Hannah Rinehardt, a college junior studying premed, began volunteering at the OSUCCC – James to gain some experience with patients and to smooth the path to medical school admission. But she didn’t expect to be so moved by the experience.
As part of her volunteer duties for the Restful Night Program, every Wednesday evening from 6 to 8 p.m., Hannah pushes a cart down the hospital corridors, stopping to offer amenities such as snacks, hot tea or lotion to patients. The goal of the program is to give patients a more restful evening, because often they are being woken up in the middle of the night to have their vitals taken or to be given medicine.
Hannah said she often writes in her journal after her volunteer experiences, and it’s the patient interactions that stick with her the most. She can see up to 30 patients in one shift, but certain individuals stick out in her mind. She remembers a time when she met a young woman who had just graduated from The Ohio State University.
“Cancer can affect anyone,” Hannah said. “That woman actually volunteered too, just like me.”
Having the opportunity to meet with many patients and talk to them one-on-one is what Hannah enjoys the most. “I expected people to tell me that they were scared. But what I found instead is that they are happy and so thankful,” Hannah said. “They look me in the eye and thank me for volunteering.”
Hannah would encourage anyone to give their time to help others. “You don’t have to be pre-med,” she said. “When you perform any kind of personal service and go back every single week, you get so much out of it.”
Hannah plans to continue volunteering at the OSUCCC – James even after graduating. She wants to continue during medical school, but has a feeling she will be seeing plenty of patients by that point.
“I know for sure this is what I want to do long-term,” she said. “There is nothing like the feeling I get from making patients feel more comfortable in their situation. I never expected to get so much in return.”