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Volunteering pays off for teenagers
by Alex Jackson
Now that summer is in full swing, many students are looking for cool
ways to beat the heat. Some teenagers would rather spend their summer
break at home, but some eager-minded individuals are getting a head
start on their careers by volunteering.
and Brandon Maxwell demonstrate wheelchair techniques.
The Candy Stripe Program provides young people with an opportunity to
explore different careers in health care. The students are able to work
in many areas of the hospital including the Welcome Center at the North
Tower lobby and the Research Support Center.
The teenagers are not just observing what happens in the hospital, they
are participating in the experience. Hands-on training is an
instrumental component of the learning process. “They are an
extra set of hands,” said Katy Kuder, manager of Volunteer Services.
The students can assist the hospital staff which enables the staff to
devote more time to their patients. The teenagers can run errands
throughout the hospital and transport patients when being discharged.
The program has increased the number of hours worked by participants
since its first year in 2007. Last summer, approximately 100 students
volunteered nearly 5,000 hours. By the end of this summer, nearly 75
students from local high schools will have worked almost 6,000 hours.
volunteer recruiter, shows Maria Galvez and Princess Iheanetu how to
serve coffee and tea.
Kuder credits the program’s success to the youth’s enthusiasm to give
back to their community. The students are required to work 72 hours in
a two-week period; however, many of the teenagers enjoy the experience
so much that they work an additional week.
Jessica Hignutt, 16, and Chaniqua Washington, 15, worked at the Welcome
Center. The girls appreciated the opportunity “to learn how to use a
wheelchair properly,” which is a necessary skill to have since both
students would like to work in the health care field.
Volunteers also deliver flowers to patients, and serve tea and coffee
to employees at the nurse’s stations. Maria Galvez, 15, and Princess
Iheanetu, 14, delivered tea and coffee throughout the hospital. “The
tea cart is a big staff satisfier,” Kuder said. “They look forward to
seeing the cart, because it makes their day,” Princess said. After
employees are served, complimentary tea and coffee are offered to
Some of the volunteers have hopes of becoming nurses while others are
interested in becoming doctors. MUSC volunteers also have gone on to
become students and employees.
Maria wants to become a pediatrician, because she loves children.
Because she was born prematurely, Princess aspires to become a
Jimmy Liu, 16, volunteered in the Research Support Center. He enjoys
science and plans to become a doctor.
The volunteer program allows students to be productive during the
summer. Many of the students are children of MUSC employees, which
allows parents to bring their children to work. “It’s a tangible
benefit that the employees really enjoy,” Kuder said.
Many of the hospital’s faculty and staff gave positive feedback to the
students and the volunteer program. Manager of Ambulatory Women’s
Health, Angela Raney, R.N., commented on the help given by Emily Chong.
Emily was able to translate for a patient in her native language of
Mandarin Chinese when a pregnant woman needed to get to the hospital.
Raney appreciates Emily’s ability to break the language barrier between
the patient and the hospital staff.
Kuder is planning to make the Candy Stripe Program better each year.
She would like to have candy stripers all year long. During the school
year, students would be able to volunteer after school, which can be
the most perilous time of day for students. Parents would not have to
worry about their children, because they’re in a safer environment.
Meanwhile, the trend of volunteering is changing. Many retirees are
working in community hospitals instead of university hospitals. MUSC
can cater to young people who are interested in a career in health care
since it’s a teaching hospital. Kuder would like to have pre-nursing
students from area colleges to volunteer in the hospital because, “the
doctors and nurses can provide a unique learning experience for the
students,” Kuder said.
The teens participating in the Candy Stripe Program this summer will
receive a certificate, some goodies and a letter of completion for
their school to recognize their achievement. The volunteer program is
demonstrating their mission that MUSC is a place where young people
have purpose and can make a difference in health care.
For more information on the volunteer program, call the MUSC medical
center at 792-3580 or Ashley River Tower at 876-3102.
Visit the volunteer Web site at
Friday, Aug. 8, 2008
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