Ambassadors, Camryn Harris and Sarah Mitchell, are both pre-med majors and enjoy the hospital knowledge they are gaining as Ambassadors
Ambassador Kayla Walters helps a hospital visitor find his way.
HATTIESBURG, Miss. – (March 17, 2022) It’s not just on St. Patrick’s Day that you’ll find the wearing of the green at Forrest General Hospital, but every day. Guests at hospital entrances are greeted on a regular basis by college-age students wearing green blazers who might be considered the hospital’s pot of gold – the Forrest General Ambassadors.
Ambassadors, who are 18 years of age or older, have the opportunity to earn community service hours in their various roles at the hospital – whether helping visitors find a patient’s room, delivering flowers and mail, answering questions, or most importantly, being a friendly face to greet those who enter the doors at Forrest General. During holidays, visitors may find the Ambassadors making their way to the different departments and units around the hospital or in the hallways handing out goodies or sharing a kind word in an attempt to put a smile on the faces of visitors and employees alike.
“The Ambassador Services program helps students interact with the community, practice their customer service skills and also gain experience in the hospital setting,” said Vicky Buxton, Volunteer & Guest Services director. “It’s important and makes a strong impact on students to boost the patient experience by enhancing the We C.A.R.E. values we have at Forrest General.”
Ambassador Services has become an essential part of Forrest General Hospital and is comprised of several areas, including Leadership, Patient Care Rounding, ER Care Partners, Information Desks, Customer Care Experience, and Departmental Support. “Students rotate through each of these programs which provide them with direct contact and interaction with patients, visitors, families, and staff,” said Buxton.
In some instances, these young people, after having served and seen the inner workings of the hospital, have chosen to pursue an education path that might one day lead them to a career in the healthcare field.
Sarah Mitchell and Camryn Harris are both pre-med students studying at the University of Southern Mississippi. They are also both from Brandon but attended different high schools.
“I’ve fallen in love with the Ambassador program,” said Mitchell, who wants to go into Radiology. “This is really helping me get exposure to different things around the hospital,” she said.
For Harris, finding a volunteer program amid the COVID-19 pandemic, was difficult, but Forrest General’s Ambassador program provided her that opportunity. While being of service to others, Harris also wanted to obtain more experience in the medical field as well as getting the feel for being in a hospital setting. She hopes to pursue a career in psychiatry.
Harris said an important part of the job is being a friendly face for everyone in the hospital, but also to provide support for patients who don’t have family or friends who can visit. The two Ambassadors had returned from taking a gift to Labor and Delivery where they found a room with just a mother and her newborn. “It was heartwarming to be a part of that experience,” Harris said.
Mitchell recently had an experience when she was pushing the Ambassador’s Hospitality cart around the hospital. The cart is filled with activity books, hygiene items, socks, toys, and other items. “I went into a room to offer them something off the cart, which is free, and the family members were so excited,” she said. “They asked about making a donation, because they thought this was something really great the hospital was doing. Having not seen this at any other medical facility, they felt this made Forrest General really unique – providing items for their patients and caring enough about them and their experience while a patient.”
Mitchell said while getting exposure to different fields of work, it provides a very good opportunity for networking with the hospital as well as job shadowing.
Students in Forrest General’s program are selected through application, resume, references, and an interview process. “This program, which has limited acceptance, provides students pursuit of medical and healthcare careers and an opportunity to serve their medical community with important, non-clinical responsibilities,” said Millie Swan, Forrest Health vice president. “Not only does the program allow students to gain community service hours, it places them in a position for clinical and patient exposure, and provides them with an avenue by which knowledge of the medical culture can be learned and skill sets sharpened.”
Students who are interested in participating in an Ambassador position go through an interview process and must meet the following requirements:
- Must be at least 18 to serve in this program.
- Must be able to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination.
- Ability to communicate clearly.
- Be energetic, friendly, and outgoing.
- Must have an ease with starting conversations.
- Complete orientation and commit to minimum of volunteer hours required per session, 12 hours.
“Ambassador Services has become an essential part of Forrest General Hospital and is comprised of several areas, including Leadership, Patient Care Rounding, ER Care Partners, Information Desks, Customer Care Experience, and Departmental Support,” said Buxton “Students rotate through each of these programs which provide them with direct contact and interaction with patients, visitors, families, and staff.”
For more information about becoming an Ambassador, visit www.Forresthealth.org/ambassadors.