Volunteering helps brothers prepare for healthcare careers

Sandra ClarkOur Town Health, West Knox

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.


Meaningful Interactions

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

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