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So, I volunteered yesterday

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by MirrorTodd, Jul 27, 2006.

  1. MirrorTodd

    MirrorTodd It's a gas.
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    and the it was extremely slow in the ED. We just sat around and talked story all day. It was fun, but I felt bad because when the staff actually had to work, I was sitting around. I should note that it is a level 2 ED. Anyone have any other better volunteering stories? It's been like this pretty much everyother time I've volunteered. BTW I'm not complaining, I really like the hospital.
     
  2. sscooterguy

    sscooterguy Senior Member
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    When I volunteered in undergrad, it was hit or miss. One volunteer experience I sat around most of the time. I moved on and found another department where I did EKGs and they taught me a little more. My girlfriend said she did chest compressions during a code after she got certified. Its all variable. If you want to do more, try some other volunteer experience or get certified. Otherwise, if you keep trying at your current position, it may get busy too. Thats just how ERs are. Good luck.

    sscooterguy
     
  3. Gotcha!

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    I've done my share of ER volunteering - and I must say, as cliche as it sounds, you gotta put yourself out there and find stuff for yourself to do.
    If your bored, ask if there is anything you can do - maybe help restock, or file some paperwork, or work the front desk for a bit.

    Take the downtime as an opportunity to get to know some of the docs and ask them questions..follow them around if they allow you to.

    If the hospital is big make a request to maybe hang out in surgery (ask them if you can watch at the front).

    Sometimes if a trauma comes in you can actually tag along with the people taking the patient up.

    its never really great to not have anything to do - but sometimes the downtime can be nice.
     
  4. MirrorTodd

    MirrorTodd It's a gas.
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  5. booswim542

    booswim542 Walkin' on Sunshine
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    I really got bored in the ER, and I decided that it would help other people out more and give me more hands on experience volunteering at a hospice. It really has given me better insight into patient care and has let me see a different side of medicine. I love it.
     
  6. deuist

    deuist Stealthfully Sarcastic
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    If you got bored with one place, you are certainly welcome to go elsewhere. There's more to volunteering than the ED. You could try Hospice, the Crisis Center, Habitat for Humanity, Boy Scouts, a service fraternity, a religious group, the Salvation Army... the list goes on. Or, you could get certified as a nursing assistant or EMT and really get your hands dirty. You would be employed by taking this second option---and therefore could not claim to be a volunteer---but you would gain valuable experience. Don't volunteer just because you think that doing so will make you look good to an admissions committee. You need to get something out of working with others.
     
  7. rajad10

    rajad10 Senior Member
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    duplicate experience for me. hospice is amazing if you're premed
     
  8. kypdurron5

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    It makes no difference WHY you do it...just do it, because if you want to get into medical school you're going to need "clinical experience." My volunteer experiences thus far have been about the same as yours. I do a whole lot of sitting around...but every now and then I get something that adds to my overall experience in medicine.
     
  9. MirrorTodd

    MirrorTodd It's a gas.
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    You guys all give sound advice. I like the ER that I volunteer in. It's not so crazy that I'm ignored, and the doctors and nurses are pretty cool about including me. I feel like it's a starting out point for me. A job as an ER tech or EKG tech would be cool, but I've already got a job as a medic and that would just take up more of my time. I might look into Hospice later on.
     
  10. geno2568

    geno2568 Senior Member
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    my voluneteering in the ER started the same way as yours...pretty much nothing to do

    and i wasnt allowed to do much, either

    i asked the doc one day if i could shadow him..he said yes...it was great
    did that every week

    then one day, one of the nurses got angry for whatevr reason and told on me to the volunteer director

    he told me i couldnt shadow

    so i stopped volunteering
     
  11. rcd

    rcd .2K Member
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    :eek: What did the nurses have against it? Pt privacy or something?

    In ED downtime you can:
    1. Follow a tech and watch/learn taking vitals, setting up 12-leads, UAs, etc.
    2. Talk to EMS people.
    3. Go exploring.
    4. Talk to pts and their families.
    5. Read a book at the desk.
     
