The hallways of Sharp Grossmont Hospital are home to a daily mix of patients, visitors, nurses, doctors, pet therapy dogs and a strong corps of volunteers. Among those who give their time freely is the largest group of junior volunteers within the Sharp HealthCare system — a troop of curious and kind-hearted kids eager to learn about health care and help wherever they can.
Sharp Grossmont benefits from the enthusiastic support of 250 high school students who make up its Junior Volunteer Program. Launched by the Women’s Auxiliary of Grossmont Hospital back in 1956, the program has continued and flourished under the guidance of the hospital’s Volunteer Services department. In addition to high school volunteers, Sharp Grossmont also hosts 100 college students who donate their time.
The robust Junior Volunteer Program is a win-win not only for the students, but also for the hospital staff, patients and the community at large. Beyond serving as a line item on a college application, the program serves to promote workforce development and community service, and expose bright, young minds to the ever-changing world of health care.
“It sounds cliche, but children really are the future,” says Kay Andalis, Junior Volunteer Program coordinator at Sharp Grossmont. “Here, they get exposure to what it is like to be in a hospital — whether clinical or administrative — as well as all of the cogs in the machine that run an entire health care organization.”
Nate Kim comes to Sharp Grossmont from Coronado High School, where he is enrolled in six Advanced Placement classes. He is interested in becoming a physician assistant, and fills the Friday evening volunteer shift in the surgical intensive care unit (SICU).
“I volunteer so that I can explore the field, I can see what the nurses do, and see patients being prepped for and coming out of surgery,” he says.
Volunteer Ahmad Mahmuod says that although he thought a career in health care was on the horizon, volunteering at the hospital opened his eyes to other possibilities. “I realized the whole hospital isn’t just physicians, but there are others behind the scenes,” he says. “I was thinking I might have more passion for other careers, like human resources, especially at a hospital.”
One of the Grossmont Hospital Auxiliary’s four areas of focus is scholarships. For the past several years, they have awarded $25,000 in scholarships annually to eligible high school seniors in the Junior Volunteer Program.
Veteran volunteer Katie Stinchcomb began volunteering at age 12, when she made bright hats and brought them to babies in the hospital. Now a 16-year-old student at Steele Canyon High School, she says although a medical career is not necessarily where she is headed, she is interested in returning to a hospital to help out in any way, even if she chooses another career path.
“I’ve just met a lot of really cool people through this program, and it inspired me to be like them,” she says.
Learn more about volunteer opportunities at Sharp Grossmont Hospital.
For the news media: To talk with some of Sharp Grossmont’s Junior Volunteer Program for an upcoming story, contact Erica Carlson, senior public relations specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org.