UHC volunteer program provides learning experience
By Molly Rossberg
The University Health Center isn't just a place you go to get treated when you are sick. For some students, it's also a place where they can get a taste of their future careers through an in-house volunteer program.
Program coordinator Betsy Gentry said that it all started a few years ago when she saw a presentation on a similar program at the American College Health Association Conference. "We'd had requests every year for students to work or volunteer and when I saw [the presentation], I knew [the program] was something we had to do." Gentry added that once the Health Center moved into Montpelier Hall, there was enough space to allow the program to get off the ground.
Volunteers at UHC are assigned to work in the specialty clinics, the regular clinic, or the front office. Responsibilities include everything from learning how to navigate Medicat (the system that houses medical records), to leading students from the lobby to their room to get vital signs and medical history, and even observing more advanced procedures. "They are trained just like the other employees," Gentry said, "They do the same thing we do."
Current volunteers in the program are not only thankful for the experience, but also sincerely enjoy getting to work at UHC with the staff. "Volunteering at UHC is something I look forward to every week. It is fun to meet and interact with other students, as well as my co-workers," said junior Kaitlin Roehl. "I could brag about the staff at UHC for days, they are all such genuinely nice people... I am never afraid to ask questions or make mistakes because everyone is willing to help. I literally learn something new every time I volunteer," she added. Senior Taylor Matthews echoed Roehl's statements describing her volunteer experience at the Health Center as, "rewarding and very educational."
Roehl and Matthews, who both want to be physician assistants, say that their volunteer experience at UHC has helped further that goal. "Observing physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants positively impact students reminds me of how rewarding the medical profession is," Matthews said in an email. "As a health sciences pre-PA major I feel that the physician assistant that I work with has been a tremendous resource... I have gained valuable knowledge about health care through my interactions with both patients and providers," said Roehl.
With 24 current participants in all three areas, Gentry said they're looking to continue expanding the program in preparation for the Health Center's move to the new Student Success Center over Spring Break 2014. Find out more about UHC volunteer opportunities and download an application.