  12. jackieMD2007

    jackieMD2007 ***MVI***
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    Team, it is a GOOD THING that the ED is slow. It means no one is having horrific accidents or whatever. :laugh:
     
  13. geno2568

    geno2568 Senior Member
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    i think the nurse was just in a bad mood.....they all knew about it for months, and no one did anything

    they are really by the books in this hospital, so we cant do much. They are very well staffed, so they dont really need us

     
  14. mam4993

    mam4993 Member
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    the key is really to shop around until you find an awesome place. I personally cannot deal with volunteering at a big hospital because A) it's a big damn hospital and everything they need to be done they already have someone on staff to do it and B) they are usually already very overrun with pre-med types. It is my life goal to avoid gunners for as long as humanly possible. So my hospital experiences sucked for me. Answer the phone, ask the secretary who humored me by letting me answer the phone what to do about the caller, sit, sit, run an errand for a nurse, sit some more, feel embarrased and in the way. Then I proceeded on a very long search for a decent clinical volunteer experience (very long and almost completely fruitless story) and finally I found a free clinic that treats the homeless population that was in pretty dire need of a volunteer. And even better, it's affiliated with the big hospital so I am technically still volunteering with them. It's not awesome but it's surely better than feeling pointless! If you're frustrated just keep looking.
     
  15. gildas

    gildas Senior Member
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    Hey Man, if you want get the best out of your ER experience, try a level one trauma center and try to volunteer on Friday or Saturday nights. That is when you get all kind of trauma cases. My experience at Maricopa Medical Center was all worth it. The nurses and the residents were so nice. they let me take vitals, and stayed in the Trauma room whenever. I also was able to stay on call with a trauma team and I spent some times in the OR. That whole experience was incredible, but I had to talk the coordinator in the surgery department. They don't let students do that often but she let me because I have always gone and talked to her.
     
  16. -Lexi-

    -Lexi- The high cost of living
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    Am I sick for actually enjoying the action that goes on in the ER? It's almost as bad as wishing these (sometimes-dangerous/usually-weird) things upon people! :laugh:
     
  17. thedelicatessen

    thedelicatessen In Memory of Riley Jane
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    I totally understand where you're coming from. There were many times during my volunteer experiences when I was just twiddling my thumbs. Even though there are a lot of opportunities for learning in the hospital, sometimes I think we just need to accept that we aren't really medical professionals and are therefore somewhat limited in what we can do as volunteers. I would recommend being patient because some days will be better than others. Have fun!
     
  18. kypdurron5

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    Lol, when I first read that I thought you said "I would recommend being A patient..." lol >). I guess that would work too ;)
     
  19. MirrorTodd

    MirrorTodd It's a gas.
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    That would be a good exp. Get to see things from the other side. Plus you could give the ED staff a great story to tell. "Well, I was standing on the corner minding my own business. When, two dudes come out of nowhere and stab me with a knife."
     
  20. defrunner

    defrunner I'm Greased Up
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    Haha, well since you ask, I might as well mention this story about volunteering.

    One time, I was sitting around in the ED (I know how slow it can get) and I was talking to my friend from college who I somehow got to be able to volunteer in the same department as me. He was about fifteen feet away from me; we were by the entrance to the ED, and this little girl was waiting with her mother quietly.

    All of a sudden, the little girl comes up to me and states clearly, "I have a broken toe."

    Surprised, and being profoundly hearing-impaired, I glanced over to my friend but he shrugged as though he didn't know what she said. Being a careful volunteer and all, I wanted to double check this tiny, but somehow important, fact.

    "I'm sorry, what did you say?"

    Again, she states, "I have a broken toe."

    Well, that was enough for me, and I got up to talk to the chief nurse of the department, with whom I was on comfortable speaking terms with (she was friends with my mother). I explain the situation and tell her about the little girl having a broken toe. She looks at me and then to the little girl, who's still standing quietly by where I was sitting. She summons a bunch of other nurses and doctors over, and then the crowd heads to the little girl en masse.

