May 4, 2007

Volunteer 6

Finally, I feel like I have a real handle on this project. It took long enough, and I still haven’t had my worked reviewed by Dr. Billman, but I’m feeling much more confident and optimistic than after my last session. This week, Dr. Billman couldn’t be around at all since he was teaching (I assume at the U’s med school), but he sent me an email to tell me he had left some materials for me to work on. Included in these materials of course were the two dreaded mock code handbooks that I had to suffer through last time, but he also left a note giving me a much clearer assignment this week. I was to review what I had read last week and, based on what I now knew, write out a step by step outline describing the steps I thought the hospital should take in incorporating a mock code program. Although I suppose this had been my assignment all along, the powerpoint template I had gotten earlier had been difficult to apply to my own project, and had ended up confusing me more than really helping. With this outline though, I finally felt like I could apply all that I had learned to this project and really organize my thoughts. Even the mock code manuals seemed easier to understand this week, although I’m sure that this was a direct result of my discouraging efforts to understand them during my last session. In his note, Dr. Billman said that my outline would be the subject of our discussion next week, so I’m looking forward to some actual feedback from my supervisor after almost a month of work.

April 27, 2007

Volunteering 5

This week, I was expecting to present my powerpoint to Dr. Billman. I quickly walked him through what I had in terms of broad topics, but he didn’t want to actually sit down and read through my work yet. He really insists that I should “own? this project without any initial feedback from himself, as it will make for a more valuable learning experience. I’m all for learning, but given the serious nature of my topic, any feedback at all from a professional would be greatly appreciated at this point. Instead, he gave me two handbooks on mock code training programs that the hospital owns, and told me to read through the shorter one during my volunteering time that day (of course, ‘shorter’ is relative, there was no way I could finish the book in 2 hours). The introduction of the book seemed relevant enough, but the rest was just a walkthrough of around 30 mock codes and the exact procedure a code team is supposed to go through while being evaluated. Obviously, this is way more detail than I need to really know, and most of it was impossible to even understand thanks to obscure medical abbreviations and names of drugs I had never heard of before. Dr. Billman told me that reading these manuals would probably have a large effect on my proposal, but so far I just feel confused and a bit overwhelmed by the amount of information he had me go through this week. I’ll try to sort through it in my head over the next few days though, and hopefully, somehow, I’ll be able to apply it to my work.

April 13, 2007

Volunteering 4

Just to clear things up this week, when I say “design a code blue training curriculum?, I don’t mean that I actually write out what nurses/doctors do in case of a code blue – I don’t have any training in advanced life support and have no clue how to work a defibrillator. My job is just to suggest a framework of when and how the training sessions occur, for example on a monthly basis, videotaped, reviewed etc. To be honest, I wasn’t 100% sure on what my job was myself until this week, and I made sure to clear this up with Dr. Billman as the idea of me putting together the actual life-saving procedure in a code blue is beyond ridiculous. Still, even with what I am responsible for, I feel it is almost more than enough for me to handle and will definitely be a challenging learning experience.
In terms of what I actually did for the project this week, I was given a powerpoint presentation from a previous project Dr. Billman had put together using his Model for Improvement which I was to use as a template. I’m glad he gave me this material as a basis to start my own assignment, but as I worked on it, I started to feel like there were aspects of my own project that didn’t really fit anywhere on his template. Still, I put what I could together, and I expect to show Dr. Billman my work next Friday

April 6, 2007

Volunteering #3

To start out my third visit to Children’s, Dr. Billman gave me a choice on which project I wanted to focus on. I could either do the code blue training program introduced the first week, which was clearly very involved but valuable in terms of experience, or I could start with the radiology project introduced to me last week, in which I still wasn’t quite clear what my role would be. I was relieved that Dr. Billman was giving me the choice as I was afraid he had decided against letting me do the code blue project at all, and had shown me the radiology project in order to replace it. So, I ended up choosing the code blue project and got to work on it.
Basically, I was given a computer and told to just look on the internet for examples of mock code blues which could be used as models for implementing the drill here at Children’s. The first place I looked was the Undergraduate Research Quickstart page at the U’s library site, and I actually found a handful of extremely useful documents through the databases there, one of which basically spelled out how to design a continuous training curriculum for code blues in almost any hospital environment. So I just want to take a moment and be grateful for taking those Unravel workshops at the library, I’m sorry I ever thought or said they were useless wastes of time. Anyways, at the end I was given a packet to read by Dr Billman which described his ‘Model for Improvement’ method for implementing changes in the hospital. Next time, I guess I’ll start planning on how to actually put my research into action, which seems amazingly fast to me, but as I was told, there had already been incidents which could have been prevented by more code blue training.

