I honestly love volunteering at the Hospital! I don’t know why so many pre-med students say it is a waste of time. Today I stayed longer than my usual 3 hours, clocking in about 4.5 hours. First of all, this morning was awesome; I got up on time and made an egg sandwich. My coffee turned out badly, but there was no rush hour traffic, making the thirty minute drive to the Hospital really enjoyable, especially when there were great songs on the radio.
Arriving at the Hospital, things were calm; although we had a large number of patients, they were not all being discharged or admitted at once. The nurses were jovial, making jokes and enjoying work despite today being Friday. I hurriedly did my usual routine (organized, restock) and did the stretcher shuffle. The stretcher shuffle is the relentless dance of the loose stretchers in the hallway, moving out of the rooms with patients, fresh stretchers being moved in as soon as the patients leave. Today I actually remembered to apply the brake to the stretchers, and have begun to make the hospital beds (stretchers) relatively more quickly than before.
Through my experience as a volunteer I have learned that being attune to the feelings of others is a necessity, even though I am not a caregiver. In their time on the surgery unit, the patients may experience new life (unknown pregnancies–women are tested for HcG before their surgery begins), deaths, good results, or a bad prognosis. When I wheel the patients downstairs I try to be mindful that they may have a mix of emotions as they leave the Hospital. Therefore, most of the time I keep silent, sometimes making small talk as we reach the exit doors and wishing them a safe ride, lest wishes for a good day set them into a spiral of depression.
When my fellow volunteer arrived at the hospital we chatted as usual, and he took me on tour of the emergency room. I have never been in an emergency room before, having the fortune to never have needed to go to the emergency room and having been out-of-town when my father was taken in for minor injuries. The emergency room at the Hospital is a labyrinth; the waiting room is small and was empty when we went there. There is a row of consultation rooms, further into the maze are specialist rooms for ob/gyn, ENT, etc. There is also an isolation room for patients with particularly contagious diseases. The patient is placed in one part of the room, which is properly sealed. The health care team can view the patient from the adjoining room, courtesy of a window pane in the wall. I guess it might be kind of awkward for the patient to be all isolated, but better to be isolated than spreading tuberculosis.
Anyways, I spent a good part of the day cleaning the coffee break area and the refrigerator; I like when the areas from which the food is served is clean, just as I did when I worked in the restaurant industry. The head nurse of the surgery unit introduced me to the chief anesthesiologist of the Hospital, which was pretty cool, but somewhat awkward since our meeting was just in passing as he downed a coffee between surgeries. She also gave me a DVD about hospice care; it was only 5 minutes long and more of an infomercial than anything else, but I appreciate that she took an interest in me and wanted to teach me something.
The other volunteer told me about a time that he was allowed to shadow a urologist during a kidney stone extraction. The operation, as he described it to me, was quite intriguing. I hope that I can eventually get the same opportunity!
In other news, I’m still waiting with restless anticipation, to hear the results of my job interview, I’m hoping to continue to blog anonymously as I continue this journey, so stay on board.