When it came to my first day volunteering in the ED of the local hospital, the experience was mixed. I was glad to be helping, but I was plagued by thoughts that I was doing this for entirely selfish reasons. Having had time to reflect on this first day and having gone back again for another shift days later, I think many of these feeling were brought up by being let down in a lot of ways.
When I first signed up to volunteer I had this notion that I would be helping nurses and doctors with the patients. The reality of the situation, with all the liability concerns and HIPAA regulations, was far from what I’d imagined. There was little to no doctor contact with my position, and the nurses, while they were friendly and nice, were unable to allow me to do much. After going back a second time I was able to judge things more logically and was better able to appreciate the little things I could do for the patients.
Doing My Research Like A Good Geek Should
I had read many threads on SDN(Share Your Hospital Volunteer Experience, My Life Changing Volunteer Experience, and Getting great volunteer experience?) the night before, looking desperately to see if my experience was normal. Unfortunately for me and all the other premeds out there it looked like it was the norm with a few awesome ones thrown into the mix.
Satisfaction Not Guaranteed
The itch to do more things than push patients to their room and fetch blankets remained however. I wanted to be where the magic happened. I wanted to rub elbows with the doctors and see what they did(we are forbidden to enter rooms if there is a doctor or nurse already in there. Ugh…). As I sat in triage, waiting for the next patient to be admitted to have their history and vitals taken, I wondered if there couldn’t possibly be a way to get a better, more exciting position.
Taking things to the Head
I thought to myself, “Damn it! I won’t get anything if I sit here and do nothing.” So I quickly excused myself from the room when there was a lull and went exploring around the hospital for the volunteer administrator’s office. I wasn’t about to take this up with the people in the volunteers’ office itself, having been told by them earlier that shadowing doctors was strongly frowned upon when I casually tried to bring the topic up. What?! Seriously?!
Stick around for part two!