The volunteer spirit is alive and well at Parkwest Medical Center. While the majority of Parkwest’s volunteers are around retirement age, volunteering at the hospital also has proven to be a meaningful experience for college students.
Cole Boruff is a rising junior at the University of Tennessee and has volunteered at Parkwest for two summers. His brother, Connor Boruff, a rising sophomore at UT, began volunteering earlier this year. Each has logged more than 100 hours during the past few months.
In the emergency department, Cole’s tasks ranged from helping with patient flow at the registration desk, assisting patients getting in and out of their vehicles and providing warm blankets to patients as requested by staff. “We escort people to consult rooms, make sure the areas are clean, alert the nurses when patients arrive and help keep the patient’s spokesperson updated,” says Cole, who notes that working with patients and interacting with people are his favorite parts of volunteering.
Ethan and Grant Calhoun are identical twin brothers, Knoxville natives and rising seniors at Berry College in Rome, Georgia. Both are studying biochemistry with plans to attend medical school. They have volunteered during their past three summer breaks at Parkwest and whenever they are home visiting Knoxville. The pair has assisted in many areas: emergency department, admitting and registration, outpatient, surgery waiting area, critical care and materials management. Both have logged more than 500 volunteer hours at the hospital.
“In surgery waiting, I keep the families updated about their loved one and try to be that calm person who can answer their questions or just listen,” Ethan says. He especially enjoyed working with the ER techs in the emergency department. “I delivered ice water or helped wherever I could.”
Grant notes that hospital waiting rooms show “both sides of medicine.” He reflects, “You see the family’s experience in the waiting room. You understand their frustration if something is taking a long time.” He also learned more about the clinical aspects of providing care. “You see the clinical staff following their protocols. You see how the hospital works in all aspects.”
He says that each department of the hospital has a life lesson to teach. “We got an understanding of how each role contributes to the system, whether it’s the custodian or the physician,” he says.
Confirming Their Commitment to Healthcare
All four students say that Parkwest’s staff is like a family, and treats patients like family as well. The students say their volunteer experiences have helped confirm their commitment to healthcare careers.
Ethan and Grant both say volunteering has taught them to listen better. “Everyone has a story – you never know what someone’s going through, good or bad. I have learned that we can make a difference by being there. Helping people goes along with my passions and lifelong goals. Practicing medicine, you can be a teacher, mentor and helper all in one.”
Cole notes, “Volunteering opened my eyes to how a hospital works and I like the setting. I hope to help others experience life to their full potential.” Connor describes his experience as “an excellent ‘backseat view’ of everything. Volunteering at Parkwest has helped me solidify that I want to be in healthcare.”
Information provided by Covenant Health public relations department. Additional info: Parkwest Volunteers