March 30, 2007

Second volunteer session

When I got to Children’s today, I was hoping to get started on the code blue training project Dr. Billman had discussed with me the week before. Instead though, he had me sit in on another meeting so I could be introduced to yet another project. The basic format of the meeting was the same as the first in terms of the number of people and the departments they represented. This time around though, the project had to do with the lack of timely communication between the radiology department and the physician or nurse responsible for acting on the radiology results. The subject is actually pretty interesting to me as I had no idea these barriers existed as a patient (although to be honest I’ve luckily never needed any sort of critical radiology tests). I’m not too clear on what my role in this project would be, so it’s hard to say if I’d be interested or not. All that I can say is that I hope Dr Billman is only introducing me to this project in addition to, or as a second option, to the code blue project. It’s not that I don’t want to be involved in this one, but I just don’t want it replacing the first assignment since I’m still pretty excited about getting started on that one.

March 23, 2007

First volunteering session

FINALLY, I had my first actual volunteering session at Children’s Hospital. It actually turned out to be much more involved than I thought it would based on our previous meetings. At my interview, Dr. Billman had vaguely referred to my looking at what projects were available and then choosing what suited me best. When I got to his office on Friday though, he basically said that there was a project which was staring him in the face at the moment that I could take right then and there. For this project, I would design a code-blue training simulation for the hospital, a code blue being when a patient’s life is in danger (for example a cardiac arrest). Needless to say, taking this as my first project would not only allow me to improve the safety of a great number of patients from just one assignment, but would also be amazing on any sort of medical school application or interview. So I took the project, and was then taken into a meeting which was just starting as we got there.
As I have said before in previous blogs (and was reminded of at the meeting), I absolutely cannot discuss the topics brought up during this meeting. As a general impression though, I can say that I did feel a bit out of place. Basically, there were a bunch of heads of departments at this meeting all dressed up and discussing important issues related to my assignment, and then there was me in jeans and a sweater. Not wanting to draw attention to myself, I just sat there quietly and took a few notes, and then at the end reviewed what I had learned with Dr. Billman. Writing about the experience is a bit frustrating given the restrictions put on me, but what I can say is that I’m very excited by the opportunity I have been given and really hope I can continue with this project next week.

March 9, 2007

Interview no. 2

This week, I had my interview with Dr Billman, who is directing the safety research at Children’s Hospital. This was separate from my interview with the volunteer coordinator, which was more to confirm if I was qualified for any of the volunteering positions. After having passed through that, I was called by the volunteer coordinator, who told me to call the secretary of Dr. Billman, who called the doctor himself and arranged our interview. This interview was much less formal, and was more to introduce me to the topic of safety research and to be sure it was a good fit for me. In fact, Dr Billman seemed to be especially concerned that I be aware of what safety research is all about and if I really wanted to commit myself to the position. At the end of the interview, he actually asked that I e-mail him later in the week after I had had some time to think everything over before moving on, but seeing as I’m so ridiculously behind schedule as it is, I said I was sure I wanted to continue as of right then. So the tentative schedule is that I meet with him next Friday to look at the different projects he has going and discuss which one I should be assigned to.
When I say, “understanding what safety research is all about,? this involved Dr. Billman making it very clear that I would be looking at “the dark side? of medicine, i.e. dangers and mistakes being made. This doesn’t bother me at all as I’ve always known that doctors aren’t infallible, but this also means that I can’t divulge what I hear about these mistakes to anyone else, and therefore can’t discuss it in detail in this blog. I’m sure my legions of readers will be crushed. Dr Billman also went over the fact that, unlike most medical volunteer positions, I won’t have the opportunity of direct patient contact. Still, I’m sure that once I begin, the fact that my work will possibly affect many more patients on a slightly broader level will still be an important experience in terms of community learning and engagement.