    The mother, seeing the commotion, is bewildered and naturally goes to the crowd. After a minute or two, the crowd disperses and nobody looks at me in the eye. I'm obviously confused at this point. The head nurse then comes over to me, and she says,

    "The little girl was trying to tell you, "I have to blow my nose.""

    It was then that I knew I would never become an attending physician in the Emergency Department.
     
  21. defrunner

    defrunner I'm Greased Up
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    Anyone have other good, bad, or 'ehh' volunteering stories? Just curious, because I'm sure that someone somewhere has had some kind of experience sometime.
     
  22. somemaybedoc

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    I agree with some others ER's are usually hit or miss.

    Am I the only one who likes calling it an emergency room...
     
  23. somemaybedoc

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    No that's normal I was in a dedicated level I trauma center and I was always hanging out at the dispatch reception area waiting for something interesting to be called in. The guy who carjacked someone and then rolled it was entertaining cause he really wanted to escape. :D
     
  24. deuist

    deuist Stealthfully Sarcastic
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    No, lots of people incorrectly use that term to describe the emergency department. From another thread:

    I will tell you that you need to get the nomenclature right:

    EM = Emergency medicine. The field of fast-paced medicine.
    EP = Emergency physician. Someone who practices EM.
    ED = Emergency department. The place where it all goes down.

    Note, there is no such thing as an "ER." Even though popular media likes to use the term "emergency room," a hospital will have many rooms that are dedicated to emergency medicine. If you start throwing around the word "ER" while in an ED, expect to get corrected by at least two people before you leave. The emergency medicine thread on SDN has some interesting stories of med students' saying, "I want to be an ER doc," to residency program directors during interviews. The PD's are not so forgiving.
     
  25. somemaybedoc

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    I guess it's because the ED I was in was quite literally one big room with some glass partitions.
     
  26. leviathan

    leviathan Drinking from the hydrant
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    Why would you go up to the chief nurse and have a crowd forming over a broken toe? Must be a slow emerg! :p
     
  27. leviathan

    leviathan Drinking from the hydrant
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    A volunteer doing chest compressions during a code? I'm sorry but that sounds pretty questionable.
     
  28. leviathan

    leviathan Drinking from the hydrant
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    There is NEVER any down time in my ED (it is the region's trauma centre), but sometimes after I have dealt with everyone waiting to be triaged, I'll be bored. I try to walk around and watch some stuff, peek into the trauma rooms and see what's going on, or talk to EMS. I've seen some pretty crazy stuff there over the years including a GSW to the head (gray matter on the gurney), a guy walk in on his own with a penetrating nail injury to his L-spine (no neuro deficits), and a family that brought their brother/son in on a wheelchair with a GCS of 3 and a gaping skull fracture waiting patiently in line before I came up and flipped out and got the EP out there with some nurses to bring back to trauma. Good times! :laugh:
     
  29. burntfries

    burntfries Senior Member
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    i've done it too...pretty scary stuff! esp when the guy dies on you :(
     
  30. Tori's dad

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  31. MirrorTodd

    MirrorTodd It's a gas.
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    I'm in a level 2 trauma center so we have only one "trauma room." It's not like patients aren't always coming in, because they are. However, when it comes serious trauma and such they get routed to our one level 1 center. I'm not complaining though. I like it and I'm not volunteering there to see if I want to be an emergency physician. I'll save that stuff for shadowing I suppose. I feel like I've seen enough trauma in my life where I can talk freely and intelligently about how it affected me.
     
  32. 8744

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    Why? The person running the code is in charge and can designate people to help him out. If the volunteer is doing good chest compressions then why stop him, especially if he has a BLS card?

    Liabilty etc. I get it. Compressing the chest is not rocket science.

