Often the best education is life experience. St. Luke’s McCall’s junior volunteer program offers just that. This summer, four smart, talented and driven teenagers are volunteering in the emergency department alongside the doctor and clinical team.
Abigail Blum, 18, of Troy, Idaho is one of those students. Blum begins her studies to become a physician’s assistant at Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa this fall. She will be majoring in biology and playing outside hitter on the university’s volleyball team.
Blum initially thought of becoming a veterinarian, but later changed her mind, deciding “it would be easier to treat people because they can talk and tell you what is wrong.”
Blum’s expectation of volunteering is to learn more about the health care industry and the different positions within a hospital environment. The unexpected was learning the many aspects of care for just one person.
“A lot more goes into healing people than you would think. All of the documentation, all of the people involved, not just one doctor or one nurse. It takes a team effort. Teamwork makes the dream work,” Blum said.
Her experience was enhanced by the interactions with emergency department physicians and clinicians who helped her understand various approaches to care.
”I really appreciated it when Dr. John Kremer took the extra time, after the patient was taken care of to explain to me about the process of treating patients based on their symptoms and injury,” Blum said.
The emergency department team was grateful for the opportunity to interact with future care providers.
When asked about the junior volunteer program, Dr. Kremer said, “It is an opportunity for us, physicians, nurses and support staff to give back what we received from those who went before us and generously took the time to teach.”
Blum has always been interested in anatomy and biology. This led her to participate in Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA) program at her high school. HOSA is a national organization that enhances the delivery of compassionate, quality health care by providing opportunities for knowledge, skill and leadership development of all health science education students, therefore, helping students meet the needs of the health care community. One of their HOSA projects included developing and holding a hand hygiene clinic in the elementary school promoting the prevention of spreading germs and illness.
Blum’s volunteering in high school also included serving as a track coach in triple jump and long jump, and she is raising money to start a volleyball program for K-12 kids in Troy.
Volunteer Coordinator, Jennifa d’ArcRaven is proud of the junior volunteer program and how it provides an opportunity for students to experience medical-based volunteering.
Nearly 24 junior volunteers have participated in the program over the past four years. The program exposes students to the many elements of the inner workings of a hospital from supporting community health programs to working with physicians and nurses on special projects.“Hospital leadership and the emergency department team have embraced the program and are exceptional in mentoring these young volunteers during the summer program.” d’arcRaven said.
Erin Roper is a community relations coordinator at St. Luke’s McCall.