Internship: Volunteering at the Cleveland Clinic


Name: Catalin Dragomirescu

Type of Project: Internship, volunteering at the Cleveland Clinic

  1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project. Write two

or three sentences describing the main activities your STEP Signature Project


Over this past summer, I got the chance because of STEP to volunteer at the Cleveland Clinic. The volunteer position I had was under the cardiovascular unit (J6-2). My responsibilities contained going room to room and checking on patients and talking to them, stocking the supply cabinets, and anything else that the nurses in my unit required.


  1. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your

view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP

Signature Project? Write one or two paragraphs to describe the change or

transformation that took place.

            Completing my STEP Signature Project had a huge impact on me. Growing up, especially now as a college student, I have a lot of activities going on daily and I am stressed about all sorts of things. As a volunteer at the Cleveland Clinic this past summer I got the chance to go and interact with all sorts of patients from all throughout the United States. While talking to the different patients, a lot of them shared their lives stories with me. What I learned has changed my outlook on life. Some days I would talk to patients that were at the hospital from as far as California with no family members nearby and no one to keep them company.  Seeing the look on their face and just how much their mood changed when they had someone to talk to made a lasting impact on me. It made me realize that sometimes as students or just adults we take for granted the most basic things in our life’s, such as just having someone to talk to or keep you company. My experience as a volunteer taught me to be thankful to have friends and family members that are close by and there to talk to every day.

Another important understanding that I took from this summer was about how you should not stress out over everything like it is the end of the world and that even the negative experiences you may have, can lead to making you into a better person. A negative event right now might be a bad experience, but later in life you might look back on it and realize that it helped shape you into the person that you are. That maybe without that event to test your courage or perseverance you might not be where or who you are. Also, that you should not stress out about forgetting to turn in a homework or getting a grade on an exam that was lower than you wanted because you can go back and work harder and try to do better on the next exam. You should just be thankful that you have a good bill of health because there are a lot of others who might not be so fortunate.


  1. What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP

Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in

#2, and how did those affect you? Write three or four paragraphs describing

the key aspects of your experiences completing your STEP Signature Project

that led to this change/transformation.

            One interaction that led to the one of the changes that I discussed before was when I meet an elderly male who was at the hospital for over a month. The man told me that his wife had passed away a year and a half ago and that all his children live and hour or more away. While talking to him for over an hour each time I went in for my shift I could see his mood and facial expressions change. He would go from being a little down and sad, to making jokes with me and the nurses that entered the room during our conversations and constantly laughing. There were times when even after talking for over two hours he would still want to share more stories. This experience made me realize that most of us take talking to others in our daily lives for granted. That for some people, the only thing they need for happiness is to just have a conversation with someone and talk about their day.

Another interaction that I had was with one patient that was having major heart problems. This patient had recently moved to a new house and after just a couple days had to come and stay in the hospital. However, the things he told me had a lasting impact on me. The first thing was that even though he was currently sad about not being able to enjoy his new house, coming to the hospital and being treated meant that he would be able to better enjoy his house after being taken care of. He also told me several of his life events. He told me that he had a more of a troubled youth and that he didn’t always make the right choices. However, after he grew up a little more and matured some, he started to realize that maybe he should better himself. So, he went to college and got a job and started a family. Then his take home message was that you aren’t always going to have an easy time however if you keep with it and do your best you will likely end up where you want to. He also told me that the things you experience and the events that happen in your life make you the person that you are. So even if something seems horrible now, later in life you might look back on the event and realize that it was the reason that you are where you are and it helped make you into the person that you are.

One other even that largely impacted my transformation was getting to talk to a doctor while I was volunteering. The doctor told me that it is very important to have bedside manners and can communicate with the patients and understand what they are feeling like through your conversation with them. Being able to go and talk to patients every day that I volunteered had a huge impact on me. It helped learn some of the valuable things and understand how to keep a conversation going, but also know when the patient wants to rest. Talking to patients every day, you get to see that there is a fine balance between keeping a conversation going because the patient wants to talk some more, or the patient wanting to take a nap and rest up. Volunteering at the Cleveland Clinic was the most benefical and live changing experience that I have had.


  1. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your

life? Write one or two paragraphs discussing why this change or

development matters and/or relates to your academic, personal, and/or

professional goals and future plans.

            This change/transformation is significant to me in my life because of the professional goals that I have for my future. In the future, my goal is to become a doctor. Being a doctor means knowing how to interact with and listen to patients. It also means being able to relate to a patient and form a bond of trust. One very interesting experience that I had this past summer is a great example of that. One day while I was doing my volunteering rounds and speaking the patients on the floors I was assigned to, I came across a family who told about the difficulties that they had experienced with several doctors. The family (coming from a rural mid-Ohio area) only had a small hospital near the town they lived in. The family (mother, daughter, and grand-daughters) had a rare disease and had been coming to the Cleveland Clinic for testing and help treating it. However sometimes they would emergency help so they would go to the hospital near their town. They told me that their, the doctor (who had not heard about the disease before) would not listen to them about how it should be treated and would not even read the paper that they brought with them about the steps taken in case of an emergency from Cleveland Clinic. They told me that to them and a lot of other patients the most important thing for a doctor to do when they don’t know about a disease is admit it and read other papers even if they are from a different hospital. This is very important in my future because as my main goal is to be a doctor, I want to be the best doctor that I can be. Being able to hear stories like this from patients and how when I am a doctor I can help make sure that my patients don’t go through the same experiences is a huge benefit to me. It means that I can be there more for my patients when I am a doctor and help give them the best care and experience that I can.

Another important lesson and attribute that I took from volunteering at the Cleveland Clinic this summer was bedside manners. While volunteering at the Cleveland Clinic I talked to a doctor who said that the most important thing (which a lot of new doctors lack) are bedside manners. So being able to go room to room and interact with patients was a huge benefit that will be helpful to me in the future.


One thought on “Internship: Volunteering at the Cleveland Clinic

  1. Thank you for sharing. It sounds like this summer you made a true impact on those people with which you spoke….patients, family, and medical professionals. Sounds like a very rewarding experience and one that you will carry with you as you further your studies and career.

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