Youth Forward Scholarship Winter 2017 – Invisibility

Name: Ariana Apopei
From: Los Angeles, California
Grade: 11th
School: UCLA
Votes: 0

Being a high school volunteer at a hospital is the closest I’ll get to
being invisible. Doctors and nurses are often, rightfully so, too
busy for me, guests would rather talk to adults, and patients have
more on their minds than wondering whether the kid in the blue polo
shirt got lost in the meandering hallways or not. The four years of
4+ hours per week have been full of circumstances calling for
independent thinking and fulfilling unexpected requests, and I
learned in abundance from a variety of experiences- from simple
social pleasantries to life lessons I will carry with me for years to

When I got trained, we were given a tour of the facility, told of basic
responsibilities, and luckily for my group, assigned the task of
hand-delivering a vase of flowers to a patient on the cardiac floor.
Our trainers took us to the fourth floor, walked us to the room, and
knocked on the door- easy enough so far. We were waiting for someone
to answer, when a voice from the room next door began speaking loudly
toward us. Naturally, us trainees panicked, but the trainer alerted a
nearby nurse who then entered the room. The nurse and the trainer
eventually emerged, and both told us that the elderly woman who was
calling out was fine, but only wanted to catch our attention so she
could have someone to talk to. At first, it seemed a bit perplexing,
mainly because I expected to be rushed out of the area as doctors
swarmed the bed in order to stabilize her condition, like in the
medical dramas that aired on TV. Turns out she was just lonely.

What was supposed to be an uneventful flower delivery turned into a lesson
that unveiled something that many aspiring doctors tend to forget:
being a healer is more than prescribing medication and checking up on
symptoms, it is a job where consideration for basic human needs must
be placed first. As I progress in my path to medicine, I will always
remember that sometimes, lending an ear can be the best cure.

            Doing odd jobs offered me many learning experiences—and one situation
stands out in particular. I cleaned gurneys for some time, and once
overheard a conversation between a doctor and a patient who was in
for a minor operation—but the content of the conversation itself
wasn’t what fascinated me, it was that the doctor spoke in fluent
Spanish, calmly explaining the procedure to him with the steady
reassurance doctors own. I wish to replicate the comfort that doctor
relayed to his patient, whether it’s through overcoming a language
barrier, understanding difficult situations, or learning about
intricate social issues that affect minorities in the complex world
of healthcare.

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