Two young women standing outside a building leaning over a sign

Two Swansea University students have given their ambitions to become doctors a shot in the arm by volunteering in Morriston Hospital’s Emergency Department (ED).

Hannah Medley and Emily Pascoe, both aged 21, have spent the past 18 months doing volunteer shifts in the busy ED while completing Applied Medical Sciences degrees. 

The pair have now both been offered the chance to return to the University’s Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Science to study for a graduate entry, four-year medical degree, which will see them qualify as doctors. 

Hannah said: “I have had the opportunity to try a few different volunteering roles in Morriston Hospital over the last 18 months. I started in the Acute Medical Unit (AMU), and then moved into the Emergency Department where I undertook a similar role, really seeing the realities of working in a fast-paced ED. 

“ED brings new challenges every shift. A large part of the role is providing patients with food and drink. We help the Red Cross with offering food to all the patients in the department.

“But it’s also chatting to patients, hearing loads of people’s life stories, which is really interesting. People often feel lonely in ED, or understandably don’t want to be there, so our role often involves reassuring them, calming them down and helping people find their relatives. I’ve had to help someone phone their wife. 

“My favourite part is interacting with the patients and understanding more about their personal situations. Getting to know the patients often helps to improve the support we can offer them.” 

Emily says she has found the role equally inspiring. 

She said: “I thought it would be a good way to get an insight into what it was like working in a busy hospital. 

“We’ve spoken to a number of students in the years below us who want to go on to do medicine afterwards, and recommended volunteering in Morriston. It is such a good opportunity to see how the environment works and how staff work together in teams for patient care. 

“The part that I take the most from is speaking to the patients and trying to understand, from their point of view, how they are feeling in the situation and what you can try to do to make it an easier experience. 

“Something as small as going over to someone, giving them a cup of tea and having a chat can help provide comfort during difficult times. Things like that that the staff just don’t have the time for.” 

And volunteering in one of the busiest emergency departments in Wales hasn’t put the pair off training to be a doctor. 

Emily said: “Actually, it’s been quite the opposite – it has inspired me. There’s so many different roles in ED and it is interesting to see how they all work together. Doctors, nurses, and other allied health care professionals communicate with one other and utilise their different skills to provide effective patient care.” 

Hannah said: “We have certainly seen the pressures the ED faces, with ambulances queuing up outside and patients waiting for hours to be seen. The staff are absolutely working so hard behind the scenes, going that extra mile, to see all the patients as quickly as they can. ED is an exciting environment to be in. It’s stressful but all the staff are so inspiring.” 

Both Hannah and Emily, who each did a three-hour shift each Friday, believed volunteering strengthened their applications to study medicine. The pair recommend all students contemplating a career in medicine give hospital volunteering a go. 

Karen Thomas, Interim Matron in ED, said: “Our lovely volunteers who support our service users in the Emergency Department have become an integral part of our ED team.” 

SBUHB Volunteer Coordinator Julia Griffiths said: “We are thrilled to see Hannah and Emily moving on to study medicine at Swansea University. The girls have been a great asset to the Emergency Department and we look forward to seeing them back as medics.” 

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