In middle school, I decided to complete my Girl Scout Silver Award by making hats and booties for the newborns at Houston Methodist Hospital. It was absolutely amazing. My project advisor helped me come up with the patterns, and I taught classmates at my school how to crochet them. In the end, over 200 hats and booties were made, and it gave me the best feeling in the whole wide world. I understood how much this meant to the hospital and all the new parents, especially when the baby was too small to fit the normal size ones at the stores. However, it’s even more significant when that newborn doesn’t make it, as these crocheted items show how much we care for them and their loss.
Ever since I finished my Silver Award, I wanted to continue my services at the hospital. I continued to deliver hats and booties whenever I had the time to make them during the school year and summer, but I wanted to do more. Fortunately, this year, I was old enough to apply for the Houston Methodist Hospital’s Junior Volunteer program.
Volunteers are essentially treated like hospital employees, and we help in different areas of the hospital if selected. I sent in an application and a few weeks later, I got an e-mail back to be interviewed. Excitedly enough, I was admitted into the program! I had to do a lot of pre-work like getting TB tested. I essentially went through the same process that normal hospital volunteers went through. As I would be working in a hospital environment, I had to make sure that I was healthy and had all the required shots. It was definitely a pain, but it was all worth it in the end.
I went to orientation prior to volunteering at the hospital which was pretty cool. I got to meet some professionals in the field including the CEO of the hospital. It was really insightful and opened up my perspectives of the hospital–how it’s run and its purpose. Afterwards, I would soon start my volunteering service. I had two shifts from 9 am to 1 pm on Monday and Friday. It’s kind of like being a doctor which I thought was interesting to experience. On my first day, I got a tour of the hospital. A plus would be getting my badge to access certain areas around the hospital–that truly made me feel like a professional. It was really amazing, as I got to see some areas that no one gets to see unless you work there.
On Mondays, I worked at the 7 East Nurse Station. There’s a lot of rooms like this one in the hospital. It’s basically where patient rooms are, including the small work offices where doctors, nurses, etc. go to access computers. Here, I made daily care plans for heart and non-heart patients, cut out laminated summer decorations to set up around patient rooms, and filed patient scans into binders labeled by room number. I also stocked supplies (e.g. band-aids, wipes, etc.), blankets, gowns, and towels.
On Fridays, I volunteered in the nursery or as we call it, the NICU. In the past, when I made newborn items, I was never able to individually deliver them myself to the nursery. Now, I had access to it and could see everything in person–I could finally see what I was contributing all those hours of crocheting to. I have to say, it was astonishing. I made folders with important information for women birthing children. It was tedious, but it wasn’t boring. I knew that with each folder I made, I was not only helping the hospital, but I was contributing to the success and growth of another family, as they raise their newborn. I stocked baby items (e.g. bedding, pillow cases, blankets, wipes, wash cloths, etc.) as well.
One very interesting thing that I can participate in is the Brown Bag Lunch that occurs twice a week during the summer in which health professionals talk about themselves, offer advice, and answer questions that we may have. It’s really cool because it allows us to think about different fields in a hospital and learn more about them.
One of them was from the emergency department (ED) who took care of patients from the ambulance and worked on them for half-an-hour to an hour. I found it fascinating how he wrote publications related to physician and nurse violence, and how he does 5+ kilometer runs to destress from the job.
I also met a colon surgeon who is from Mexico. His schooling was very different from U.S. schooling because he didn’t have to take four years of college and then go to medical school but could go to medical school straight out of high school. Nevertheless, he had a major hard time getting his foot in the door, having applied to over 40 hospitals all over the place and only receiving one interview. However, connections allowed him to eventually become a surgeon at the Houston Methodist Hospital. Surprisingly enough, he did all sorts of activities from spinjitzu to dancing. That was one of the main consistencies with all of these hospital employees: they all had something to fall back on to lessen the stress from their job, especially because the hours can be taxing.
There’s also a lot of cool opportunities I learned about by volunteering at the hospital. For example, it’s possible for me to job shadow a surgeon while he or she is doing a surgery.
I’m really glad that I applied for the Junior Volunteer program and kept up with my community service during the summer. I am also thankful that I could give some of my time to help others, especially at such an important place that always needs a helping hand.
I definitely recommend this to anyone who is eligible to volunteer, and I encourage everyone to look for opportunities like this!