Brooke Stark – Helping through hospital volunteering
By Emily Sorensen
For Brooke Stark, a recent Poway High School graduate, giving her time at a hospital had always been something she’d thought about doing.
“I’ve always wanted to volunteer at a hospital,” said Stark. After seeing an ad for the Palomar Pomerado Health Clinical Career Extender Program, she got her wish. The internship program, which is all-volunteer, allows the interns to work side-by-side with hospital staff, assisting patients and nurses alike.
After spending a month trying to get an interview at the Palomar Medical Center, Stark was accepted into the program as a high school intern. “I thought I’d be a candy striper,” said Stark. Instead, Stark found herself working with college interns and nursing staff.
Stark’s time as an intern began with an 18-hour orientation, even before they got to the hospital. She and her fellow interns also received department-specific orientations, each of which lasted about a day, where they were taught to perform the tasks expected of them.
“They teach you as much as they can,” said Stark. “You’re pretty prepared.”
Each rotation in the program is three months long, and Stark is currently finishing up her fourth rotation. Beginning in the medical surgery unit, Stark assisted nurses and patients by helping patients get water, feeding and bathing patients, and making patients comfortable, all of which Stark said helped reduce the stress on the nursing staff.
“They say we play a pretty helpful role,” said Stark of the nurses. “I feel pretty appreciated.”
After the medical surgery unit, she rotated to orthopedics, and then to the emergency room, where she learned to take vitals and help the nurses bring patients into the emergency room. Stark said she wasn’t allowed to go into the trauma center, but she did get to watch sutures being put in.
Currently, Stark is finishing out her time in the program in the Birth Center at Pomerado Hospital in Poway, where she gets to observe births and caesarian sections, take vitals and bathe the newborn babies. Her time as an intern will continue through Monday, Aug. 20.
In addition to volunteering with the hospital, Stark volunteers at her church’s thrift shop as a cashier, works with a sibling grief support group, and also volunteers for the Family and Friends Community Connection, with whom she traveled to Haiti in April to distribute food.
“[The internship] was my stress reliever,” said Stark. “I got to tune out the outside world. I looked forward to it more than school.”
Despite Stark’s busy school life and commitment to other volunteer work, she managed to find time to work two four-hour shifts a week, usually one on the weekends and one after school. Stark says she’s volunteered between 250 and 300 hours this year with the program. “I love being busy,” said Stark.
Thanks in part to her time with the program, Stark is planning to study nursing at the University of Portland, beginning in the fall.
“I’ve always been interested in nursing,” said Stark. “I’ve always wanted to work in a hospital and help people.”
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