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Volunteer for Hospice?

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by happy2learn happy2learn (New Member) New Member

happy2learn works as a Employed at a Level 1 Trauma Center.

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My summer quarter has ended, and I'm looking to add more volunteer shifts. I can't find a job, otherwise I'd just do that. Job market stinks here.

Anyways, I'm considering Hospice. Ultimately, I'm looking to eventually have volunteer experience with every hospital network in my area. I had a job interview at the hospital I am currently volunteering at and she mentioned that being a volunteer (or employee) has an advantage as they will look at your resume first over other candidates.

At hospice, I can work a meal shift, feed patients, and talk to families. Or I can be a "vigil volunteer." I would just sit at the patient's bedside for comfort and companionship when it is believed to be the final hours. I'm torn between these two.

I know how to feed, since I'm an STNA. I think that experience would be good.

However, I haven't been around too many people who are dying and I feel this is an area I need to start getting comfortable with. One of the reasons I am becoming a nurse is because I want to make a difference in people's lives, even if that means I am just sitting there so they are not alone throughout the terrifying process. I think being in that atmosphere may help me and give me an advantage (mentally) as compared to someone who has never been there.

But, I'm afraid I'll cry. If the patient starts crying or if a family member does, I'm going to have a hard time NOT crying. I can hold my emotions most other times, just not when I see someone else cry. I don't want to look unprofessional, which is why I'm not sure if this is a good idea. On the other hand, I don't think it would be too big of an issue (as long as I wasn't crying the entire time and it didn't interfere with my duties). I think the point is that the patient has someone there who can show they care about them.

What do you think would be the best option? I'm torn, and training starts in a month, so I need to decide.

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KimberlyRN89 works as a New Grad.

23,299 Visitors; 1,641 Posts

I am in the same boat as you :(. I work in assisted living & LTC, so I'm around a lot of hospice patients. I would like to start working with our local hospice agency but I don't know how I would be able to handle it emotion wise..but I really appreciate the opportunity of working around hospice patients & I think the service they provide is great.

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6,031 Visitors; 559 Posts

But, I'm afraid I'll cry. If the patient starts crying or if a family member does, I'm going to have a hard time NOT crying. I can hold my emotions most other times, just not when I see someone else cry. I don't want to look unprofessional, which is why I'm not sure if this is a good idea. On the other hand, I don't think it would be too big of an issue (as long as I wasn't crying the entire time and it didn't interfere with my duties). I think the point is that the patient has someone there who can show they care about them.

I think you should grab every experience you can get your hands on and take it!

As far as this part I quoted...there are some different schools of thought about this, and sadly as I read this you've been sucked into the "nurses are professional robots" one. I don't mean that critically, and I know it's very common. There is NOTHING unprofessional about crying at the bedside of a dying patient or of showing compassion in that way to a family who is grieving a loss. NOTHING. The kind of nurses needed in that situation have a lot more specialized personal skills than most other positions require. If that's what you want to do and you are able, those patients and families will be very blessed to have you.

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happy2learn works as a Employed at a Level 1 Trauma Center.

7,747 Visitors; 1,118 Posts

Thanks everyone.

And anonymous student, you are completely right. It's hard to not feel that crying is unprofessional. I appreciate your advice. Thank you so much. You made me feel a lot better about this decision.

I think I'm going to go for it. :)

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