Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Teens volunteering at hospital makes for a win-win

HUDSON — For some kids, high school is four years of figuring out what you want to be when you grow up — or at least what direction you'll be heading in.

Amir Hussain, 15, already has his path carved out.

"My dream is to become a neurosurgeon," he said, adding that his interest was first piqued when his mother underwent a successful neurosurgical procedure.

"The brain is a complex and delicate organ," he said. "And I'd like to be a part of that."

To meet that end, the River Ridge High sophomore spent much of his summer getting his feet wet. Three days a week Amir donned blue scrubs for a volunteer stint in the operating room supply area at Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point.

"I thought this would be a good way to get some medical field experience in this environment," Amir said, while gathering supplies for the next day's procedures.

It is, according to O.R. Materials Manager Kristie Shirkey. Along with her regular duties, she oversaw six teen volunteers over the summer months.

"We're very busy. There's a lot of action — never a dull moment," she said, adding that there are 1,700 items that volunteers need to acquaint themselves with. "They get to see what kind of pressure goes on around here. It gives them the beginning pieces of what it takes to go into a specialty. It's a good education."

The volunteer gig is a win-win for teens and the hospital, said Donna Owen, who manages over 500 teen and adult volunteers at the medical center.

"It gives teens the ability to observe and see what goes on in a health care setting, to see how things operate in a hospital," she said.

In turn the work ethic and dedication of volunteers benefits the hospital.

"They are instrumental to the success of the hospital," Owen said. "They help in every area, every department."

Students must first go through an interview process to determine the best fit. That is followed by orientation and on-the-job training.

"We talk about their needs — what they might be interested in doing in the future," Owen said.

Fivay High freshman Clarice Todd, 14, was thinking ahead when she decided to sign on as a Candy Striper. She's already clocked 164 hours greeting people, running errands, escorting visitors and delivering flowers to patients' rooms.

"I wanted to get my volunteer hours in and I wanted to help people," she said, adding that one day she would like to be a registered nurse.

Danielle Heidkamp, 15, gave over 150 hours volunteering in the hospital cafeteria.

"I saw it as a way to get some experience," said Danielle, who is currently enrolled in the culinary arts program at Fivay High. "It was great. I met some really nice people and I got to see food production, which was really cool."

Some volunteers will drop off with the start of school. Out of the 110 teens who volunteered over the summer, 60 will remain.

"School is the first priority," Owen said.

Even so, she expects to see the number climb again next summer.

Most teens end up logging well beyond the 75 to 100 volunteer hours required for Florida's Bright Futures Scholarship Program, Owen said. She recently doled out Star Awards to six teen volunteers, some who logged more than 1,000 hours during their tenure.

"They don't have to stay and they do and that's the beauty of it," Owen said. "I see them giving so much of themselves. I see the beauty of what they give every day."

Michele Miller can be reached at or (727) 869-6251. Follow her @mimichele525

Teens volunteering at hospital makes for a win-win 08/20/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 20, 2014 7:39pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. After huge sinkhole opens, residents weigh future with unease

    Public Safety

    LAND O'LAKES — The wood floors creak each time Kendra Denzik dashes inside her darkened home to grab fresh clothes. She can't help but panic when they do.

    Eleven families along Ocean Pines Drive in Land O’Lakes homes are fenced in due to the massive sinkhole from last Friday on Thursday, July 20, 2017. The Doohen’s are among 11 families who had to evacuate from their homes.
  2. Tampa Club president seeks assessment fee from members


    TAMPA — The president of the Tampa Club said he asked members last month to pay an additional assessment fee to provide "additional revenue." However, Ron Licata said Friday that the downtown business group is not in a dire financial situation.

    Ron Licata, president of the Tampa Club in downtown Tampa. [Tampa Club]
  3. Under Republican health care bill, Florida must make up $7.5 billion


    If a Senate bill called the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 becomes law, Florida's government would need to make up about $7.5 billion to maintain its current health care system. The bill, which is one of the Republican Party's long-promised answers to the Affordable Care Act imposes a cap on funding per enrollee …

    Florida would need to cover $7.5 billion to keep its health care program under the Republican-proposed Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.  [Times file photo]
  4. Photo gallery: Minors also a training ground for umpires with big-league dreams


    Taylor Payne, 24, and Tom Fornarola, 23, are two of the 23 first-year umpires scattered around the bottom rungs of minor-league baseball this summer. They never met until they were assigned together but quickly developed a strong rapport. Like the players themselves, the two umpires have dreams of reaching the major …

    Umpire Tom Fornarola, 23, left, and Taylor Payne, 24, head for the locker room after the Gulf Coast League game between the New York Yankees and the Detroit Tigers at the Tigertown complex in Lakeland, Fla. on Wednesday, July 5, 2017.
  5. Minors also a training ground for umpires with big-league dreams

    The Heater

    Umpire Tom Fornarola, 23, left, and Taylor Payne, 24, facing, talk before the start of the Gulf Coast League game between the New York Yankees and the Detroit Tigers at the Tigertown complex in Lakeland, Fla. on Wednesday, July 5, 2017.