Strong Memorial Hospital provides a space for medical and graduate work as well as volunteer opportunities for approximately 70 undergraduate students from the River Campus throughout each year.
According to Jane Walsh, the administrator of the volunteer program Friends of Strong Memorial Hospital, within the last year, those students have worked 10,905 volunteer hours, a total which she deemed impressive.
While most student volunteers have future plans to go into medicine, Walsh stressed that available internships and volunteering positions are great for students interested in variety, as well as for rsums.
“Some students choose to do smoking research in the Cancer Center, others, internships, and again others take part in patient contact-working in the emergency room, registration desk, pediatric inpatient department or they help patients in the orthopedic unit,” Walsh said.
She believes there are a wide range of opportunities. “There are other positions aside from patient work — students can work in the gift shop, thrift shop or do clerical work. There are even opportunities for people in business,” she continued. “No matter what, you gain things from it. People get to know you.”
In order to become a volunteer, Walsh explained, one must meet University Health Services requirements, participate in an interview and go through an in-service educational orientation followed by a manual test which covers topics along the lines of fire safety, security and infection control.
Walsh credited sophomore Karen Glatfelter as one volunteer who has gone above and beyond the 3-4 hour per week minimum commitment. Glatfelter, who is now on her second semester as a volunteer, is currently working two shifts in the pediatric ambulatory clinic, which largely serves pediatric oncology and hematology.
She will soon be taking on a new shift in a different department.”The kids who come to the clinic generally are there for chemotherapy or blood transfusions for sickle-cell anemia,” Glatfelter explained. “While they’re there, many of them come to this really amazing playroom to hang out and have fun while their IVs are running,” she said.
According to Glatfelter, she began volunteering for several reasons. An avid participant in community service during high school, she explained that she wanted to continue the experience by doing something that could give her insight into a future career.
“My long term goal is to become a pediatric oncologist, so working with outpatient pediatric cancer patients has been great. I love watching them interact with each other, the doctors and nurses and seeing how they deal with their disease,” she said.
“Hanging at the hospital has been a great way to learn about medicine, both the science and maybe more importantly, about the holistic aspects,” Geltfalter said.
Another popular option for prospective volunteers is to participate as a group.
Circle K, a part of Community Service Network chaired by junior Dan Kamins, participates in several activities at Strong throughout the year.
“We did a Halloween party at the hospital with the kids in the pediatric center. There, we painted faces, painted pumpkins, decorated cookies, gave out Halloween packages and played with the kids. The students and patients both seemed to have a great time.”
“For the patients, it was a nice way to get out of their rooms and interact with others,” Kamins said. “For the students, it was a chance to give back to the kids and the community and realize just how lucky we truly are.”Friends of Strong Administrator of Public Awareness Joan Clancy puts on special events to raise money for patient care and frequently needs student volunteer groups for the community activities.
“In a month we are having a wine-tasting and every September we sponsor the Bill Sweet Memorial Walk-Run. At that specific event, a couple of UR fraternities stood on the course and helped out,” Clancy said.
“Some events don’t call for many volunteers, but at others I could use a lot of student help.”
Aside from the rsum bonus and opportunity to make contracts, Walsh insisted that student volunteers get as much satisfaction as the patients out of the volunteering experience, if not more. Glatfelter described one of her favorite moments from volunteering at Strong.
“One day before Christmas, I was asked to help an inpatient make a gingerbread house. The boy was very weak and couldn’t leave his room, so I brought the supplies to him. He watched skeptically as I constructed the house. Finally I got it all together and was feeling pretty proud of my talent. The boy seemed like he was falling asleep and for a couple minutes I started talking to his mother and the Child Life Specialist that I work with,” Glatfelter continued.
“However, the boy suddenly tried to get my attention and after a second I realized that he was telling me that the house was collapsing. As I scrambled to fix it, he just looked at me and rolled his eyes, as if to say, ‘Silly girl.’ I finally got the house back up with a little help from his mom and a lot of laughing.”
In addition to the laughter and learning that Glatfelter said she encounters as a volunteer, she also found time to improve her skills in one major area.
“It’s the only time I have during the week to play little kid games like Nintendo,’ she said. “My Donkey Kong skills are improving dramatically.” Interested in volunteering? Contact Jane Walsh for Friends of Strong Memorial Hospital at jane_walsh@urmc. rochester.edu.