Volunteers are a crucial component of Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital’s team approach to patient care. And for many of them, the volunteer experience they receive at Henry Mayo is the first step to successful medical careers as nurses and doctors.
Maria Strmsek, director of volunteer services at Henry Mayo, received the good news recently that several hospital volunteers had been accepted into medical and nursing schools for the upcoming fall semester. Two of the volunteers have coincidentally been accepted to the same medical school in Buffalo, New York. A third volunteer has been accepted into a Los Angeles nursing program.
“It's nice to know that through our doors an entire population of nurses and physicians will one day be in practice and they got their beginnings at Henry Mayo,” said Maria Strmsek, director of volunteer services. “It’s nice to know that we make a difference.”
Brett Harmon, 24, of Acton, was accepted into the University of New York, Buffalo, Medical School. Harmon earned his bachelor’s degree in integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley. His chosen field of study is Orthopedic Surgery.
Harmon volunteered in Henry Mayo’s Outpatient Surgery department where he was given the opportunity to shadow Dr. Ranbir Singh and other doctors on their rounds, interact with nurses, and see first-hand what the job entailed.
“Volunteering is a good trial run,” Harmon said. “As a volunteer, I could move around and check things out, talk to doctors and get the pros and cons.”
“Going every week for trial rounds was a great experience. Getting hands-on experience and seeing what it’s all about gave me a better idea of what to expect and what I was getting into.”
Harmon will be leaving in August for Buffalo, where he found out just recently, a fellow Henry Mayo volunteer will be attending the same medical school. The two volunteers, who never met during their volunteer stint, were connected via e-mail through Strmsek.
Michael Bingham, 22, of Santa Clarita, is glad for the connection and looks forward to meeting Harmon. Bingham, who earned his bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering at California Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo, volunteered at Henry Mayo for several months in the Emergency Room, ICU, Pathology and Radiology.
Though he initially planned on becoming a biomedical engineer, he soon realized he wanted to be a doctor. His volunteer experience at Henry Mayo helped him cement that decision. He plans to study Emergency Medicine, Trauma Surgery or Radiology.
“I loved the environment at the hospital,” Bingham said. “I knew I wanted to be a doctor and, as a result of my volunteer experience, I could see myself doing that one day.”
Bingham shadowed several doctors, including Dr. Richard Goldman. He was able to see how the entire system worked from the time the patient was admitted to when the doctor made his or her diagnosis.
“I knew for sure I would be happy doing this and volunteering motivated me to keep trying to get there,” he said. “I want to thank everyone at Henry Mayo, particularly Maria and Dr. Goldman for their guidance and help.
Jennifer Emmons, a volunteer at Henry Mayo since January 2010, was recently accepted into the Los Angeles County College of Nursing and Allied Health. The Stevenson Ranch resident joined the hospital’s volunteer force to get a glimpse of what to expect as she embarked on her nursing career. Her two-year program begins August 15.
Emmons, 36, who is married and has two children ages 14 and 12, earned her Associate of Science degree in biological and physical sciences at College of the Canyons. She worked in dentistry for 10 years but had wanted to be a nurse since she was a child. So when she got the chance to go to nursing school, she took it.
“I knew I wanted to be exposed to what nurses do,” Emmons said. “I thought this [volunteering] would prepare me for what I was going to get into. At Henry Mayo I got to experience the sights, smells and sounds at the hospital. Now I know what to expect as far as workload and responsibility. And I think I am better off because of it.”
Emmons volunteered in MS1, where she refilled water, changed towels in patient rooms, assisted patients with non-nursing tasks, and performed clerical errands to the pharmacy and lab. Her favorite part of the job is helping patients. Once she graduates, she would either like to work in labor and delivery or trauma.