A Patient’s Top Support System: The Importance of Hospice Volunteering

I got assigned to “Patient X” in October of 2022. I feel extremely lucky to have gotten to meet, talk to and develop a relationship with “Patient X”. One hobby that both of us have in common is the joy of reading. Every time I visit him, I will either talk with him about books or more so read him one of the many history books he has in his collection. When we talk about books, both of us agree that there is a countless array of good books written by brilliant authors. A joy with this hobby is that you can never run out of books to read because there’s endless amounts of them. When we read history books, it allows both of us to be transported to a new setting and learn more about historical moments that have occurred in the world such as World War II and the Vietnam War. It has been a pleasure getting to know “Patient X”, and I could not have asked for a more meaningful Hospice patient relationship than the one we have developed.
From my understanding, a good medical school application contains a variety of experiences that can help one develop and mature not only as a person but as a health care worker. The main value of this program is understanding what death means to people and how simple acts of kindness can help relieve the suffering and anguish of patients who are close to death. A good death is one where, with a good plan and the right people, the quality of life is high. As a Hospice volunteer this program has helped me to learn more about how I can provide support to near death patients within their day-to-day life. Whether it be through having a simple conversation, providing companionship, or allowing them to still enjoy their favorite hobbies, I’ve learned that simply being present as a Hospice worker can make patients feel less of a burden and become more at peace.
I’ve grown tremendously during my Hospice experience. Prior to this experience, I had never stepped foot in a nursing home. Now that I have, I have a greater understanding for its environment, and I empathize with the patients that I’ve interacted with who are all close to death. This experience has allowed me to look past the dispiriting mood of a nursing home and focus on the positive, not just for me, but for the patients as well. My work as a Hospice volunteer has made me feel like I could be a better doctor than I would have been prior to this experience. When I become a doctor and meet with patients, I will always talk with them and listen to what they have to say because I want them to know that I will always be a part of their support system. Health care workers should always be humane and showcase a positive perspective on life so that patients never feel as if they are a burden. Patients are not and will never be a burden, and I want to take the time and dedication to help them feel more at ease.