Niharika Burugapalli '20 aspires to be a surgeon and has spent the summer volunteering at Yale New Haven Hospital. The hospital's volunteer program is very competitive, requiring multiple forms, a recommendation from a teacher, an essay, and an interview, but Niharika was very motivated to get first-hand experience in the medical field. She plans to pursue a career as a trauma surgeon because she enjoys a challenge and knows that each day on the job would be different from the one before.
As a volunteer, she helped to greet and guide family members as they entered the surgical family lounge and escorted them to visit their loved ones in pre- and post-op. In the afternoons she worked as a patient aid on the cancer floor, where she visited with patients, assisted nurses as they did their rounds, prepared rooms, and helped to keep everything clean and orderly.
Niha said that for her, the program's biggest reward is "seeing the smile on someone's face and their family's when they are one step closer to recovery after facing all of their struggles. It is also very rewarding when you help someone out with something, however little the task may be, knowing that you made their day a least a little bit brighter."
The program has also taught her to put her own problems into perspective. "I have met terminally ill patients whose days are numbered," she wrote, "and realized that we should stop worrying about the little things and live our lives to the fullest."