Spastic about starting hospital volunteer program in 2 hours

Dec 29, 2009
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Pre-Medical
I am having severe anxiety about this! :scared:

I am normally very outgoing and extroverted and confident but the idea of being a nobody peon and bugging everyone and being in everyone's way is driving me batty. Plus the outfit we have to wear is ridiculous.

Im going to be in the ER so hopefully its more upbeat and busy than other departments I could've ended up in. Im sure it will be fine but I just can't seem to calm down. Doesn't help that I'm reading through older threads about hospital volunteering horror stories...
 

GlamDoc

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:) Don't worry. At all.

I'm an ER volunteer too, and while it was a bit intimidating at first (don't expect anything from the staff other than simple greetings on your first day), I've made great friendships with most of the staff after a while. You're a volunteer, not responsible for anything there. Just do what they ask, have fun, and be proactive! I can guarantee that if you tag along with the staff (especially the nurses, but don't be in their faces), your ER experience can be awesome. Don't be shy! And it might take a few shifts, but you'll get comfortable.

Have fun!
 
Dec 29, 2009
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Thanks!

Did they give you any training or direction the first day? Or was it just a lot of standing around? I was given some kind of scavenger hunt I'm supposed to fill out and turn into the charge nurse LOL
 
Dec 29, 2009
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It is invigoratingly lame. Unless you have a conveyor belt of awesome cases being brought in on stretchers be prepared to be bored stocking nurse carts, offering soda pop, and running [more like strolling] samples to the lab.

I mean it isn't a horrible waste, but it is far from something to be anxious about.
I just feel like my official role is "douche bag".

I don't mind meaningless tasks as long as I get to stay busy. What I dread is standing there with nothing to do while people stare at me with that "wtf are you doing/why are you here" look in their eyes
 

Frazier

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What I dread is standing there with nothing to do while people stare at me with that "wtf are you doing/why are you here" look in their eyes
No one [employees] will likely think this because they have seen many volunteers come before you and (as a result) understand what the position entails and expect it.

Keep your eyes open for some cool cases, get a little interaction [chatty] with patients and daydream about other things. :thumbup:

EDIT: if you're worried about being idle -- you don't have to be. If you wanted you could spend your entire shift walking the halls, listening to docs, stocking carts, running labs, maybe wondering into other departments for a couple minutes, etc. But 4 hours of straight walking gets tiring and sometimes you just want to lean up against the nurse's station and think about SDN <3
 

tremulousNeedle

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Be interested. Be eager. Enjoy the experience. Know when it is appropriate to ask questions; hold back when it is not. You'll find out who is helpful and likes your questions, stick with them.

If you see someone in distress, figure out what their problems is (Diabetic ketoacidosis, acute heart failure, COPD exacerbation, etc) and store what they looked like in your head. Keep the observations simple, I know you’re not a med student or doctor yet. See how their breathing is, labored, shallow, normal. Look for swelling of the ankles. See if they are mentally appropriate, confused, psychotic, depressed.

I worked in an ED for 3 years before starting medical school. It was an awesome experience. With regards to medical knowledge, I am at roughly the same level as my peers. However, with regards to medical intuition, I am far ahead of my classmates because of my ED experience. Granted by the end of residency most of us will be on the same page, but at the start of residency I am going to miss a little less and be able to make more of my early clinical experiences because I have already had 3 good years in the ED.

Good luck. I hope you have a blast.
 
Dec 29, 2009
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Pre-Medical
Thanks for all the supportive responses. I am planning to be as acutely aware as possible. I am on my way to the hospital as we speak. I'm determined to be positive and if it sucks anyway I'm gonna try and keep my eye on the prize haha
 

TheMan21

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Oct 13, 2009
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I just feel like my official role is "douche bag".
This is often what volunteering in the ER devolves into. For any activity you can think of doing, there is someone there in the ER who is paid to do it. Stick with it for a while, see for yourself what a waste of time it is, and then transfer to another department. Remember, cool cases may come into the ER, but since you're a volunteer you can't (and shouldn't) go anywhere near them. You may luck out a find a doc who will take time out to explain medical stuff to you, but this will be the exception rather than the rule.

Just my two cents.
 
Dec 29, 2009
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Just got home. Things went great! I picked a great hospital and a great time slot. It was busyyyyyy, had only 1 room open at a given time, our of 26 beds. The other volunteers in that time slot said it is always busy.

There was another volunteer assigned to my time slot who is also and EMT and she took me under her wing and showed me the ropes. She knew almost all of the medical terms being used and the treatments being performed as well as the uses for all the items we were restocking.

Basically, with her pressuring me, they let us just walk into whatever room we wanted and stand in the corner and observe. Some patients referred to me as a nurse despite the huge volunteer patch on my left pocket.

Got to stand in the corner of a room while an elderly woman straight off the ambulance was coding. The doctor/nurses pretty much pretended like we weren't there but my co-volunteer said always wear your gloves because sometimes the drs/nurses/techs will ask for your help. (not sure what this means)

In addition to that I retrieved meal trays, helped a disabled patient cut and eat her food, helped a woman use the toilet (lol), transported a patient up to surgery, cleaned several rooms, restocked a bunch of nurses carts, escorted visitors in, directed patients and their family through the ER etc. The nurses/techs would page over the loud speaker for any available volunteer when they needed anything. Made me feel super productive to answer the call haha

A few nurses were rude but that's their problem. Im super excited I feel like I've already learned so much! I look forward to next week and all coming weeks!
 
Dec 29, 2009
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Just wanted to note that this hospital is about 10 blocks from a medical school. Its not affiliated but several of the volunteers are undergrads at that institution and I am part of a special internship program set up with my university so it seems like the entire hospital is more receptive to volunteers and has a more concrete program, just based on other experiences I've read on SDN. The entire staff seemed very used to volunteers and didn't really stop to ask my name just said "OH can you help" lol
 
Feb 10, 2010
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sounds good...it helps when there are other volunteers at your level that you get to work with.
 
May 7, 2009
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Be proactive. They often get a lot of volunteer who will sit in the corner until the trauma alarms go off. Stock sheets, gowns, etc or whatever your volunteer staff said you could do. You probably won't get too much interaction with the MD's, but oh well... Still a great way to spend the night!