When a student is looking for a program to fill their mandatory 40 volunteer hours – as per the Ministry of Education’s policy – they don’t often consider long-term career goals.But it seems that after a summer at Providence Care, many students are seeing healthcare in their future.
Director of Volunteer Service, Janet Hunter, admits that many of the 27 students fell in love with the patients this summer. “I volunteer because it is so rewarding to see a patient’s face light up with a smile,” says student volunteer Elizabeth McAuley. Hunter says, “They love the interaction and listening to their life history. The patients have such great information and stories.” And the sentiment is shared as the patients love the volunteers’ company. “The patients call them a ‘breath of fresh air’,” she adds.
The students did not just benefit from patient interaction, they learned a lot from staff. Hunter says, “We’ve had more participation from the staff. We’ve had a lot of involvement with occupational therapy and physiotherapy. Students have experienced nursing and even dual-diagnosis.”
At the end of the summer program, many students discovered they want to be nurses, speech therapists or occupational therapists. “I would say 95% of them want to come back and work in the healthcare field. They just love the experience,” boasts Hunter. They still have plenty of time until they fulfil a fulltime career in healthcare but until then, many have requested to volunteer during the school year on weekends.
What does Providence Care’s president and CEO, Cathy Szabo, think of the successful student program? “It’s great to see our summer program inspire young people. Helping them get exposure to front line health care will be a good foundation for their future and they bring tons of energy to our organization. “