Embracing Discomfort in Imperfect Solutions : Mercy Volunteer Corps

Dear Future Volunteer,

In my placement as a social work assistant at Mercy Medical Center, I got the opportunity to work with patients throughout all stages of their hospitalization, from their visit to the Emergency Department, through admission to inpatient care, and until their discharge. My role is to link them to community resources and work with the doctors, nurses and other medical teams to ensure that their needs are met in the hospital and after they are discharged. My patients often experience a complex set of constraints that affect their health, from housing insecurity to a history of substance abuse to general financial difficulties. They are sick, frustrated, and afraid. I provide resources and help, but as you might guess, this only goes so far. It is often a great disappointment for my patients and myself to learn that the social determinants of health that so often cause, or at least contribute significantly to, the health challenges they face are ingrained in our society and not easily overcome.

But some of the most rewarding and memorable moments in my placement come when I accept the discomfort and disappointment of not having the answers or resources to fix every problem my patients face, and I just sit back and be with them. Time and time again I experience the powerful impact of compassion, listening to patients without trying to offer advice, and acknowledging that what patients are going through is unfair and difficult, and that I am sorry and I am here to listen.

As someone who, like most of us, loves fixing things for others and doing things to help, this is never easy. It can make me feel inadequate or unhelpful, and it can be tempting to withdraw, away from the predicament and the awkwardness of not having answers. It takes a degree of courage and vulnerability to admit to patients that there are no answers or solutions to all of their problems – that emergency shelters will only be a temporary housing option or that they are not eligible for currently available financial assistance programs.

In a way, the challenges and inconveniences discussed here are representative of my entire year of ministry. Over the past four months, in my placement, community and personal life, I have been repeatedly challenged to demonstrate courage, vulnerability and a willingness to adapt to new circumstances. This challenge has pushed me outside my comfort zone and created growth in ways I never expected. I encourage you to consider a year of service to find value in vulnerability and discomfort, and to experience beauty with the people you serve.


Josh French

Josh French: Baltimore, Maryland

Source link

You May Also Like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *