On June 13, nearly fifty people gathered at Royal Jubilee Hospital, where they were recognized for their significant contributions as volunteer patients with the Island Medical Program (IMP).
Following food and refreshments, several members of the IMP – including staff, faculty, and a third-year student – expressed their gratitude and emphasized how important volunteer patients are to medical education.
“It’s hard to overstate their impact,” said Karen Basi, the IMP’s patient program coordinator and organizer of the annual appreciation event. “They’re helping our students build the knowledge they’ll need for the rest of their careers.”
Volunteer patients are members of the community who participate in clinical skills sessions. With the support of a clinical faculty member, they help first- and second-year students learn bedside manners and how to conduct physical examinations.
Whether they’re health or living with an illness or disability, volunteer patients also offer their medical history, allowing students to better understand what a healthy body looks and feels like, and how it reacts to different conditions.
Judy Nobel has been volunteering with the IMP for eleven years. She first learned about the opportunity in the newspaper, then attended a meeting to learn more. She’s been coming back ever since, and the students are the biggest reason why.
“They’re fantastic – eager to learn, respectful, and genuinely grateful. They’ve always made me feel very comfortable.”
“My only disappointment is that I’m not called back more often,” she added.
Patrick McKernan, who’s entering his fourth and final year of medical school, says his time with volunteer patients has taught him skills he couldn’t have received anywhere else – skills that will not only benefit him, but healthcare in general.
“I hope they know just how important their contribution is,” he said. “When we hit the wards, we’ll be using what we learned with them during clinical skills. In that way, volunteer patients aren’t just helping us become better doctors – their making a very real impact on the future of healthcare as a whole. And that’s remarkable.”