Most high-school students enjoy camping and joining their family for a vacation over the summer, and many have started to do what is becoming a popular summer activity–volunteering. That is what Lily Lu has been doing at The Scarborough Hospital since late June of this year. “I needed work experience, and I thought it would be fun to work at the hospital,” the Grade 11 Don Mills Collegiate student explains. “Plus I want to be a doctor or nurse one day so I thought it would be a good fit.”
Even though Lu’s volunteer activity has not given her any direct experience in these roles, she has gotten to see more of what these health professionals do as she offers support to them in the Hemodialysis unit. It is her first experience being on the other side of health care, but she is already enjoying it. “I like working with the staff,” she says. “They are really nice.” Lu is just one of many students who chose to volunteer at The Scarborough Hospital this summer. In fact, staff in the volunteer services department note that the summer months generally bring an increase in student applications.
Furthermore, volunteer services coordinator, Debbie Vandenberg, suggests that contrary to what some may believe, most students show just as much commitment to serving as more mature volunteers. “We have some students who have really been here a long time,” says Vandenberg. “There are students who have put in as many as 1,000 hours.”
Vandenberg also adds that the summer influx usually leads to a permanent increase in the volunteer base because some students choose to continue their volunteer service even after the holidays are over. “There are those who are here from year to year, and even keep a shift while in school,” she says.
While this level of commitment is appreciated, Vandenberg notes that they are careful to limit the number of hours that students volunteer during the school year, just to ensure their time at the hospital does not interfere with their school work.
Kathy Tsang, who spends two days a week at the hospital during the summer and keeps one shift during the year, is an example of this. “I’ve been a volunteer here since last summer,” says Kathy, who is about to enter grade 12 at Agincourt Collegiate Institute.
“I started doing it because I want to be a paediatrician and I like interacting with new people.” As somewhat of a veteran student volunteer, Kathy has had the opportunity to work directly with nurses and staff in various areas of the hospital including the Breast Clinic, Endoscopy and the hospital gift shop.
Even though her summer is full of other activities such as coaching soccer and volunteering at a retirement home, she says the time spent at the hospital has been very worthwhile. “I’ve gotten to learn more about what it’s like to work in a hospital,” she says. “And I still want to be a doctor.