NIH Clinical Center celebrates support provided by hundreds of volunteers
During National Volunteer Week, April 15-21, the NIH Clinical Center honored 125 volunteers for the support they provide 28 hospital departments and countless patients. The Volunteer Program is led by the Office of Hospitality and Volunteer Services. Two volunteers who are making a difference are Chaoyang Wang and Nathan Wright. Read a bit about them below – and learn how you can volunteer.
Wang is in his third year at the University of Maryland studying Physiology and Neurobiology with a minor in Piano Performance. He is applying to medical schools.
His family background influenced his decision to volunteer at the NIH and shaped his dream of becoming a surgeon. His father is a biostatistician at a drug company and his mother is an OB GYN nurse at a local health facility. When Wang was on summer break during high school, he began volunteering as a student researcher at NIH pancreatic cancer and adult bone marrow stem cells research laboratories.
Since 2017, when he discovered the volunteer services program at the NIH Clinical Center, he has been volunteering on the 9th floor Outpatient Medical Surgical Specialties Unit one day per week. Wang assists patients with medical appointments.
"Creating a welcoming environment for patients dealing with health issues is important on the unit," said Wang. He also volunteers in the Radiology Department one day per week. "I work closely with the Radiology technicians and the nurses and have observed how interdisciplinary healthcare is at the NIH."
Volunteer Nathan Wright, a former Marine Corps marathon runner who uses the marathon motto "Run with Purpose, Finish with Pride," came to NIH after a life changing event. Wright, a retired NASA aerospace engineer who worked on the Hubble Space Telescope, hoped to participate in a NIH clinical research trial and find answers regarding the two strokes that he experiences. Unfortunately, the clinical trials available at that time were not a good fit for him personally, but he remained impressed by the parallel connection between the brightest minds in medical research at NIH and the brightest minds in space exploration at NASA. So he wanted to find another way to connect with NIH.
Helping others interested Wright, so in 2017, he began volunteering at the Clinical Center, offering coffee and snacks to patients as they wait for their appointment.
"Patients brighten up when I serve them coffee. Serving others is a selfless act, whether you're serving for your country in the military or serving patients at the NIH Clinical Center," he said.