March 2, 2007

Children's Hospital Interview

This week, I finally got my interview at Children’s Hospital. It seemed like it went well enough, although the challenge wasn’t so much being qualified as just having a schedule which fit with their remaining openings. It’s especially hard for me to get an opening since I got my interview so late which, it turns out, wasn’t because they were taking time to process my application, but instead they had lost it. So now, the only remaining openings are in the morning, which are still open of course since no one has extra time in the morning. The representative told me he would contact the doctor in charge of the safety research division, which is what I’m interested in, so hopefully there will be openings in that area other than weekday mornings.
As for the interview itself, I was actually a bit surprised by how personal it was. I had talked to someone before going in who had already been interviewed, and she had told me that the interview was really informal, just going over what schedule would fit you best. It’s true that we did this for most of the time at the end, but there were also questions like “Why do you specifically want to volunteer at Children’s,? and “Why do you think your better qualified for the job than other applicants.? Of course, like I said before, the whole process quickly became centered on issues of time and availability. But I still wasn’t quite prepared for direct questions like those, especially going in depth about why I want to volunteer in the first place. At the most basic level, I need to volunteer both for premed as well as this class. But since I haven’t done any volunteering yet, it’s hard for me to say how I can be personally fulfilled by the job since I haven’t yet had any experience to draw on. Still, I’m hoping that once I actually do start volunteering, I can be more clear myself on what I can get both personally as well as educationally out of the experience as a whole without having to guess at the answer.

February 23, 2007

Community Engagement Scholars program

This week, I went to my first counseling appointment for the Community Engagement Scholars program. I actually learned about this program in another service learning class I’m taking, Design Fundamentals. Basically, I need to take eight service learning credits (which I think I’ll have done this semester), write a reflection (which I’m hoping to put together from this blog) and get 400 hours of community service done by the time I graduate. Obviously, this last requirement is the one that will really take the most work, but I figure that since I’m a premed student, I’ll be volunteering so much as it is that it will be nice to get separate recognition for it while I’m at it. Plus, being a Community Engagement Scholar gives me access to all the resources and contacts that the program has collected over the years, which will hopefully make finding volunteering positions in the future a more painless process.
The counseling session itself was a pretty useful process, although I’m still not quite clear on how regularly I’m supposed to make appointments with a counselor. Basically, it sounds like I should do so once a semester, but even at this session there didn’t seem to be too much to talk about besides filling out the necessary papers to get me registered in the program. Still, I think that this will be very useful in guiding me as well as encouraging me to make a more lasting commitment to community service rather than just doing what is required of me this semester.

February 16, 2007

Volunteer Orientation

This week I went to volunteer orientation at Children’s Hospital. This was actually a very useful experience for me in that it helped me narrow down what department I actually wanted to volunteer in. Basically, during one of the sections, four volunteers came in to answer questions and briefly describe what they did, and of that group, the guy who was working in safety research had what seemed to me like the best job. The only concern I had when I registered for Children’s Hospital was actually interacting with kids on a day-to-day basis, which wouldn’t have been the worst thing in the world, but I’m more introverted so I was looking for a more clerical job. And this research position seems perfect as not only does it offer a chance to conduct research in a hospital and learn more about how clinics work, but it is under the supervision of a doctor as opposed to a volunteer coordinator. This is especially important to me as I’m premed, and a recommendation from a doctor would be really valuable for my application to medical school. The guy who worked in research was even describing how the doctor was always asking when to write him a recommendation, so it sounds like he’s very nice and always looking to help premed students. Plus, as the other volunteers were explaining, not all positions get some, or even any contact with doctors at all. The most common position for example, which is basically playing with kids and keeping them or their family company, is only important when a doctor is not around, and when it is time for the doctors to work on the patients, the volunteers are basically supposed to get out of their way and let them do their job.
The rest of the orientation was pretty much what I had expected, just going through rules, signing forms, and making sure we had a basic handle on what to expect. But, as opposed to the volunteer workshop at the U which I had been complaining about earlier, I really thought this was a valuable experience (albeit a long one running at 2 ½ hours), and I’m now only waiting to be interviewed before actually starting my volunteer work for this class. I’m almost there.

