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Volunteer Gives Back to Her Community, Gains Acceptance to Medical School

December 19, 2013

Durany Mohammed, a Washington Hospital Service League member, volunteers in the emergency department. Years ago, when she was in sixth grade, Durany Mohammed wrote an essay saying that she wanted to be a doctor when she grew up. Today, the Santa Clara University graduate is one step closer to achieving that goal after learning she has been accepted to medical school next fall.

After three years as a Washington Hospital Service League volunteer in the emergency department (ED), Durany gained a greater understanding of health professionals and the medical field. Beyond the reward for her service, she has also gained a sense of accomplishment in giving back to her community.

“I have lived in Fremont most of my life, and I have always been interested in the field of medicine,” Mohammed noted. “I was volunteering with the HERS Breast Cancer Foundation (located in Washington West at 2500 Mowry Avenue in Fremont), and I saw a flyer about other opportunities for volunteering at the hospital. I decided to volunteer in the ED because I thought I would see more patients there and be exposed to a broader array of medical conditions.”

Durany’s primary responsibility in the ED is to be a patient companion and provide emotional support to patients and their families while they wait to be seen.

“I’ve had a lot of memorable experiences in the ED,” she said. “For example, I vividly remember a woman who came into the ED with her husband. She was having complications with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), and I ended up having a long conversation with them, which helped her relax and get her mind off her worries. It’s rewarding when you’re able to help other people like that.”

She also runs errands for the ED staff, including trips to the laboratory and pharmacy.

“I learned a lot from observing people on the ED staff and seeing how well they work together,” she added. “The people on the staff are all very friendly, and they are always thanking the volunteers. The hospital even acknowledges our contribution of volunteer hours in their newsletter. It’s nice to be appreciated that way.”

Durany’s appreciation for Washington Hospital’s Service League is not limited to their coordination and teamwork.

“What I like about the Washington Hospital volunteer program is that you can sign up for a schedule that matches your own,” she explained. “The shifts range from two to four hours, and you can sign up for as many or as few shifts as you want. When I was taking more classes in college, I could cut back on volunteering, but during the summers I could volunteer more often.”

“I also appreciated the extensive training they provided before I began volunteering,” she continued. “They have you go through an orientation and two separate training sessions. During the training, new volunteers accompany long-term volunteers on their shifts to learn the ropes.”

Part of Durany’s inspiration for becoming a hospital volunteer came from her parents.

“My dad runs his own business, and my mom is retired from working in the banking industry,” she said. “They have always reminded me that the opportunities I have been given are due partly to other people who have given back to the community. I do think my experience volunteering at Washington Hospital played a part in gaining acceptance to medical school, but my involvement has meant a lot more than that to me. All the time I spend volunteering at the hospital, I am helping someone – either patients or staff. It’s a great feeling to know I’ve taken some time out of my day to help someone else.”

As she moves forward into medical school, currently with the intention of specializing in family medicine or pediatrics, it is a sure bet that Durany will continue giving back to those around her.

Washington Hospital Service League volunteers work closely with the hospital professionals to help provide care and support to patients, families and visitors. Since its founding in 1955, three years before Washington Hospital actually opened its doors, the Washington Hospital Service League has provided more than 1.8 million hours of service and donated more than $2.2 million to the hospital. To learn more about volunteer opportunities at Washington Hospital and how to become a volunteer, visit www.whhs.com/volunteer/.

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