Pre-Health Spotlight Series
Over the course of the spring semester, we look forward to highlighting the wonderful efforts of pre-health campus organizations serving the community. Many organizations provide an opportunity to gain clinical experience and learn about the field of healthcare.
Our spotlight blog post features reflections from Christeen Samuel regarding her participation in the Student Hospice Organization of Penn (SHOOP), an organization dedicated to serving terminally ill patients in the Philadelphia area.
Name of Organization
Student Hospice Organization of Penn (SHOOP)
Patient Population Served by Your Organization
We serve terminally ill patients who are receiving palliative care in Philadelphia.
Why did you choose to volunteer with SHOOP?
I initially wanted to volunteer in a hospice because I wanted to support the wellbeing of terminally ill patients at a truly vulnerable point in their lives. I read an article discussing the loneliness experienced of hospice patients and their caregivers. How at such times, whatever position or prestige we once had has little meaning. It’s a time when a person needs loving company the most. SHOOP helped connect me with an inpatient hospice unit in Rittenhouse and I started volunteering there weekly.
What valuable lessons have you learned from your experience?
I always viewed medicine as an intellectually stimulating field — how does the brain react to drugs? How do cancer cells escape our immune systems? Medicine overflows with intriguing questions but volunteering at a hospice exposed me to a very personal, human component of the field. A patient’s wellbeing expands well beyond the biology of their illness and into a terrain centered on the fine details of their stories — their families, belief systems, and cultures. The diversity of care providers on a hospice team, including a physician, a nurse, a chaplain, a social worker, and a bereavement counselor, reveals the true complexity of a patient’s needs. As a volunteer, I assist patients during meal times, read them a book of their interest, and most of the time just have a conversation. Many times, I walk out of hospice thinking about something a patient had told me and I feel challenged whether to reexamine my priorities or educate myself on a certain issue or culture. Now, my decision to go into medicine is about staying curious, not only intellectually but also socially and personally.
How may interested students learn more about this organization?
Interested students can email SHOOP to ask to join our listserv to learn about upcoming events, hospice volunteer applications, and volunteer stories. Our email is firstname.lastname@example.org