The youth ambassadors program at Texas
County Memorial Hospital has been active for only one month, but
the 44 ambassadors involved have contributed more than 282 hours of
The youth ambassadors program, which began
Dec. 9, was dreamed up by Toni McKinney, registration director at
TCMH and the liaison with the TCMH Auxiliary.
“There is a tremendous need for area youth
to obtain training in healthcare and to return to their communities
to work in healthcare,” McKinney said.
McKinney works with the youth ambassadors
to do hospital volunteer work in many departments, especially those
that provide direct patient care such as the obstetrics and medical
The TCMH youth ambassadors include young
adults from Texas County and Mountain Grove, and the program is
limited to area college students and high school juniors and
seniors. Members of the current program were selected through an
Wes Murray, chief executive officer at
TCMH, is glad to see that the ambassadors have a large interest and
high energy level for the program.
“I have noticed that the students involved
in this program have respect for healthcare and have a respectful
disposition about the work they do in the hospital,” Murray
Victoria Thompson of Mountain Grove has
seen two babies delivered since volunteering at TCMH.
“I can definitely see myself working in the
medical field,” she said.
Lilly Neal of Licking explained that
volunteering at TCMH has “finalized my decision to pursue a career
In the hospital’s obstetrics’ department,
youth ambassadors rock babies, greet patients and visitors, answer
the phone, take messages, respond to call lights and check on
patients to provide water or juice.
“My staff loves them,” said Belynda Boyd,
obstetrics director. “They help us take care of the little things
that make a patient’s experience even more special.”
Ambassadors typically volunteer in the late
afternoon and evening during the week and throughout the day and
early evening on Saturday and Sunday.
Boyd and Krista Elliott, medical surgical
department director, have had a volunteer from the program in their
department almost every day since the youth began volunteering.
In the hospital’s medical surgical
department, the volunteers pass out ice and linens, round on the
patients to see if there are any special needs and simply sit and
talk with the patients.
“The youth ambassadors are a great help to
the nurses and to the patients,” Elliott said.
“mso-spacerun: yes;”>“We really miss them when they are
Murray said the group was the workforce of
tomorrow. He noted that TCMH is one of the largest employers in
“All forecasts point toward growth in the
healthcare field, and when combined with the challenge of getting
good healthcare employees and keeping them working in a rural area
means that we have a great opportunity to bring students into our
workplace while they are still thinking about future careers,”
Murray said. “Today’s youth are thinking about careers, and this
helps provide some guidance for them.”
Murray believes that many of the
ambassadors are receiving their first education about what goes on
behind the doors of their county hospital.
“Many people never fully realize what we do
here on a daily basis,” he said.
Samantha Jones of Houston said that she
“didn’t want to leave” after doing her volunteer time as a youth
Murray and McKinney agree that the youth
ambassadors are able to provide more services to the hospital
departments and to patients than fully imagined at the beginning of
“We are just now beginning to appreciate
how much help we can get from these students,” Murray said.
All volunteers went through an orientation
and committed to volunteering at TCMH for four hours each month
upon acceptance to the program. The program includes three levels
of volunteer achievement – healthcare survivor, TCMH idol and
amazing ambassador-and the levels can be achieved based on
volunteer hours and work ethic.
For additional information about the
program, McKinney can be reached at
“mso-spacerun: yes;”>417-967-1346 or 866-967-3311, ext.
346, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.