trainees should be expected to read and watch all materials prior to the training shifts. The curriculum is in place to ensure that all material is being covered during the training session, and that training is done as efficiently as possible.
  • A consolidated curriculum guide for trainers to follow can be downloaded (for hard copy print) at the bottom of this page.
  • End-of-day training quizzes are also available for each day of training in the Medical Trainee Curriculum page and should be completed at the end of the training shift (in the Parvo ICU) or afterwards (at home).
  • A Training Guidelines reference is provided for tips on how to train effectively and can be used to train other volunteers who are interested in teaching.


While thorough medical knowledge and skill is essential for medical volunteers, an emphasis must be placed on efficiency, and practiced towards the end of training. This is especially important during the peak parvo season, which occurs during the summer (generally in southern states due to the nature of the virus) when the ICU often has an average of 15-20 patients but as high as 35 patients. Medical staff and volunteers should have a goal of treating 4-5 dogs/hour. Efficiency guidelines are provided in Day 5 & 6 of the Medical Trainee Curriculum


An emphasis should be placed on volunteers ethically conducting treatments. It is inevitable that volunteers will not know information they are expected to know to perform a proper treatment, and volunteers must feel comfortable and able to ask for clarification or answers in order to ensure proper treatment. Additionally, when mistakes occur, it is vital that volunteers know the importance of admitting the mistake so it can be corrected, if possible. They should know that one-off mistakes will not affect their ability to continue to be a volunteer, but chronic mistakes will result in a reduction of responsibilities (no longer administering medical treatments).

Continued Training

The Parvo Program has many, many protocols and it is likely for certain protocols to be overlooked with time. Occasional reminders may need to be sent to the team on protocols that are either not being followed well (blankets and laundry), or ones that don't come up frequently. The following are examples of reminders that may need to be sent as individual emails:

  • Maintaining isolation for other diseases (i.e. when suspect Distemper cases are in the ICU)
  • Toilet maintenance (if toilet is becoming frequently clogged

End Of Shift (EOS) Report can include minor reminders. It is recommended to send out a separate email for larger issues. For important reminders or new protocols, it is recommended to send a separate email and ask all volunteers to reply to confirm they have read the new protocol

Other examples of when continued training may be needed:

  • Proper training/communication & follow-up when new medical protocols are created
  • Retraining volunteers after extended absences