Teen volunteers get a taste of the medical field at LDS Hospital

Posted at 10:22 PM, Aug 25, 2013
and last updated 2013-08-26 00:22:21-04

SALT LAKE CITY – The LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City is giving students the chance to join their staff for one day a week during the summer.

The LDS Hospital Junior Volunteers program, which has been running since 1956, is helping students realize their career goals in the medical field, and the volunteers are helping people in the hospital feel more comfortable.

Lynn Wilde, director of volunteer services, said the program is for teenagers.

"We invite those young people from our community ages 14 to 17 to come to LDS Hospital and encourage them and give them the opportunity to serve and see what it's like to be in a hospital,” Wilde said.

Tanner Barton, 17, is one student who volunteered his time.

"I've wanted to work in the medical field since elementary school, so I was overjoyed to be able to have this opportunity, and it's been amazing to be a part of,” he said.

Wilde said they try and match volunteers with a task they’ll like.

"We meet with them, we ask them a few questions so we kind of know what their interest is and why they want to volunteer, and then we do the best job that we can to match them with the needs at our hospital,” Wilde said.

Barton said he is interested in matters of the heart.

"Sixth grade was probably the year I decided: I want to be a heart surgeon,” he said. “This has reinforced my thought that I really want to get into heart surgery after I eventually graduate.”

30 students are given the opportunity to work along with nurses and doctors as they care for patients at the hospital. Barton said working in those conditions has given him a new perspective.

“I didn't realize fully how great I had it, going into high school, going into that summer,  and just seeing, you know, people who have these medical conditions that have these needs to go into the hospital makes me realize how good I have it,” he said.

Wilde said the program is a bright spot in a world that can sometimes seem dark.

"The junior volunteer program is a reminder to me what is right with our world, because we hear so many of the things that aren't going right, and these young people probably could be doing something else with their summer,” she said. “But they choose to come here and give 4 hours one day a week out of their time, and that's commitment."

The program runs from June until August, and the students are allowed to participate up to four times.