Reflections on my Hospice Experience

My experience with Hospice has been incredibly meaningful to me. Through this experience I have met students and faculty at Villanova as well as at the Hospice organization. The people I have met have been incredibly supportive of this emotionally challenging volunteer endeavor. My most meaningful relationship, however, is with my patient, Mary.

I have been lucky enough to have had only one patient during my time volunteering with Hospice this year. Our relationship has progressed throughout the weeks and is now mutually caring, respectful and loving. Though as a volunteer I am not able to be as emotionally invested in the relationship, it is great to see the fulfillment that we both get out of our time together. She expresses how important our time is to her and I know that I am helping her on her emotional journey.
Though it has, at times, been difficult to deal with the circumstances that Mary is living in, I do my best to separate myself and accept it. The home she is staying in is not ideal and she is not happy with the place she is in (in terms of both health and home). She is on a very difficult emotional journey and spends a lot of time crying about her circumstances. I have sometimes found it hard to distance myself from this emotionally, but I also think that this type of experience in creating emotional barriers has influenced my future career as a doctor. Learning to separate myself from the patient is so important, and I am glad I had the opportunity to learn this lesson so early on.
This opportunity has opened my eyes to a completely different aspect of healthcare. Every prior experience I have had in medicine has been in a hospital or office setting, primarily with younger patients. I spent last summer working on fertility and efforts to create life and it has been really fulfilling to see the other end of the spectrum. Witnessing the journey that people experience at the end of their lives has opened my eyes to different areas of healthcare that need help from the younger generation. I have observed mistreatment of my patient by workers at the facility and nursing staff, and this has really been a reminder to me of the importance of respect and humanity in this industry.
This experience has further solidified my decision to become a physician. As a physician I will make sure that I and my staff treat every single patient with the care and respect that they deserve.