Junior nursing major Molly Amado hopes to practice in pediatrics someday, but she’s already impacting children with health and medical needs – long before she stepped on the TCU campus.
Starting at age 12, Amado volunteered with Integrative Touch, a nonprofit from her hometown of Tucson, Arizona, that supports families with children who have significant health issues. Throughout her middle and high school years, Amado was a volunteer/buddy to the kids, either during weeklong retreats or other activities.
“I loved being with the kids, especially during their art and music therapies, and from that experience, I knew I wanted to do something in health care,” she said.
But when Amado moved away to start at TCU, those times together ended.
Until the pandemic.
When stay-at-home orders made it impossible for Integrative Touch volunteers to be with the children, the organization turned to Zoom, allowing virtual face time. Amado, who only learned about this option in January, signed up. She now looks forward to weekly calls with her 14-year-old buddy. Together, but online, they draw, play games and talk about their week – anything to lift the spirits of the teen.
The rewards go both ways.
“A little bit of involvement goes a long way for the kids and for me as well,” Amado said. “From the first healing retreat when I was in middle school, I found great emotional lift. Now, I look forward to this hour every Tuesday.”
The sessions last for 10 weeks.
Kathy Baker, professor and director of nursing scholarship and research, is proud of her student’s engagement.
“While I can see Molly is gaining important insights that will benefit her nursing practice, her motivation is just to give to a child who needs support and a trustworthy mentor,” Baker said. “Molly is a great reflection on TCU Nursing and demonstrates a commitment to putting others first. She will be totally at home in a discipline that strives to always put the patient and their family first.”
Amado agrees that volunteering helps her to put into practice what she’s learning in the classroom and clinical time, especially when it comes to communication.
“It’s given me a holistic view,” she said.
Together, her experience and the technologies that allow online connecting will be helpful in a world where “telewellness” is becoming a norm – a side effect of the pandemic, but one that sometimes has a silver lining.