For my STEP signature project, I spent my time volunteering at Grant Medical Hospital in downtown Columbus. It is a not for profit hospital and a level one trauma center so it is a very busy place to be. While I did get to experience many different departments, most of my time was spent in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, the Cardiology Surgical floor, and the Bone and Joint Post Anesthesia Care Unit. My specific duties in each department varied, but my overall role was to better the experience of every patient and their family in the hospital, whether it be getting them food, a blanket, showing a smile, or getting to sit and talk with them.
Due to Grant’s location being in downtown Columbus and the fact that it is one of the major trauma centers in its area, I was able to witness an extremely diverse group of people. I interacted with patients who came from all over the city and had different backgrounds, beliefs, needs, and financial statuses. Getting to know and learn about these differences, there was times where I had to step back and appreciate the diversity which was laid out in front of me. It showed me the beauty in the fact that everyone was so different, and set a precedent for how important it is in any career that I enter to be aware of this and have practice interacting with different groups of people. It also reminded me that there are in fact groups in society who are underserved and that we should do all we can to make a change.
Another assumption of mine that changed from this project is my view of the hospital. My perception of the hospital prior to this project was that it is very hectic, has people running from one place to the other constantly, patients yelling, and a lot of sad people in waiting rooms. While the circumstances which bring people to the hospital may be unfortunate, I learned that the hospital is actually a positive place. It is full of people hoping to make meaningful interactions and changes in another’s life. There is so much that is done to ensure that all who enter Grant Hospital have a great experience and are taken care of properly. It made me love being there because it is such a caring atmosphere with charismatic employees, which completely shaped my perception of that sector of health care.
For me, my entire STEP project was about interactions, and I made many which will be beneficial to me in the future. First, I got to interact with many medical professionals which is important to me as my future aspirations involve entering the medical field, hopefully as a doctor. These interactions could not have been more educational as well as inspirational. Most of my time in the different units was spent with nurses who were more than happy to answer any and all of my questions whether they dealt with patient care or hospital protocol. I was able to observe all that they were doing, which was very interesting. There were several doctors I had the chance to introduce myself to that gave me career advice and told me a bit about what helped them get to the point that they are. These interactions taught me a lot about the fields in which I was volunteering in as well as what it takes to get there.
Secondly, being able to view the way that the medical professionals interact with patients is a huge takeaway from this experience and contributed to my perception of the hospital as a whole. The doctors and nurses that I was around provided nothing but the best form of care for everyone they encountered. They cared for the patients as if they were their own family members. I observed how hard they work to make sure a patient is comfortable and not in pain. I really enjoyed seeing the more casual interactions between the provider and patient, where they would make jokes with each other or ask about their lives outside of the hospital. The interactions I had the chance to see are ones that will serve as a role model for me.
Lastly and probably the most personal, the interactions that I had the opportunity of making was an enormous eye opener into the lives of people who are different from myself and on the importance of human connection. I have always taken pride in being told that I am easy to talk to and very approachable because I believe that these qualities are very important to have in any career. However, getting to use these skills in the hospital allowed me to see them in a whole new light and to better understand just how important they are. I had the chance to speak to patients in some of their lowest moments, some even without visitors, who needed some positivity. There were several patients who commented on how they could not be more thankful for me choosing to spend my free time volunteering and how much it means to them. In these moments, I felt complete. They helped me realize that service and compassion can make such a large change in the world. These moments also showed me the amount that my actions can impact someone and how much I love to help and interact with people.
This change and my overall experience could not have been more affirming that entering the medical field is my ultimate goal. I learned so much about what it is like to work in the hospital and got perspective on what lies on the path to get there. Observing both the doctors and nurses at work was a better way to learn about the field than had I studied it any class. Any first-hand experience will be beneficial as I apply to medical school and forming new connections with people already in the field will only be more helpful. This project also helped me to further my skills that will better prepare me for my future in terms of professionalism, communication, and responsibility.
My time spent volunteering was the most enjoyable part of my summer because I felt that I was using my STEP project to make a difference in my community. It made me feel good to know that I was making a change in someone else’s life and this is a lesson that will be carried with me through the rest of my life. If I can hold myself to a higher standard of going out of my way to help others, I believe that I will be living a higher quality of life. If everyone were to adopt these principles, the world could be a much different place. Living in Columbus which has blessed with amazing sites and a plethora of opportunities, I could not find a better way to show my gratitude than to give my time to the people that make it so special. Throughout the rest of my life, I will aim to be a helping hand to others, that way I can continue to show gratitude and believe that my time is making a difference.