Monday, July 15, 2013

Not Self, But Others

by Laken P., Panther Blogger

This summer, I had the opportunity to volunteer at the Remote Area Medical Clinic at the Bristol Motor Speedway.  The event is used to provide free dental, physical, and eye care to people in rural areas who have little or no health insurance.  After working in patient registration and blood pathology for the weekend, I not only helped thousands of people receive free healthcare, but I also came out with a changed outlook on life.

The Ferrum College motto is "Not Self, But Others."  I saw this exact philosophy put into action when doctors, dentists, nurses, technicians, office workers, and average people came together from all across the country to donate a few days of their time and services to help others. As I worked the front registration tables, I witnessed thousands of people camp out in their cars and tents for days to attend the clinic. For some of the attendees, the clinic is the only form of healthcare that they will receive all year.  I thought about how frustrated and aggravated I get when I have to sit in the doctor's office waiting room for longer than I want to be there, and I realized that I really am fortunate that I am even able to go to the doctor at all.

By giving up a weekend of my time and contributing some of the skills I have learned in Ferrum's pre-med curriculum, I was able to do my part to help in a significant way. Knowing that a few thousand people were able to get their teeth cleaned, receive a new pair of free eye-wear, or get a thorough physical from a doctor was one of the most indescribable feelings I have ever had. Volunteering at the clinic helped put life into perspective and gave me the extra push to realize beyond any doubt that becoming a doctor is what I want to do for the rest of my life.

At Ferrum College, the curriculum is designed to not only help you reach your career goals but help shape you into a better, well-rounded person who is able to become involved in the community. By working at the clinic and witnessing a smile on the face of someone who is sick and hurting, I truly say that "Not Self, But Others" comes to life. Sure, I had to wake up at 4 a.m. and work extremely long days while sitting out in the cold rain, but I was not there for myself. I was working at the clinic to put others first and use the opportunities I have been given to help the less fortunate.

Not only is the education at Ferrum one of the best you can get, but sometime during your time there, you will see that not only do you grow academically, but you also grow as a person. Community service and helping others will no longer be something you have to do; it will be something you want to do.  I can't wait until next year's clinic, and I plan to make volunteering an annual tradition for me, even after I have a medical degree added to my name!