Final thoughts

My experience as a hospice volunteer was one that I highly value. Though I was only able to participate for a semester as I didn’t return to campus during the spring semester, my visits with patients in the fall were meaningful and provided me with insight about this essential part of patient care. I visited several patients each visit, and I would describe my relationship with most of them to be like a friendly acquaintance. My goal each visit was to ensure that each patient felt that they had someone to talk to without feeling burdensome, and if the patient didn’t want to talk that day, then my goal was to provide quiet company.
The part of training that was most helpful for this type of volunteer work was the first video in prompt 1.1 and the guidelines given in prompt 1.5. These prompts were memorable for me. The video “Being mortal” was a striking way to start off training, as the video is very emotional. This prepared me as a volunteer for the realities that I might face when spending time with patients on hospice. I also found prompt 1.5 to be very helpful, because I personally was worried that I wouldn’t know what topics to bring up or what was appropriate to talk about with patients. This prompt gave conversation guidelines that were helpful to use when conversations didn’t flow as smoothly with some patients. Over time, I became more comfortable conversing with the patients and discussing more difficult topics, such as dealing with pain and feelings of loneliness.
My time as a hospice volunteer has confirmed my desires to go to medical school. As a future physician, I want to ensure that even if my patients cannot be cured by medicine, they still feel that they are being cared for by their doctors and nurses. I want patients to feel that they are seen and treated as people instead of just illness, so they deserve quality care even if they cannot be physically healed. This is something that I will always keep in mind as a future healthcare worker because I want to ensure that the patients I work with feel that their needs are being put first and that they have a team to support them throughout difficult times.
I would describe the experience of being a hospice volunteer as one that showed me the realities of medicine’s abilities. Though modern medicine is rapidly advancing, there are still times where it cannot cure every illness. This is why it is important to remember the value of caring for patient’s emotional health and of learning how to communicate with patients and families so that their needs are fulfilled during the end of their lives. It is easy to get lost in learning about the physiology of illnesses and their treatments, and though that aspect of medicine is amazing, my experience in Hospice volunteering has benefited me because I will never forget to keep the patient’s human needs, desires, and concerns in mind when treating them.