My Experiences at DVMC

Priya V -

Hello again! 

As I’ve mentioned previously, my internship location is at HonorHealth’s Deer Valley Medical Center (DVMC), a nonprofit hospital. DVMC is a medical pillar for the surrounding area, as we handle not only inpatient care for patients that are sick enough to be admitted to the hospital, but also procedures for outpatients, or healthy members of the community. Additionally, some physicians also use the office spaces that are located in the accessory buildings of the hospital to conduct patient visits and follow-ups. 

At DVMC, I’m currently volunteering in the Preoperational/Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (Pre-Op/PACU) and the main Information Desk. While in previous years I have served in Pre-Op/PACU, Information Desk is very new to me, and my fellow volunteers have taught me a lot about the hospital and the people within it. In Pre-Op/PACU, my main responsibilities are to keep the wing clean and ready to receive patients, and to wheel patients who have woken up from anesthesia out to their cars. At the Information Desk, I work with 1-2 other volunteers to guide outpatients and family members throughout the hospital and transfer paperwork from the Admitting Desk to other areas of the hospital. Additionally, we handle any gifts or flowers sent to patient rooms, and handle communication between units through the phone system.

Overall, my experience this year has been unique, even though I have volunteered at HonorHealth for two summers now. There is major remodeling happening throughout the hospital to increase efficiency, as well as another medical office building being added along the rear of the building. This means that my job at information desk is now much more complex, as I am navigating a much less intuitive and much less familiar layout than I am used to. I’ve used this as a point of connection with patients and their families, bonding over the parking situation and poking fun at how far the walk is to move around the hospital. As a volunteer, I work hard to be a point of relief for staff, patients, and families alike, even though I’m certainly not thrilled to be awake at 6:45 in the morning. I’ve interacted with family members who are already grieving a dying patient, and those who are furious about a new diagnosis. Calming others and understanding what they need is the main goal of my position, and I’ve already learned a lot of new social skills as a volunteer. 

Interacting with nurses and other staff, I’ve realized that the problems of burnout and emotional labor are just as prevalent as my background research has led me to believe. Overflow into other units due to an abundance of cold and flu cases, as well as scared and angry patients and families, is constantly sapping the energy of the medical staff as they work to control and calm the emotions of themselves and others. As volunteers, our role is to provide support in order to offset this burden, but most of the school-age volunteers only serve during the summer months, and many of the older volunteers are not able to do the heavy lifting and physical activity required in units other than the Information Desk. 

Despite all of this, I’ve found an overall very positive and supportive community at DVMC. Every volunteer and staff member I’ve met has been willing to help me as I learn my new position, and there is an underlying silent agreement that our goal is, and will always be, to provide the best care possible. On my first day at Information Desk, I got turned around multiple times while trying to lead family members to patients’ rooms. For example, I didn’t even realize that there was a small wing of 10 beds on the north side of the 2nd floor, aptly named 2 North. After wandering the 2nd floor with a poor family member for around 5 minutes, I stopped by Endoscopy on the same floor, and one of the nurses was happy to show me to the unit. I had a good laugh with the other volunteers once I was safely back to the Information Desk, and I have many more stories about how I’ve been supported by everyone else in the hospital. 

– Priya <3

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    Hi Priya, glad to see that the work is still enjoyable even if you do make mistakes sometimes! Do you have any preference between your original volunteer positions and the Information Desk?
    Hi Colin! I would say that both have positives and negatives. While I love being able to work together with fellow volunteers at the Information Desk, I also love the more fast-paced environment at Pre-Op/PACU, as well as being able to observe the care being administered firsthand.
    Hey Priya! It's so awesome that you have this passion to help out patients and your fellow nurses, especially when you see them struggling emotionally. Do you anticipate any practical application or solutions to dealing with COVID-19 burnout when you complete your research? For example, like a coping mechanism other healthcare workers may be able to utilize?
    Hi Priya, I love hearing about your site placement and how it informs your research. It sounds like volunteers may really help folks in the healthcare industry dealing with burnout. Have you noticed any other things that may help support healthcare workers dealing with burnout?

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