APHN Volunteer Reflection

“You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.” ~Winston Churchill

Below is an article written by one of our volunteers, Li Ying. Li Ying is a Year 2 medical student at The National University of Ireland, Galway.

A Reflection on Volunteering with APHN

by Li Ying (article edited by Marita Linkson)

The healthcare industry often conjures up images of doctors with stethoscopes and patients in wards. However, so much more goes on behind the clinical setting; hidden from the public eye. Volunteering at APHN has opened my eyes to the work of regional networks and the most important aspect of their role; connecting medical professionals so they can share information and promote seamless integration of patients into different healthcare settings.

As a volunteer with APHN, my primary role was to assist with administrative tasks. One of my roles was to help collate and update the directory of palliative care services in Asia Pacific. Although seemingly mundane work, my volunteer coordinator, Joyce, regularly encouraged me to read more about palliative care and recommended courses for me to broaden my understanding. She took the time to explain her role and told me what palliative care meant to her. This helped me to really appreciate the value of my work.

A bonus of my volunteering stint at APHN was the opportunity to visit a local hospice and immerse myself in the services offered to patients. I had the privilege of both visiting the day care hospice facility, and following nurses on their home visits. Both experiences gave me first-hand experience interacting with the ultimate beneficiaries of APHN. Meeting the patients and staff devoted to palliative care dispelled some misconceptions I had about palliative care; for example, that palliative care is mainly for end-of-life patients. While that is generally true in a hospice, there are also patients who have outlived their prognosis, hence being admitted into a hospice is definitely not a death sentence! Early recognition of the need for palliative care helps to chart the journey for improving a patient’s quality of life before it gets too late. I have learnt to recognise that palliative medicine is as much an investigation into the patient’s beliefs, hopes and desires, as it is a focus on symptom and pain management.

Volunteering at APHN really gave me a more holistic view of palliative care – a perspective I would not have gained if I had simply volunteered to befriend patients. Thanks for this opportunity, APHN!

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