    P. Bear, MD
    Emergency Medicine Resident
    Chest Compressions Are a Kind of Scut Work
     
  33. tncekm

    tncekm MS-1
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    LOL...that one made me lmao :D :laugh:
     
  34. Siggy

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    Chances are if the Pt is already in asystole when brought in by EMS then the patient is already dead (had 2-3 of those while volunteering and 1 during my EMT-B clinical). While volunteering in the hospitals ECU (side note, ER, ECU (Emergency care unit), ED is all the same. Do surgeons get so up tight when their department is called a "room" too? What about when the majority of the department IS one room?) I was able to sit in on a few cardioversions, suturing, being a gopher during critical patients (help set up the monitor, hand supplies, etc), see my fair share of RSI's, and other such things (this was at a non-trauma center).

    When I was up on the floors, I basically picked the tele-tech's brain during down time to pick up as much EKG interpretation as possible. I found that my experiences on the floors was much more geared towards nursing care then medicine, but that is just as important as seeing the procedures. Remember, the nurses are your eyes and hands when you aren't there, which is the vast majority of the day.
     
  35. elliot

    elliot Junior Member
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    I've worked in a Level One Trauma Center, Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens New York... There is never a slow day, we saw about 400 people on avg a day, mostly bs that can be cured with tylenol/nightquil/swift kick in the .... However every day there is at lease one interesting Cardiac or Trauma where my co-worker and me would stand in the middle of the Trauma team in amazement. I've always told people that I wanted to become a physician because of "Scrubs" (nbc show..?) but in reality the unforgettable experiences with patients, family, staff is the reason why I really want to get into this field.. As a side note, if you are lacking motivation volunteering in a busy ER is the way go..
     
  36. notdeadyet

    notdeadyet Still in California
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    I'd be careful about #5. In many programs, it's not allowed. And in many, it's just plain frowned on.
     
  37. gujuDoc

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    I've never done ER volunteering but I've done several child life volunteering and recently have been invited to volunteer at health fairs. Its fun. We read to kids in the waiting room with the national program Reach out and Read for one of the clinics I volunteer at. For Shriners when I was there we used to play games with the kids or do crafts. At All Childrens right now we basically do arts and crafts or play games with the kids. Some days we have a lot of down town if there are not that many patients, and other days we are constantly busy. Its that way at both clinics. But All Children's is cool because you get to volunteer all over the hospital. You aren't stuck in one particular position. if you are there during the morning time when surgery recovery has patients you can always go back there and volunteer. if help is needed in the front you can help with them. if you are needed in the rehab waiting rooms you can go back to that side of the clinic. So you can get to know the whole clinic. Its really a fun place because it is like the patch adams version of a children's health care center.
     
  38. jackieMD2007

    jackieMD2007 ***MVI***
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    :laugh: :thumbup:
     
  39. leviathan

    leviathan Drinking from the hydrant
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    You're right, it is NOT rocket science, but who in their right mind would let them start doing the chest compressions in the first place? I'm assuming this person just took a CPR course, and is not an experienced EMT. It sounds like I was obviously wrong in my suspicions based on all the responses, so I guess things are just very different between our two countries in what volunteers are allowed to do. The difference here is because of liability: If a malpractice suit was filed for whatever reason and the prosecution found out a candy striper was doing chest compressions, they would have a field day with that case.
     
  40. notdeadyet

    notdeadyet Still in California
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    If you're doing chest compressions the patient is (hopefully) dead. Can you give negligent care to a corpse? It'd be an interesting case.

    I'm not a doctor, but I'm curious: during medical school, do doctors have significantly more training in chest compressions than your average EMT or nurse? Lots of cardiac training, but is there some special training in chest compressions that a doctor gets that Joe Sixpack in the CPR class doesn't?
     
  41. MirrorTodd

    MirrorTodd It's a gas.
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    I don't believe so, but I think the problem is that the EMT's/nurses/docs are paid to do that while the volunteer is unpaid. I think it's that people would argue that the hospital lowered the standard of care for the cardiac arrest patient by allowing an unpaid/unexperienced volunteer do CPR. I've had a CPR cert. for 4 years now and I've done CPR 0 times.
    Oh and about the book thing, it seems ok at my department. I grabbed the nurses ACLS book and started flipping through while the doc and the nurses were chatting about traffic.
     
