On our way home from volunteering, a fellow medical student said something that I thought was very meaningful and worth passing on to others. To paraphrase, she said, “us volunteering on Fridays makes the Monday through Thursday completely worth it.” Of course, by “Monday through Thursday,” she refers to the marathon of lectures we engage in week after week (bless the joyous 10 minute breaks we get). There are so many excellent volunteering opportunities for medical students, and I can attest to the fact that these volunteering opportunities reinvigorate my passion for helping the men and women of our society, and particularly those who are underserved.
Monday of this past week, I volunteered at the St. Vincent de Paul homeless shelter, where I helped the children of the homeless with homework. Wow! These youngsters were some of the most inspired and intelligent children I have ever met in my life. And while I am ashamed that my multiplication skills have waned since starting medical school (and thus the kids may have been teaching me more than I, them), I couldn’t help but notice the smiles on their faces and genuine happiness they showed during our time spent together. This was a very meaningful experience for me, and I hope that I was able to positively impact these children who are making the most of a truly tragic situation.
I also had the chance to volunteer for a second time at the Reach Out clinic in downtown Dayton. This time, I was helping out in the Hypertension clinic. In the midst of Healthy Habits week here at the Boonshoft School of Medicine, we have been learning about the importance of promoting healthy lifestyles in preventing diseases like hypertension, diabetes, sleep apnea, and many others. It was very encouraging to see that many adults were motivated to make changes to their lifestyle, some who came in had made significant progress (we even clapped for a patient who had lost weight and was now decreasing medication!), and some were learning about the possibility of change — how small adjustments are actually very feasible in most peoples’ lives.
I am very thankful for the volunteering opportunities that are available to us medical students, and I am excited to continue to reach out to the children and adults of our community.