My STEP signature project was completed at the Cleveland Clinic Emergency Room in Twinsburg, OH. I applied for a volunteer position in the College Student Volunteer program at the Clinic. I spent a great deal of my time of the two months aiding both patients and staff around the emergency room for whatever needs. My main role was to do what I was asked whether that be retrieve a warm blanket for a patient, pass time with a family by talking to them, stock medical supplies, or learn about the multitude of roles in a hospital.
As a College Student Volunteer, I was obligated to serve a minimum of 75 hours throughout the summer of 2017 in the hospital. I was able to select the department I served in and couldn’t have been more pleased with my decision in the emergency room. The Emergency Room at the Cleveland Clinic was astonishingly busy. Every day, I was eager to see what types of illnesses or other events I would learn about. It was quite a thrill being able to be a part of a team at the Cleveland Clinic who works day by day to improve patient’s health outcomes. The most thrilling part of my experience was the inability to predict what will happen. Within a span of an hour there could go from having not a single person in the ER, to having not enough rooms. I witnessed everything from small laceration, to even death. It was a real life Grey’s Anatomy.
Volunteering at the Cleveland Clinic solidified my passion for helping others. Every day I was able to go into the hospital and make someone’s day a little better or a bit easier. The different people I met, and the events that I saw, ensured me that I want to be working in a profession where I interact with people. I appreciated good health each and every day and learned how to be empathetic. You never know what someone could be going through and it is important to think about that when working in health care. I think I used to struggle with this prior to working with the Cleveland Clinic. I think often I would take good health and my condition of life for granted.
Like I said, I was able to interact with both the staff and the patients. I met several doctors and was able to appreciate the ones who are truly selfless individuals. Their role as a health care professional is to essentially save lives, and that was truly all they wanted to do. I was able to interact more so with the nurses and medics. The nurses and medics shared a lot of insight regarding how the Clinic works, some past events that have occurred, and what medical terminology means. I was thankful for what I learned from talking to individuals, and they were more than willing to teach me. I witnessed a few tragic events that genuinely made me stop and think about not only how lucky I am, but also about how much I want to make a difference on other people’s health. Interacting with the patients exposed me to the amount of different people there are in even a city next to mine at home. I learned about different family backgrounds, relationships, financial status, medical status, cultures, and so much more. I learned to appreciate small talk and what difference understanding a little about someone can do.
The terminology I learned, the knowledge I acquired, and the empathy I was able to share with patients and their family ensured a transformation that will linger for a lifetime. I was able to see things that not every can bear or get to see in their life or ever. Witnessing several patients die, some be transferred via life flight in critical condition allowed for me to sit back and understand the importance of not only living every day like it could be my last, but also treating people like it could be my last day as well.