Finding A Second Home at the Hospital- My Summer Volunteer Experience
By Maryam Sheikh
Over the summer, I had the opportunity to become a volunteer for my local hospital. This experience has allowed me to grow in many ways and I’m immensely grateful that I have been able to give back to my community within the healthcare field.
In this article, I will elaborate on the application process, training, roles, skills, and experiences that come with volunteering at the hospital.
Firstly, at my local hospital (Credit Valley Hospital), you must be 15 years old to apply. The application includes a series of questions about why you want to volunteer, the skills that would make you a suitable candidate, and some personal information.
If you move on to the interview round, you meet with the volunteer coordinators or youth team leaders to learn more about the position and so that they can learn more about you.
If you hear back, you’re given a placement! You’re required to attend an orientation in which you learn about different hospital procedures, codes, and protocols.
I personally chose to volunteer in the Cancer Centre as a TLC volunteer. After a few training days, I became more comfortable with the healthcare professionals, fellow volunteers, and finding my way around the large facility. August, for me, consisted of 5 weekday morning shifts for about 3 and ½ hours. My role entailed helping visitors find their destinations, assisting with patient discharge, and visiting patients to provide company or help them purchase food.
At first, the experience was definitely a bit nerve wracking- it took a few days to become completely familiar with the layout of the hospital (Credit Valley is huge!). After becoming comfortable with everything though, it became an extremely rewarding experience. I found it fulfilling to sit down with patients to simply hear about their days or learn about their experiences. I got to meet new people every single day and I became quite familiar with some patients and looked forward to talking to them every day.
Volunteering at the hospital is a great experience, but it comes with its fair share of responsibility as well. Your priority as a volunteer is to provide the best and safest experience as possible for any patients or visitors that come in. You must learn how to be conscious of your surroundings, responsible on your shift, and sensitive to the different people that you interact with. Volunteering definitely develops communication skills and responsibility!
The summer quickly came to a close and I definitely knew I wanted to come back in the fall. Now, I volunteer in the Gift Shop, helping stock products, keeping the shop tidy, organizing the back room, and working on cash. I’ve met so many new volunteers and gain a bit of retail experience. All in all, Credit Valley Hospital has become a place that I have a deeper appreciation for- there is a lot of work done by all those that work there in order for patients to have as smooth experiences as possible.
If you’re a student interested in healthcare, learning about a new field, or even just lending a hand and cheering people up, I would definitely look into volunteering at your local hospital. I guarantee that you will walk away with a deeper knowledge about the healthcare field, a stronger passion for helping others, and great people such as fellow volunteers as well as patients to call friends.