Andrew Dang’s internship is more than just fun and games. A Pediatric Team Ambassador at Hennepin County Medical Center’s (HCMC) Pediatric Inpatient Unit, he observes some of the most challenging child-related medical cases in the Twin Cities metro. While some may struggle with these intense cases, playing a game with a patient or getting out coloring books and crayons takes on a much bigger meaning for the biology major.
“I just love taking kids and parents mind off of what they’re worrying about,” says Dang. “When you can bring enough happiness to draw out a smile in such a difficult setting and time, it is completely worth all the crying babies that you encounter.”
As a team ambassador, Dang helps make sure patients’ and families’ stay is as enjoyable as it can be. He plays with the children, grabs supplies or does small errands for the nursing staff, and helps everyone feel at ease. An aspiring pediatric physician, Dang sees how volunteering in this role has already prepared him in unique ways for his future career.
“Working one on one with these children who are going through really challenging times helps build my empathy and that connection that I want to have with my patients in the future,” says Dang.
Dang first realized he wanted to go into pediatric medicine while in high school where he tutored, mentored middle school students and worked as a babysitter. Through these opportunities, he realized that he enjoys working with kids
“I really love to mentor people,” says Dang. “In some ways I feel like that’s similar to pediatrics in that you have patients who may not know everything about their situation and you work to help them feel better and learn more about their health.”
While garnering this experience and knowledge about his future career, Dang’s time at HCMC also changed his mindset about volunteering and work.
“Once you find a career area that you really are passionate about, it really will click and volunteering changes from a chore to something you absolutely love to do,” says Dang.
– Lance Janssen