"I just wanted to help in any small way I could"

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Year 3 Student Doctor, Emma Jackson, has been volunteering at Whiston Hospital for the past month. She tells us all about how she's gotten on.

Why have you chosen to volunteer at the NHS during the pandemic?

"It’s hard seeing our mentors, colleagues, family and friends ‘on the front lines’ and I just wanted to help in any small way I could. I know we’re not working yet but I still feel part of the NHS community and wanted to lend my support."

What has volunteering been like so far?

"I have been volunteering for a month at Whiston Hospital now. I do three short shifts each week and am based at the main reception. Every day has been completely different as we all try and figure out how things work in this new and crazy time.

When I started, I was mostly meeting and directing patients and visitors. Now that visiting is suspended our main role is taking patient belongings up to the wards. This helps protect visitors and saves on staff time collecting deliveries.

We also recently started a volunteer response team! Any ward/department can contact volunteers directly to ask for help with things like deliveries, restocking, and helping patients being discharged. There is also a new pharmacy home-delivery service and a ‘pen pals’ scheme for friends and relatives to send in handwritten letters/cards to patients."

What skills do you think that you will gain from this experience?

"I am learning a lot about how hospitals run normally and all the things that happen outside of the wards - and how this all changes in a pandemic! Every day is different and brings a new challenge we had not considered before.

It really makes me think about what we can do differently to further improve experience and care for patients and visitors. Not to mention I will certainly know my way around Whiston Hospital if I am placed there next year!

I am also learning about how difficult this time can be for patients and relatives. I can’t imagine how hard it is to not be able to visit a sick relative, or to be poorly and not have your family and friends around you."

Have you met any particularly inspirational doctors, nurses or extended medical staff?

"As I am based at reception, I haven’t had much direct interaction with clinical staff, but I have been so proud to see our final year medical and nursing students arriving for work in the last few weeks!"

Being part of the volunteering team has been fantastic. The office team have been working so hard to ensure our safety and make sure we are able to help as best we can in this new situation.

Do you have a message that you would like to share with your new co-workers at the NHS?

"For my NHS colleagues: thank you so much for the work you are doing. I especially want to thank all the behind-the-scenes staff at the hospital who I have had the pleasure of getting to know better. If anyone is at Whiston and needs help from the volunteer team, please let us know!

For everyone at home: like many others I felt helpless when university ended. I researched lots of ways to get involved but nothing was really set up at that point. I was desperate to help and didn’t know how.

Some of you may be in a similar situation, or unable to volunteer/work for health reasons and to protect family members. Please be kind to yourselves and know that whatever you are doing is enough."

Hospital Heroes

Are you one of our student doctors, currently volunteering for the NHS? We'd love to hear more how you're getting on. Send us an email at mednews@liverpool.ac.uk if you'd like to be featured in one of our next Hospital Heroes stories! Thank you for all that you are doing.