According to the Dalai Lama, "Practicing compassion not only makes others happy, but it also makes you happy." I have experienced the truth of this statement firsthand through my experiences as a volunteer at Ochsner Medical Center, a prominent hospital located in my hometown of New Orleans. Having volunteered in the patient escort department since my junior year of high school, I have had a wealth of opportunities to interact with and positively impact the lives of hospital patients.
When I first started volunteering at Ochsner, I did it simply because it would "look good" on my college application. What better way than to volunteer at a hospital? When I chose to volunteer, I knew I wouldn't want to do a job that required me to do what I considered "busy work," such as answering phone calls, filing packets, or restocking medical supplies all day without the opportunity to interact with patients. I enjoy social work environments, and therefore chose to volunteer in the patient escort department because it gave me an opportunity to interact directly with patients. .
At first, I was a bit anxious and nervous because I had never interacted with a sick patient in a hospital setting, nor had I operated a hospital wheelchair and stretcher. I was afraid that I would mess up and accidently crash a stretcher or wheel chair while transporting a patient. One time, for example, I unknowingly and abruptly lifted a patient's leg onto the wheelchair footrest, aggravating the leg he just had surgery on. After learning through trial and error and working with the hospital transport staff for a period of time, I became more comfortable and proficient with my duties; eventually I was trusted to do patient hospital discharges without any assistance. Whether I was discharging a mother who had just delivered a baby, an elderly man who had just had leg surgery, or a patient who had just had an organ transplant, I was extremely fortunate to be able to interact with and transport patients of all types.