February 9, 2007

Studs Terkel readings

This week in class, we read and discussed the interviews by Studs Terkel. I thought it was interesting firstly because of the variety of people he had in his book. This enabled interesting comparing/contrasting of the different jobs, like the prostitute and the marketing executive for example. Both were women who had very interesting things to say about what they felt their roles were as women, but differed drastically in how society perceives their occupations. The prostitute talks a lot about how she feels that women are taught to hustle in every day society, how there are certain rules they must all follow in interacting with men. The marketing executive also talks about her role as a woman, and following the rules she feels have been set for her. She never reveals her pay so as to not draw resentment from men who wouldn’t like the idea of a woman being paid more than them, and she sometimes tells men she’s married so as to make them more comfortable in classifying and dealing with her socially. Of course, the greatest contrast would be that the position of a marketing executive is given much more respect in general than that of a prostitute, as well as being paid significantly more. But it was still interesting that the two women had such similar feelings about their roles despite the socio-economic differences in their occupations.
As for volunteering, I’m still not quite ready to start. I got my tuberculosis screening and sent in my application as soon as I tested negative, but still have to attend an orientation at Children’s Hospital next week. I can only hope after so much trouble that the experience will be well worth it, or that I’ll at least get accepted for the position.

February 1, 2007

Volunteer Workshop

Since the application process to the Children’s Hospital is so involved, I have not been able to start my volunteering yet. On Saturday though, I did go to a workshop on involvement in the community. In it, we discussed what we thought made up community service, what the causes and effects of poverty were, stereotypes, and ended the session with some examples of difficult situations we could get into while volunteering and possible solutions.
Maybe it’s because the workshop started at 10 am on a Saturday, but the only part that I thought was truly valuable and worth getting up for on a Saturday was the last bit. Defining community service was sort of interesting in that it showed how many different opinions there were on the subject, but of the dozen or so definitions offered, the majority of people tended to choose the same one or two anyway. The activity on stereotyping/judging was also kind of interesting, where we turned to the person next to us and, based on only looking at them, wrote out what assumptions we had on them in terms of age, heritage and socioeconomic class. But the whole moral of the activity seemed to me like it would have belonged more in another workshop as it didn’t give me any specific guidelines on starting out as a volunteer. And I have no idea what the point of mapping out the causes and effects of poverty were. The last bit, on the other hand, was actually very useful to me as it gave specific examples of difficult situations a student could get into and how to best solve them. An example of one that I found surprising was that, as a volunteer at a homeless shelter, you shouldn’t give a birthday present to a particular homeless person you’ve gotten to know as it shows a sort of favoritism and may be against the policies of the shelter. Instead, you’re supposed to ask a supervisor what to do, and possibly donate something to the whole shelter so as to not be too specific.
In general though, I’m glad I went as I did get some very useful information at the workshop, and hopefully by next week I’ll have started on my actual volunteering.

January 26, 2007

Why I chose my organization

When I registered for this class, it was with the notion in mind that, as a premed student, I would get a more structured approach to the volunteering which is expected by most medical schools. I hate cold-calling, and was lucky in my assumption that this class would in fact make approaching volunteering organizations much easier.
So when I was given the list of possible organizations, the Children's Hospital immediately stood above the rest in my mind as it is directly related to health care, and is actually in a hospital setting. And, as the representatives from Children's were saying, this would make it valuable not only in terms of volunteering experience, but being in a hospital around other healthcare professionals would also help me network for future internships or research opportunities. There were also one or two other choices under the 'health' category in terms of organizations I could volunteer for, but in both cases is was more about offering aid to those with health issues as opposed to working in a clinical setting.
Although my referral has been approved, the application process is fairly lengthy and it will be a while yet before I can actually be sure that I can volunteer at Children's Hospital. I've only just gotten someone to write a relavent recommendation (most of the recommendations I have are academic or musical), and I have yet to look into the required tuberculosis screening/x-rays, not to mention the required interview which will come even later. But I'm still really hoping to volunteer at Children's since, as I said, it would be an important step for me as a premed student, although unfortunately it does seem like the application process is the most rigorous of all the volunteering organizations.

January 19, 2007

First Entry

I chose the "Community Learning" section of composition because, as a premed student, this class seemed like a good way to start with my volunteering. Also, it was the only english comp class which fit my schedual. I don't really have any community service experience as far as volunteering with organizations, although I have done some tutoring in high school (it was paid though).
I would define "service" as working for some cause or organization whether you feel obligated to or not.