My Volunteering Experience in the Medical Field
“Aaaaaah”, I heard a loud scream coming from downstairs as I ran down to the kitchen and saw my mom standing over my grandpa lying on the floor. She had tears running down her cheeks. I held her hand and shook her. “Go call 911,” I said. As, he gasped for breath and struggled to speak, I knelt down and put my hand on his heart. I loosened his shirt, bent his knees, and put a pillow under his head and shoulders. “Grandpa, you are going to be okay,” I told him. “Mom called the police and they’re on their way.” As I recalled the symptoms of a stroke from anatomy class, I knew he had just suffered one, but I also knew this wasn’t the first time.
A wise physician said, “The best medicine for humans is love.” Someone asked, “If it doesn’t work?” He smiled and answered, “Increase the dose” author unknown. Medicine is not just about pills, surgery, or prescriptions; it is about love and always smiling. After my grandmother lost her battle with uterine fibroid cancer, my grandfather became depressed and numb. The stoke he had in my family’s kitchen was not his first after her death, but this was the most challenging one to overcome. The stroke affected the left side of his brain, which caused partial vision in his right eye, poor balance, and overall weakness. He always said, “I wish God could take me so I can be with her.”I knew grieving a loss is an inevitable part of life, but anybody can overcome it with support. He refused to go to physical therapy or even take his medicine. Every day before work, I would wake him up and say, “Let’s go, Grandpa. We are going to exercise together. Grandma wouldn’t want you to be sick and miserable; she would want you to get better.” I observed many physical therapists in the past and applied everything I learned to help my grandfather. Occasionally it was challenging to carry him alone from his bed to the chair and push him to do his exercises, but he had a big smile on his face at the end. With support, smiles, and love, the patient can overcome anything.
Through volunteering and shadowing at hospitals, I gained insight into the medical field and the relationship between a patient and a doctor. While I was shadowing at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Wayne, NJ, I had the opportunity to talk to many patients, play games with them, and help them with their exercises. In the acute rehabilitation unit, I saw many patients with somber expressions as they were taken to and from the physical therapy room. When I visited them afterward to offer them water, they began to smile. From then on, before shadowing the physical therapists, I made a point to greet the patients and play cards with them if they did not have therapy. I realized that most of them had no company, and just saying “hello” or taking the time to sit with them could change their entire mood.
I observed many therapists in a variety of settings and was given the opportunity to serve as an aide, preparing treatment rooms for the patients, applying heat packs and ice, and educating and helping them onto exercise equipment. Through these opportunities, I gained a connection with each patient as I listened to them talk about their lives and showed empathy. The most important and useful support that can be given is to simply listen. Being there for a patient gave me some type of relief, as if I am making a tiny difference in someone’s life.
Medicine isn’t just about science; it’s about gathering knowledge from different areas of expertise and applying it to solve people’s problems. Volunteering and shadowing taught me that medicine challenges my problem-solving skills. I perseverate on what different tools are used for and how each specialty needs one another. For instance, while volunteering in the emergency department at a local hospital, a 27-year-old off-duty police officer was brought in-to the trauma bay. He was in a car accident with a drunk driver, and the impact fractured his spine. I witnessed how many nurses, radiologists, orthopedists, and surgeons came together to save this patient’s life.
My mind will always make me question medicine and be open to any challenges in, finding a solution. Patients need love and support, but they also need trust. A physician-patient relationship is the most important aspect. Patients put their lives in doctors’ hands and trust them to make the best and most difficult decisions for them. I want to be that driven and passionate doctor who will face any obstacle and not stop until I find the best solution. The medical field needs people with determination and imagination. Curiosity has always been part of who I am, the strength behind my interest in medicine, and I will provide the same care to others that I desire for myself.
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