  42. leviathan

    leviathan Drinking from the hydrant
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    The lawyers don't see the patient as dead; they see the patient as a person who had a fighting chance at life that was stripped away by a volunteer with only a CPR ticket doing chest compressions when there were several physicians right behind him/her. I'm not saying their argument is justified, but I know that's the kind of dirty trick a lawyer will try to play. This is assuming your scenario of an asystolic trauma arrest x 45 mins just arriving to hospital. But then you have the ethical dilemma of whether or not someone wants a volunteer flogging their dead corpse just to put it on their med school application. If the patient is dead, then the patient is dead, and don't subject their body to any unnecessary trauma.

    Not really. It's a pretty simple maneouvre that anyone can learn. That said, the only real issue I *would* have with a CPR trained person doing it over a physician/paramedic/nurse is that the former has probably never done CPR before, and the latter has a lot of experience with it. CPR is exceedingly simple to do, but does a person taking a CPR course remember all of the smaller details a few weeks after the course, such as ensuring locked arms, being directly perpendicular to the chest, equal time spent compressing in and out, compressing the right distance into the chest appropriate to the age, doing it at the right rate, and all the other little things that help to optimize cardiac output?
     
  43. leviathan

    leviathan Drinking from the hydrant
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    Are you an EMT-B? I recommend taking an ACLS course if that is permitted in your area.
     
  44. gujuDoc

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    Leviathan,

    I don't know about the person who posted above, but where I'm at its a bit different.

    If you are in a private hospital you most likely won't get to do much due to liability issues. HOWEVER......

    if you are in an ACADEMIC hospital, then anything is fair game. Some people will only let you observe them but others will let you learn simple tasks. I have a friend that shadows one of the USF surgeons, and the surgeon allows him to learn basic sutures and minor tasks. Generally speaking the patients don't mind because it is a teaching hospital and they know that med students, residents, and nursing students are always there. There really is no difference between a premed and a 1st year med student learning to do the same tasks (during preceptorship hours), except that the med student has that official status of saying they are already in medical school.
     
  45. MirrorTodd

    MirrorTodd It's a gas.
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    Ya EMT-B, not sure about the ACLS part. I'll have to check on that. At my volunteer hospital that have rules and regs. laid out very clearly. Basically, it's "you're not allowed to touch any of the patients." Nevertheless, it's a small ED and I'm sure that if I push I'll be able to at the very least observe what they are doing with patients.
     
  46. leviathan

    leviathan Drinking from the hydrant
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    That's the same policy my hospital has where I volunteer. Still, I'm always willing to bend the rules a bit and I do simple treatments on patients walking in the ED waiting for triage (eg. treating a hemorrhage, bandaging and/or applying pressuer if needed, slinging fractured arms/forearms and applying ice, wrapping ankles with tensor bandages for pt. discharges, etc). I'll repeat that you need to know your boundaries, but if the situation is appropriate and you have the training, nobody is going to be apprehensive about your pt. care if it is only helping a person out while they wait for higher care. That said, I wouldn't in a million years be back in one of the trauma rooms during a code unless it was to get information for family members waiting outside. Although that would be the day for an EMT-B (Leviathan, come back here and I'll teach you how to intubate this patient!). ;)
     
  47. Sol Rosenberg

    Sol Rosenberg Long Live the New Flesh!
    Physician 10+ Year Member

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    Definitely varies from place to place. Everybody (nurses, etc) that works in the ER/ED where I volunteer answers the phone "Blah Blah ER...."

    So, ER isn't always the incorrect term.
     
  48. kypdurron5

    10+ Year Member

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    This is definitely splitting hairs...everyone knows it as the ER, and that's what language is all about, using words with common meanings that people can understand. Plus, when I hear "ED," emergency department is not the first thing I think of.....
     
  49. MEG@COOL

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    I volunteered in a tier 1 hospital and it was this way usually also.
     
  50. geno2568

    geno2568 Senior Member
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    in the hospital where I shadowed, it was called the ER
     

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