It’s National Student Volunteer Week from 20 – 26th February 2012. To highlight the wonderful work of our student volunteers we are sharing the experiences of one of our medical students, Claire Ferraro, who worked as a Support Worker at our Project:London clinic while she studied at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. She also appeared in the student BMA news.
She says it was an ideal opportunity to practice her communication skills and have contact with patients: “The service users are often so desperately in need of help as a Support Worker you are easily able to see the positive impact of your work. It’s a real "get-away" from academic studies and quite often a harsh reminder of the difficulties some people face on a day-to-day basis. Whilst working/studying in the NHS, it's sometimes easy to forget that there are still people who miss out on our excellent healthcare.”
Volunteering gave Claire practical skills: “I became really confident at communicating effectively with service users via translators, either in person or on the phone, which should be invaluable in my foundation job in east London. In addition, I quickly learnt to be assertive on the phone with GP secretaries and practice managers whilst advocating for GP registration for service users. The clinic relies on working effectively in a team with other support workers, the nurse and/or doctor and communicating back to the office. I had first hand experience of giving explanations, recording accurate information, coping with distressed relatives, being empathic and this was always in the context of language and cultural barriers.”
“Project:London is a really friendly and rewarding place to volunteer. There is nothing better than being able to tell someone you've successfully found them a permanent GP. The overwhelming gratitude and relief at being able to access healthcare when they need it emphasises how much they were in need of help in the first place.”
If you would like to become involved with Project:London or any other volunteer opportunities for Doctors of the World, read more.