Published on Monday 04 June 2018
A junior doctor at Wirral University Teaching Hospital told how joining the Trust as a volunteer gave her the first important step into the world of medicine.
Dr Claire Lavelle, who is based in the Emergency Department at Arrowe Park Hospital, said the early days of volunteering at the hospital gave her valuable early experience of how to provide the best patient care possible.
She has shared her story as part of national Volunteers’ Week, which runs until 7th June, to encourage others to think about becoming a volunteer.
Born in the United States, Dr Lavelle came to live in Thingwall in Wirral at the age of six with her family who are originally from the area.
Dr Lavelle was the first in her family to go into the medical profession however she had to work hard to achieve her goal. Although she achieved the grades to go to medical school her application was denied as she required further experience in a hospital setting.
Undeterred she made the important decision at the age of 18 to undertake a gap year and dedicate herself to volunteering at the hospital.
Dr Lavelle said: “I started working on the reception desk and I helped with the wheelchairs. It improved my communication skills and gave me a better understanding of the hospital. It gives you an appreciation of all the different people it takes for patient care to work properly.
“I later worked with the team that handles compliments and concerns. How you speak to people is hugely important and that experience has stuck with me.”
Following her gap year she embarked on her five-year medical degree at Lancaster University in 2011. After graduating two years ago she decided to come back to Wirral University Teaching Hospital and is now a junior doctor based in the Emergency Department.
She said: “I spoke to other doctors who had come to Arrowe Park Hospital and they really rated the teaching and support there. The application to come back was quite competitive as it is a popular hospital among junior doctors. With my family being so close and all the good things I had heard I thought it would be nice to come back.
“It felt lovely to come back. This is my local hospital and when I’m with people on wards I’m motivated to provide the best care possible. I know if my family were cared for at Arrowe Park Hospital they would be given that level of care.
“I see familiar faces of people I went to school with who are now midwives or in other roles. There is a real sense of community at the hospital.”
Dr Lavelle still remains extremely grateful for the volunteering opportunities she was given by Kathy Orme, who is the Volunteer Co-ordinator at the Trust.
She said: “I had encouragement throughout my volunteering process. Volunteering during my gap year was a valuable experience. When I went for my interview at the university I had so much to talk about.
“I’m really grateful for the opportunities that Kathy gave me because that was key to my application to medical school and to my own personal growth. The volunteers at the Trust are fantastic. I would encourage anyone to get involved in volunteering, even if they can give an afternoon once a week or time after school.”
Kathy Orme, Volunteer Co-ordinator said: “I’m very proud of our volunteers who give their time for free. It is extremely rewarding volunteering in a hospital as every role helps our patients, whether it is befriending people in their time of need or being there for a bereaved family member. It is also wonderful that skills learned through volunteering can be really valuable for a future career.”
For more information about volunteering at Wirral University Teaching Hospital please email firstname.lastname@example.org .
Dr Claire Lavelle, a former volunteer who is now a junior doctor based at Arrowe Park Hospital’s Emergency Department.