From volunteer to student doctor

Cranbourne North’s Adhav Parasuraman used to be a volunteer at Dandenong Hospital and after years of study and practice, he's a student doctor. (Supplied)

By Violet Li

Cranbourne North’s Adhav Parasuraman presented a distinctive and down-to-earth way to boost a career path in healthcare.

The 22-year-old is a student doctor at Dandenong Hospital, but he has been a familiar face on-site volunteering since he was 18 years old.

“During high school, one of my goals was to get into medicine and study to become a doctor,” he recalled.

“I didn’t have much work experience, or any outside experience because I didn’t work during school, so I thought volunteering would be a good way to gain experience in the work environment just for future occupations.”

Starting as a volunteer concierge, Adhav quickly learned his way around Dandenong Hospital.

“This was just at the front reception where patients and family members would walk in, At the beginning, it was guiding patients around different parts of the hospital. That’s a big frame, so they get easily lost,” he recalled.

“But then during Covid, there were restrictions on how many people would have come. Sometimes the visitors would drop off items, and then I would take them to the patients.

“Then we transitioned onto the wards. This again was something new for me because it was more personal and intimate communication with a patient.

“This was to improve the patient experience because, in the hospital, patients sometimes don’t get visited. Sometimes they can get a bit lonely. They don’t have much to do, so just being there for them, just having a chat with them, was my role towards the end of my volunteering.”

The volunteer roles prepared Adhav for his current student placements by building his confidence and allowing him to get to know the community of patients and teams at Dandenong Hospital.

“Coming into volunteering, I was definitely a shy and quiet kid. I mostly turned to my friends. But with volunteering, I had to expand that. I had to interact with people of different backgrounds, communities, and occupations,” he said.

“That pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped me learn those key communication skills.

“Volunteering gave me the advantage of knowing the Dandenong Hospital like the back of my hand. When I started my placement, I could easily make my way around the hospital blindfolded.

“I believe I felt and looked more confident, having the advantage of showing my work colleagues around the place.”

Looking back, Adhav could still remember those small but warm moments during his volunteer day.

“One experience was a bit special to me. One of the ladies, she broke her foot, and she couldn’t really speak much English,” he recalled.

“She couldn’t walk to the radiology room. I was pushing her around in a wheelchair to different parts of the hospital, and I stayed with her from start to finish.

“And as I was getting a taxi for her, she was really thankful and she tried to offer me a coffee, but I had to decline it because she had to go, but it’s just another memorable experience.”

Adhav is currently on his rotation in the Emergency Department. He has his sights set on a future in Emergency Medicine.