Giving Back As A Way Of Moving Forward
Not that long after I got sick, I decided to start volunteering at the hospital where I was a patient.
I worked at the front desk of the cardiovascular center ICU. I did not have direct contact with patients, but I did with the families and the medical staff.
I only volunteered a few hours a week, which is all that my schedule at the time would allow. I didn’t do it because I had required volunteer hours for school or some other obligatory reason.
I wanted to do it because I wanted to give back.
I knew first hand what an inhospitable environment the hospital can be, the stress that can be experienced by both patients and their families, and if I could make the experience any easier for someone else, it was totally worth it.
For me, I also started volunteering for selfish reasons. I hoped that by being on the other side of the bed, I might feel that hospitals are not all bad. And I think it worked. I now have a job where I work in a hospital, and I’ve been able to handle it much better than I ever imagined.
I think when some people think of volunteering, they think of it being a huge time commitment. But it doesn’t have to be.
You also don’t have to volunteer at a hospital if it’s uncomfortable for you. There are lots of places that will happily let you lend a hand.
And because it’s volunteering, as long as you give notice, they’ll usually cut you some slack if you can’t volunteer because you’re not feeling well.
Obviously, you would want to confirm all of this wherever you are considering volunteering. Some places do have more requirements than others, so it is important to be cognizant of that.
Another tip is that I worked in an area of the hospital where I wasn’t around patients that were contagious. Not that you would be, but I was definitely concerned about my immune system, and made sure that I was involved with patients that wouldn’t get me sick.
For me, I would have loved to have given more than the few hours a week that I did, but I did give my supervisor the ability to be back on the unit while I manned the desk outside, in the waiting room.
It was truly a rewarding experience, and I am really glad that I did it. As a health activist, I try and give back as much as I can, when the opportunity presents itself. And it’s a great way to expand your circle of friends. I met some great people along the way that I am still in touch with today, even though I am now half a country away from them.
Ultimately, I may have gotten more out of the experience than the people that I was supposed to be helping, but it made me feel good to help others.
Do you volunteer or give back? Share what you do or would like to do!