Candy Stripers Gain Work Experience

candyNot only do they earn more than 200 hours of community service and become eligible for a scholarship, the volunteers in the Junior Auxiliary Program (JAP) gain experience in the medical field and learn interpersonal skills.
The JAP has been a program in Coos Bay for more than 25 years. Chairman of the Junior Auxiliary Suzie Marcy has been involved with the program for 17 years. Marcy handles the applications and helps direct the volunteers if they are having trouble or are confused.

“They man the information desks, answer the phone, direct visitors toward a patient’s room and they deliver flowers,” Marcy said.

Many students at Marshfield have participated in the program. Sometimes known as candy stripers, the volunteers work from 4-7 p.m., either on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Most of them work at least two days a week. Although they work in the hospital, the volunteers do not have any contact with patient records.

Sometimes the volunteers get to interact with the patients, but more often than not, they do not have direct contact with them. However, senior Sarah Baker said she had an enriching interaction with a woman who had just discovered she had cancer.

“I helped a lady, and I got to pray with her,” Baker said. “It was really nice.”

Baker has been in the program since January 2012. Carlee Christoferson, another senior, has been in the program since the summer of 2011. She joined because she wants to be an obstetric nurse, working in the area of labor and delivery.

“It’s a great way to get your foot in the door, and it’s an opportunity to see everything that goes on in the hospital,” Christoferson said.

Senior Krista Edwards joined the program shortly after Christoferson did. She is also thinking of pursuing a career in the medical field, but as an esthetician or a dermatologist.

“I’m still thinking about it, but originally I wanted to go into radiology,” Edwards said.

Many students join because they want to go into the medical field, but others, like senior Essence Botts, join for the experience. Botts has been in the program for one year.

“My mom works at the hospital, so she wanted me to try to get into the medical field,” Botts said. “It’s just a great way to learn people skills.”

The volunteers have to deal with various types of people throughout their shift.

“Some of them [visitors] are really grumpy and some of them are really nice,” Edwards said. “It shows you that you have to work with whatever you’re given.”

Along with people skills, the volunteers learn how to deal with problems in the workforce and with other employees, as well as how to build relationships with them.

“You make a lot of good connections; the older ladies that I work with are really sweet,” Edwards said. “It’s good to have adult people like that in your life that you could go to.”

Baker has also built strong relationships with some of the volunteers from North Bend High School.

“I have a couple of friends I wouldn’t have made if I wasn’t in the program,” Baker said.

Although the program has been successful, some volunteers said it can sometimes be stressful to work there. When the new part of Bay Area Hospital was being built, there was talk that the volunteers who would be moved there would face changes in their work.

“There were a lot of rumors about the new area,” Edwards said. “We wouldn’t get to eat over there and we wouldn’t get to do our homework”

After the renovations were finished, however, the volunteers were allowed to stay in the wing they were in.

With all of the characteristics of the program, Baker said the experience is worthwhile.

“You make friends and you get to help people,” Baker said. “It just makes you feel a lot better about yourself.”