Tom Goldie, a retired trucker from Vancouver saw the Volunteer Patient Program as opportunity to give back. After suffering a major heart attack in 2006, he credits the many medical professionals for saving his life and getting him back on the road to recovery.
Tom was one the first Volunteer Patients to get involved with the Southern Medical Program when it officially launched in January 2011. He learned about the volunteer opportunity from a nurse while visiting the Cardiology Department at Kelowna General Hospital. Since then, he has participated in 2 to 3 sessions each year and really enjoys the experience working with the students.
Throughout his various medical treatments, Tom has learned a lot of his condition. “My brain has become a sponge for new medical knowledge and it’s been great to be able learn alongside the students,” said Tom. “A lot of the students are nervous initially when the start each session, so I try and crack a joke and get them to relax.”
With plans to continue volunteering for the foreseeable future, Tom added “it’s fabulous that the medical school in here and hope that students will want to work here in the Interior and the North.” When not volunteering, Tom is an avid musician and can be found playing the base guitar at the odd house party in Kelowna.
Jane Crawford was excited for the opportunity to volunteer with UBC medical students – so much she was even willing to travel to Vancouver. When she got word that she could help here in Kelowna for Southern Medical Program, she jumped at the chance to participate.
In 2010, Jane was the successful recipient of a liver transplant. Through an online Facebook support group, she learned about the Volunteer Patient Program and how it relies heavily on community volunteers to assist in training future doctors. So Jane along with six members from her support group decided to sign up and have helped with two sessions to date with plans to continue for the future.
Jane has truly enjoyed the experience and appreciates the opportunity to learn alongside the students. “The students are so enthused and nervous, but so enthusiastic,” said Jane. “It’s great to see the students telling the doctor what they are looking for, why they are looking at certain things, and see their minds at work.” She laughed recalling a surprise encounter running into one of the same students during a visit to a local family practice clinic.
Through her own medical experience, Jane sees the value in teaching the students about how to interact with patients. Adding, “I loved it and hope to have brought something for them to learn from. I let them know that they are a human being and to not ever lose that.”
Thomas Cameron is a fourth year Bachelor of Science student at UBC’s Okanagan campus. With the advantage of green card at his disposal, he has reached an educational crossroads whether to stay in Kelowna to complete a masters program or go to the United States to become a physician assistant. He also hasn’t ruled out the possibility of a future application to UBC medical school.
The Volunteer Patient Program piqued his interest as an opportunity to learn more about how medical students are educated. Thomas has participated in six different cardiovascular and musculoskeletal sessions for the Southern Medical Program so far and is already booked for more with our new crop of students that arrived this past January.
“I love interacting with the students and see how the instructors work with them,” said Thomas. “The instructors also had the sense that I was up for learning as well. I was able to learn a lot about medical terms and even how to turn an eyelid inside out.”
Thomas always tries to get the students to laugh and relax before each session. He has also seen a real progression in their approach over time. It’s been a really interesting experience and will be helpful in deciding his future career aspirations.