Lauren Hannani staff writer
Starting next month, the Medical Science Academy (MSA) will be given the chance to volunteer at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center for the second year in a row. However, this time, UCLA is offering the class a program created exclusively for MSA students.
Last year, students could volunteer at the university’s hospital as part of its regular program offered to high school and college students. But after the chief administrative officer of UCLA’s Mattel Children’s Hospital visited our school a year ago to observe the class, the two have been working together to offer only students enrolled in MSA a chance to choose what department they want to be placed in to volunteer. The departments include child life, blood and platelets, and patient transport.
“I’m very excited about this opportunity. I volunteered the past two summers at Cedars Sinai, and it was great, but I think UCLA will be more beneficial,” president Chantel Yeshova said. “We will be able to interact more with patients and doctors, and gain more learning experience.”
Because of the students’ ability to decide their placement in the hospital, Yeshova is looking forward to learning more about patient interaction and skills used in the medical field.
“I hope we can all learn the appropriate ways to interact with different types of people at the hospital,” she said. “I also hope we will be able to use our knowledge of the medical terminology to understand the procedures and language that the doctors use.”
Other MSA members are just as excited to add UCLA to their list of volunteer service options.
“Any way that we as a program can influence the lives of others and relieve stress for the medical personnel that do that daily is beneficial,” junior Jason Mirharooni said. “UCLA is another awesome way that we can do that.”
MSA coordinator Colleen Lynch is very optimistic that this program will help students discover their interests and disinterests, or whether they even want to go to medical school or not.
“As young as they are and inexperienced as they are, I think the key to finding what they would like to pursue as they get older is exposure. So the key to finding out what you really want is to expose yourself to a bunch of different opportunities, and finding ones that you like and what you don’t like,” Lynch said. “We can keep you here in this box, education, but this isn’t going to tell you what you really want. So that’s why these real-life experiences help shape and expose them to what the options are, what they are attracted to and what repels them.”
Although Cedars Sinai is another health institution that students have been gaining knowledge and experience from for many years, Lynch thinks that one of the benefits unique to the Ronald Reagan Hospital is the fact that it is in of one of the most well-known and prestigious universities in the country.
“We’re so lucky we have these amazing facilities in our neighborhood. We’re not far from either of them. We’re right in the middle of both…it is our community,” Lynch said. “But the advantage there [at UCLA] is they have a university, medical school, dental school…they’re massive. It’s a massive amount of opportunities, resources, researches.”
Similarly, for some MSA students, UCLA is one of their top schools for college.
“Being affiliated with the school that I have dreamed about going to for the past eight years is a bonus as well,” Mirharooni said.
Their experience at the hospital could potentially impact their lives even beyond college.
“Having this choice is amazing for our MSA kids,” Lynch said. “They’re getting to really customize their placement, and that can lead them to all kinds of places…finding something they love, building relationships with UCLA. This could be the beginning of their careers as we know it.”