In departments throughout UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s®, we are fortunate to benefit from the selfless contribution of a dedicated group of volunteers. Our quality of care is given a boost daily by these generous souls, from those offering a hand to assist with clerical duties and providing non-clinical aide to departments, to those who serve on committees and boards, donate their time to visit with our patients and families, or contribute in myriad other ways.
St. Luke’s would not be the same without them.
That is why we are so excited to show them a little extra love during National Volunteer Week, which is celebrated April 7-13 this year.
Among our most dedicated volunteers is Kenny Osten, who donates his time to serve the Pediatrics Unit. From a young age, Kenny was interested in pursuing a career in medicine. He says a helpful suggestion led him to inquiring about opportunities to volunteer at St. Luke’s.
“I was discussing with my college advisor ways I could get experience working in a healthcare setting without any work history in the field,” says Osten, who is from Humphrey, Nebraska and a sophomore at Morningside College with a pre-med dual major of Biology and Chemistry. “He suggested volunteering. It just happened that they needed help on the Pediatrics unit and that is the specialty I am most interested in. It is perfect for me.”
Osten says one of his primary roles is simply playing with the children on the unit. Engaging with them playing board games, doing puzzles, or just using their imagination helps them to forget why they are there for awhile.
“I really like spending time with the patients,” Osten says. “My main role is to distract them from the fact that they are sick. Knowing that I can help them take a step back from what they are dealing with, and to help them feel better in a different way, is really cool.”
Osten started in January and has quickly become a valuable member of the Pediatrics team. In addition to his work with patients, he also assists nurses with non-clinical tasks, does some clerical work like answering phones, and also makes visits to the parents of patients to socialize and help them unwind a bit.
He loves the vibe on the Pediatrics Unit.
“This is the first time I have ever volunteered at a hospital, so the first few days were a little awkward because I didn’t really know what my role was,” Osten says with a chuckle. “But from Day 1, I was welcomed in. It is like a family up here and even though I haven’t been here long, I’ve become a part of that family.”
For those wondering whether a volunteer experience at St. Luke’s is worthwhile, Osten says give it a try.
“It is a great opportunity, especially for students,” he says. “It looks great on a resume, but it goes much further than that. It is an opportunity to help someone else. It is a unique pleasure to know that I am helping others.”
And in giving of his time and talent, one thing has become crystal clear for Osten.
“This has been a great way for me to affirm that I want to pursue a career in medicine.”