Volunteering in the ED? Check...

Volunteering in an ED with MD’s and DO’s, check.

I’ve floated around a local ED for about a month (one day a week for four hours) and have managed to not look like an idiot (mainly because I’m pretty skittish so it’s not like anyone has seen me being an idiot).

I see the opportunity in front of me. I can compare DO’s and MD’s side by side. One of the MD’s (I did some black helicopter stealth research on him) went to a medical school I’m very interested in. I’m sure I don’t have a chance in hell of getting in there, but I can dream, right?

I’m also interested in the DO approach and want to have the best understanding I possibly can of the two approaches to medicine.

Unfortunatly, I’m a social retard and haven’t got a clue as to how to ask these guys if they’d mind “showing me things” or “teaching me the cool stuff” or whatever the latest informal (I hate being formal) catch phrase is.

I forgot to add, I’m also shy.

Help me. What do I do? What do I ask? Do I need to be able to crack jokes around them before I ask? Or, do I just suck it up, tap them on the shoulder, and demand to let me follow them (kidding…I think?). Or are ER docs going to be too busy and not want a tag-along? They’re not ‘friendly’ but I think it’s due to being busy, understandably.

I’m also a volunteer, so I don’t want to neglect my duties either.

Or, maybe I should wait until I complete my upcoming EMT clinical at another ER so I’m not such a newbie-know-nothing? Like I said, I’m skittish and shy, which is a big reason I decided to become an EMT to get over that. I think a clinical might give me some confidence (I hope at least).

I dunno. I can’t stand being socially retarded and am looking for your guidance.

And now, I wait for the “And how old are you?” questions.

Don’t be afraid of them…they won’t bite…at least I don’t think they will. Docs are people too (or most of them) and put their pants on one leg at a time, pay taxes like the rest of us and even eat and go to the bathroom! I guess what I’m trying to say is they are very touchable people…you just have to find the right one. Ask the nurses around the ED and they will be able to tell you who is the best to “talk to” cuz they work with them day in and day out sometimes for years. No, nurses don’t bite either (most of them, anyway). If you don’t step up to the plate you could be missing a wealth of info from the current docs, xray views etc that may even be helpful in the EMT course. Oh, the best time to really get “learn time” in, is when the ED is not so busy…although a “not so busy ED” is an oxymoron, there are times that are less busy, but they mostly include the wee morning hours (If they exist at all).
Hope this helps. Good luck.

I was painfully insecure and shy before I became an EMT and recently a paramedic. I think that’s one reason I chose to become a medic. But circumstances never change you, you decide to change cause you have to. It’s worked for me. I can still be shy sometimes, takes awhile to get over.
Just imagine how the confidence you’ll learn in EMS will ensure you make it later on in medicine.


Don’t be afraid of them…they won’t bite…at least I don’t think they will.

Well, in my experience, they do.
I worked for an optometrist when I got out of highschool. He was as mean as a snake. I’d ask a question about a patient. As an example, “Mr. Smith called and is having trouble with his contacts. Would you like to talk to him or have him come in,” as I held the man’s chart in hand. I’d then get snapped at about, “Well, what do YOU think” and a lecture would follow about how I need to learn more quickly and basically called stupid. So, yes, I’m a bit afraid of them and something I can’t believe I still need to get over.

I remember when I volunteered 10 yrs ago in Long Island and I don’t remember the Drs being friendly. They weren’t rude but they weren’t engaging as far as conversation goes. Now that being said I am working fulltime as a scribe in a teaching hospital and so far all the Drs are great. They engage me in the assessment, plan and the lab results. It’s great and very motivating. I haven’t seen any volunteers in my dept yet (ER) so I can’t speak for their experiences. Could my experience be because I am working with one Dr for his entire 10 hr shift and I am his scribe- I take his patient histories for him as he calls them out (so I’m in the room with him and the patient). I tell him what lab results came in and essentially write up his chart and make sure all the it’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed. I see a lot and i am included in a lot. Maybe because were colleagues now. I don’t know. Or maybe because it’s a teaching hospital. Don’t k now. It’s only my first week on the job and I’ve had lunch with Drs and great conversation about medicine, how they got in as well as personal experiences. It’s very motivating, especially when a Dr tells me they did a link program or had to apply 3x b4 finally getting in. it def keeps me going.

I hope this helps.

It all depends on the doctor.

Does ED -mean Emergency Department? just checking I always like to make sure i know the acronyms.
P.S. just remember that you want to learn so asking questions is okay, I am shy too sometimes - but someone once told me “make fear your friend” so when I get nervous I try to remember that and it helps especially in intimidating new situations.