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Volunteer Spotlight: Andrew Yang

June 7, 2018
After a grueling four years of college, most pre-med students would enjoy some much-needed time off before the fast-paced and nonstop grind of medical school began.

Not Andrew Yang.

The hardworking 22-year-old got a job as a research assistant at Johns Hopkins and moved to Baltimore after getting his bachelor's degree from the University of California, San Diego. But in addition to his schedule there, he felt a draw to volunteerism.

"When you're looking into a medical/MD program, you're so focused on being a doctor, sometimes you might overlook the other people who are also playing a part in taking care of patients," Andrew said. "By participating in a volunteering activity and then working from a viewpoint not as a physician, you can really see the necessity of really good teamwork and collaboration to provide the best, comprehensive care."

At Hopkins, Andrew works full-time in a lab developing new treatment strategies for cancer, so for his volunteer experience, he sought something a little different. Working weekend hours in the Emergency Department at GBMC has given him a different perspective, and the staff made him feel like a part of the team.

"They wouldn't look down on you because you're a volunteer. They really treat you as another team member," Andrew said.

Andrew was a dedicated volunteer and wanted to ensure he was providing value. Sanitizing and resupplying rooms, he hoped to speed up the process of patients being taken care of, saving physicians and staff time as well as allowing patients to come in and out faster.

In addition to increasing efficiency on the unit, he saw how the humanity of his volunteer role made a difference. He recalled one day where he provided a patient with a warm blanket and saw the patient immediately relax. It showed Andrew "even the small things you can do for the patient really means a lot to them during the whole caring process."

Andrew will begin medical school in Houston in the fall, but is taking a long trip over the summer to Taiwan to visit his parents. While Andrew's time with GBMC has been short since starting in March 2016, he has made an incredible impact on the volunteer staff and those in the ED who are excited to see him when he enters the room. It is clear the feeling is mutual.

"Starting from the responsiveness from applying for the volunteer activities and all the way through the completion of the entire service experience, GBMC just felt very friendly and very rapid in terms of response," Andrew said.

"Definitely for people who are in a similar situation – someone looking into a potential patient care career – I think definitely going into a volunteering opportunity with an open mind and really experience caring for the patient from a different angle, then it can really help you to understand, to not just take care of the patient in the way you originally intended, but to take care of the patient in the way the patient wants to be taken care of. That's very important. That really teaches me – especially the lessons of GBMC: health, healing and hope – experiencing the patient care process through multiple different angles really helps you understand the meaning of those three words."

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