Bachelor of Nursing student Laura Casey is the winner of the Community Engagement Award at the School of Nursing and Midwifery Awards ceremony held recently at the University of Newcastle.
After discovering volunteering in years 11 and 12 and loving not only the joy it brought to the people she was involved with, but also the life experience she gained, Laura continued to look into volunteering while at University.
Laura has been volunteering for the past two years at the John Hunter Children’s Hospital working with the play therapist in the paediatric oncology ward.
“My experiences volunteering in the facility have proved to be invaluable to my nursing practice,” Laura says. “Interacting with sick children and their parents has developed my communication skills as well as gaining trust and building therapeutic relationships, as often kids can be the hardest patients to win over.”
Laura has found working with the play therapist has given her a greater appreciation and understanding of utilising the interdisciplinary team at the hospital, and she has seen firsthand the benefits of doing so.
As the youngest volunteer, Laura has also enjoyed interacting with fellow volunteers who have completed their careers. “They are always so willing to give advice and provide valuable interactions that can only be gained by talking to the older generation in our community,” she explains.
Initially Laura was unsure whether she wanted to work in paediatrics, but her volunteer experiences and a recent clinical placement on the paediatric oncology ward have helped to clarify her goals.
“After working with these incredible children and their parents, I would love to use my volunteer experiences which have enriched the knowledge I have gained at university, and work as a registered nurse in paediatric oncology.”
Laura urges other students to consider volunteering. “It isn’t just for retirees and the hours can be flexible – it could be just a one off commitment or as regular as weekly,” she says. “There is a lot to gain personally and also for your local community.”