Ascend Hospice Reflection

Before coming into this program, my only experience with Hospice care had been through my grandmother’s late years. As a grade school student at the time, I didn’t have a grasp of what was truly going on around me. All I knew was that my grandma was sick, and these people were making her comfortable. This program has helped me gain my first truly formative glimpse into end of life care. I had the pleasure of visiting two patients at the Wayne Center in Wayne, PA. But, being a nursing home, visits to the Wayne Center often were much more than just simply meeting with my two patients. I spoke with people in the halls, saw nurses interacting with other patients, and often met other volunteers or family members who were visiting patients as well. All in all, this year served as a useful vision of what this sort of care amounted to.
Reflecting on my experience with the program, it undoubtedly has shaped my view of medicine. Even before I started visiting the patients, reading into hospice care and watching Atul Guwunde’s PBS Frontline special on “Being Mortal” dramatically changed my thoughts of end of life care. The idea of death was something that fascinated me, as it fascinates any teenager, but it wasn’t something I’d grappled with internally until this point. Having a terminal illness brings to the forefront what is most important in your life, and it’s not surprising that many have chosen the route of palliative care as highlighted in the Frontline special. Meeting my patients and hearing of one of them pass away over Winter break made this concept of palliative care a much more real entity in my eyes. Although it would be misleading to describe the patients as energetic, they were noticeably happy very enthusiastic to meet me. I can only imagine that the style of care provided by the nursing home led to this improvement in attitude.
This experience truly was informative with regards to my future in medicine. Again, the concept of end of life care was never too prominent in my mind. I’ve always wanted to pursue a career in medicine, but I had never fully formed my opinions on end of life care, which is a huge facet of many medical professions. If there is one thing I can take away from this program, it is an idea of the benefits of hospice care. The patients that I had the pleasure of interacting with seemed very happy with their lifestyle and always had a smile on their faces. Granted, this is only an example of two patients, I do believe in the philosophy behind it after seeing the success in these two patients. Unfortunately, I never had the chance to speak with my patients about their personal view of hospice care because our relationship never was able to reach that point. But, it was incredible to meet people so willing to share about their lives and so happy to have someone with them. All things considered, the feeling I had from just seeing the patients happy to have someone by their side was worth all of the time itself. I could tell how much it meant to them, and that makes this whole process even more worthwhile than I could have imagined.