Felix Kai, a student at Kings Edwards School, joined the Communications Team here at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital for a work experience placement. Felix wrote an excellent article about his experience here and shares his thoughts on the benefits of volunteering.
As a student neither particularly skilled at I.T. nor Biology I entered my work experience in the communications department at The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital with some apprehension. However it was clear to me within my first hour, (partly due to the large number of patient surveys that I was doing data entry for) that the staff were exceptionally welcoming. Perhaps what I enjoyed the most about my first day was receiving a swipe card for entry through staff doors. My excitement whilst using the card probably showed my age…
I was pleased to find that jobs I was assigned or I helped with were interesting and of quite great consequence. Even though I was a young person in the hospital I was not babied or patronised. However, if I did require help, people were happy to give it. The work that I completed ranged from looking through the Hospital archives organising and choosing interesting photos and articles for an approaching bicentenary exhibition, to working on an article for the staff magazine. Often work experience students can feel like they are a burden to those that they are on a placement with, but with The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital I was treated like an asset.
"Often work experience students can feel like they are a burden to those that they are on a placement with,
but with The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital I was treated like an asset"
During my time on my placement I got to talk to some volunteers at the hospital to find out about the opportunities on offer to them. The volunteers were all very friendly and eager to talk of their volunteering experiences. They described enjoying the atmosphere of the hospital, and getting an insight into how the hospital works. One volunteer that I spoke to started volunteering after she had had an operation at the hospital because she was so impressed with the staff, services and volunteers at the hospital. But every volunteer that I spoke to mentioned the exceptional staff and kind environment. This highlighted to me the welcoming and professional nature of the hospital.
During my work experience placement I also got to talk to Gail Booth, the Volunteer Co-ordinator at the hospital, to acquire her opinion on what is on offer for work experience students and volunteers both young and old. I found that volunteers have up to nine job roles on offer, from ward helping and visiting patients to garden tending. I was told that many of the young volunteers come either from universities and are doing an access course, for example in nursing. Or they are applying for university and need to tick a ‘volunteering’ box on their UCAS form. Volunteering at this hospital is hugely helpful for any student wishing to apply for a medical course, but not just so that they can tick a box. It is useful because they gain confidence and get an insight into how a hospital functions; most importantly they get experience in communicating with patients. I found the opinion of the hospital staff to be that aspiring doctors and nurses should first learn to communicate with patients and then take their university course; if they wish to be a great asset to a hospital.
If you'd like to find out more about volunteering at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital, visit our volunteering page.