Program gives volunteers a peek into healthcarePublished 7:54pm Thursday, June 26, 2014
Since the 1980s, Beaufort County Hospital — now Vidant Beaufort Hospital — has accepted teens for its youth volunteer program, giving them a look into the healthcare field and offering them a chance to earn scholarship money.
That program continues with students from area schools participating in a nine-week summer volunteer program, said Jan Hamblin, manager of Vidant Volunteer Department. This year’s class is the largest yet with a total of 63 volunteers.
The program is open to all rising high school freshmen as long as they are 14 years old by the time it starts in June, Hamblin said. The youth volunteers can earn scholarship money by participating in the program at least three out of the four years they are eligible and must earn at least 34 hours each summer. If a volunteer completes the three-year requirement, they receive $150 for each summer they participated.
The volunteens, as management calls them, carry out daily tasks and duties, including discharging and transporting patients, delivering mail, newspapers and other correspondence, carrying medical records, lab specimens and medicines to nurse stations and labs, and collating papers and documents for different departments, Hamblin said.
“We do a lot of discharges, we take patients out to their cars, we will take stuff from the pharmacy and the labs, you know, just jobs that need to be done,” said Win Martin, a volunteer and student at Washington High School.
The program gives volunteers like Washington High School student Davis Beeman, a chance to get a feel of what it’s like to work in the healthcare field. Beeman applied for the program because of his interest in finding a career in the healthcare industry.
“That’s really one of the things that made me come do this is being able to see how things work at the hospital and getting a look at the healthcare field,” Beeman said. “I just like interacting with people and always doing something to help people. It’s kind of like a job you can have fun doing. I had heard about people doing it and they said it was fun and they enjoyed it so I thought I would apply and give it a try.”
Other volunteers like Holt McKeithan may not yet know what career they want to pursue, but the program is a way to help the students make their decision of whether they like or dislike working in the field.
Kennedy Landen, a rising sophomore at Washington High School, is currently participating for the first summer. She said she enjoys the patient interaction as well as learning about other jobs at the hospital and interacting with the employees.
“From what I’ve done with them (patients), they are all really generous and nice to all of us and appreciate what we help them with,” Landen said. “We try to make conversation with them to see how their time here was spent. It’s also cool to see what people do in other jobs at the hospital. I was with the front desk last week and they told me all about their job so it’s cool hearing about the different jobs here.”
“Their presence is very important,” Hamblin said. “They are very instrumental in the daily duties at the hospital. The junior volunteers are our front line. It’s great having them here. They are so enthusiastic to help and to do these things. The employees enjoy them being here and they are just great young adults.”
Hamblin said the volunteers go through a competitive application process, which focuses on the students as individuals. Applicants are asked a lot about themselves, including their interests and why they are interested in volunteering, said Mac Skillen, a youth volunteer. The applicants are required to have at least a “B” average in school, write an essay and have letters of recommendation from their teachers.
“There’s a form you have to fill out and it asks a lot of various information, but it mainly asks you a lot about yourself and your opinions about life in general and what your interests are,” Skillen said. “They try to get a feel for how you’re going to adapt and become applicable in the program.”
Hamblin said the volunteers go through the same type of processing as an employee. When selected to participate in the program, the volunteers must go through a nine-part online training module before orientation. They are required to complete modules such as blood borne pathogens and HIPAA laws and rights. During orientation, management discusses Vidant Beaufort’s policies and procedures as well as expectations of the volunteers. The volunteers are instructed on the proper use of wheelchairs, the importance of hand washing and infection control, Hamblin said.
Once a volunteer is enrolled in the program, however, it doesn’t mean they will necessarily be eligible for the next year, Hamblin said. Each year, volunteers have to renew their application, showing they have maintained a “B” average and haven’t gotten into any trouble. They also have to go through orientation each year they participate.
“The program is a wonderful opportunity for our students to get exposure in the healthcare industry,” Hamblin said.