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From 20 to 24 May, Mater is celebrating National Volunteer Week and recognising our volunteers like Rahima who collectively contribute more than 750 shifts across Mater every week.
Mondays are hard for some people, but for Mater volunteer Rahima it’s the best day of the week. It’s the day when she looks forward to making people happy.
Every Monday, Rahima volunteers as a patient companion in the Mater Hospital Brisbane Emergency Department, where she supports patients by offering them a cup of tea or coffee and chatting to them.
“Most patients are so appreciative that we offer the service. I think a warm cup of tea in your hands can be quite comforting,” Rahima said.
“I also look out for patients who don’t have any family or friends with them, and I’ll go and see if they’d like to have a chat. I hope it helps the time to pass more quickly for them.”
Patient companion is the perfect role for this self-confessed “chatterbox”.
“We only make small talk, but it’s such interesting small talk because everyone’s story is different and they come from all walks of life. It’s like a cross-section of the world right here in just a small part of the hospital.
“I met a really interesting fellow a few weeks ago. He was the head butler to the Queen when she visited Papua New Guinea. He had so many stories and I had the best time talking to him.”
Rahima is definitely a ‘people person’ and it’s this realisation that has her considering a change of direction in career.
“I completed a Bachelor of Science, followed by an Honours year in which I did a research project. Although I enjoyed it, I don’t think lab work is for me long-term. I’d like a job that involves people,” Rahima said.
Rahima hopes to be accepted into medical school this year. In the meantime, she is currently studying a Masters of Public Health.
“I’d like to be that trifecta of a person who has some research and public health experience, as well as clinical experience as a doctor.”
Rahima says her role as a patient companion will be an asset to her should she be successful in becoming a doctor.
“By volunteering in the Emergency Department, I’m getting some experience in a clinical environment.
“More importantly, I’m seeing part of the patient journey firsthand. I try to put myself in their shoes and think about how I would feel in their situation. Empathy for patients is so important to being a doctor.
“But the best thing about volunteering is the happiness it brings me. It truly makes me happy when I know I’ve made other people happy. And often all it takes is a friendly smile and a cup of tea.”
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