National Health Corps Pittsburgh Blog

"Why do people volunteer? When asked this question, I think most people would answer with something along the lines of, “Because it feels good to help others.” But where does this “good” feeling come from? Is it because it truly feels good to know you are helping make someone’s life better or meeting a need in an underserved community? Or, is it because volunteering allows us to absolve ourselves of some of the guilt we feel for being more privileged than others?"
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"When I look back at myself as a brand new AmeriCorps member during PSO, I am struck by how formative this year has been for me. I knew that time in National Health Corps was likely to be impactful, but I never expected to learn and evolve as much as I have. Rather than this happening through distinct, dramatic moments, I think that I have learned the most through my small, day-to-day tasks and interactions at my host site."
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"Reflecting on what to write for this blog post, I immediately decided to share my favorite memory/story from the year. I sat down with every intention of doing just that, however, when I began to write one story, ten others would also pop into my head that felt equally important. This has led me to reflect on how impossible it would be to pick a single story to represent and express everything that this year has meant to me."
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"I’m convinced that it was just yesterday that my roommates and I walked into our first day of pre-service orientation (PSO) and recited the AmeriCorps pledge. The feelings of excitement of the unknowns of what the service year could bring occupied my mind the night before our first day. I’ve been reflecting a lot on these memories lately, especially now that we are just a month away from finishing out our program. I’ve created a lot of new memories since that first week of PSO, and many involve the stories of the individuals that I’ve had the pleasure of serving."
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"Let’s face it, we all love food, right? As the Diabetes QI Coordinator at Shadyside Family Health Center, I get to talk about food, a lot. One of my major roles is to sit down with patients who have uncontrolled type 2 diabetes to discuss management strategies. The majority of the time, this conversation turns to food. Usually, I have the patient walk me through their typical eating day, so that we can discuss modifications such as adding vegetables at dinner time, or substituting the kind of carbohydrates they are eating at breakfast. However, I began to recognize a pattern in the conversations that I was having. Many of my patients reported they knew what they should be eating, but were not because they could not afford to do so."
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"Let’s talk about the definition of “service”. Often, people automatically think of “helping others. At first glance, both words have good meaning. The difference between these words, “helping” and “serving”, are quite significant. Something to be cautious of is by “helping” people we are inadvertently looking at people as if they are on a different level than us. By “serving” people we are looking at them as if we are equals and they are whole. With that, we can benefit those by building them up instead of diminishing what it is to be, their human-self."
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"When I begin to reminisce on my time in National Health Corps, I think back on the AmeriCorps pledge I read out loud on my first day. The same pledge I stare at everyday above my desk. As I read the first line, I think about how my position and other positions in NHC all work to make the people of Pittsburgh safer, smarter, and healthier. Within my position I take on many roles that work towards achieving that goal."
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"As the service year begins to draw to a close, I am left reflecting upon the experiences and growth that this year has given me while still trying to soak up as much as I can in my last two months here. My experiences with the Birmingham Free Clinic have undoubtedly been a catalyst for growth for myself and have pushed me to think, learn, and do things differently each day. I have learned so much about the healthcare system, the people it serves, and the people who slip through its cracks. My understanding of underserved populations has grown ten-fold along with my knowledge of barriers and social determinants of health. My love for public health continues to grow each day, as well."
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"For many, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is a term that is important to use instead of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). The idea of an infection is much less scary than that of a disease, and considering how many STIs do not necessarily turn into a disease, many feel that this term is more accurate. There have been numerous times throughout this year where I have met with community members and those in academia to discuss the services offered at Allegheny County Health Department’s STD/HIV Program, and I have been corrected and told that I should be using the term “STI” instead."
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"Overall, these three new initiatives are true testaments to the power of connections and tapping into established networks to reduce barriers to accessing preventative health services. Simple things like obtaining free and easily accessible condoms, clean water, and more time for doctors to listen and patients to feel empowered really go a long way."
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