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Volunteering - a healthcare professional's story

 

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If you are a healthcare professional or in training, these events offer an invaluable, all expenses paid opportunity to gain experience of diabetes outside a clinical setting.

 

Below, you can read a questions and answer interview with Sean Petett (pictured above), a paediatric diabetes specialist nurse, long-term volunteer senior nurse on family events and event organiser for a Diabetes UK children and young people’s event.

Why did you begin volunteering on Diabetes UK Type 1 Events?

I first found out about Diabetes UK Type 1 Events 25 years ago, when I was a student nurse. They were suggested to me by a diabetes specialist nurse as an amazing opportunity to learn more about diabetes and supporting children with diabetes...how right she was!

I began volunteering to learn more about diabetes in childhood. Over the years, my knowledge and insight has grown at every single event.

I was inspired to pursue a career as a Paediatric Diabetes Specialist Nurse with this insight on board and knowing the difference I could make to both young people and their families.

Did you feel well supported in your volunteering?

I remember being very apprehensive before my first event, wondering what would be expected of me. All the volunteers were totally supportive and the mix of experience in the team made it a totally enlightening experience.

Since then I’ve had no concerns in the run up to the events as I know how much preparation goes into each event, not only to provide an invaluable experience for the children and families, but also to ensure that all volunteers are fully supported. The training offered is very useful and I feel it fully prepares the team for the event.

Has volunteering helped you in your career?

When applying for a post in the sphere of paediatric diabetes, my experience and involvement in volunteering with Diabetes UK has never failed to impress interviewers and always stimulates opportunities to give myself the ‘hard sell’.

It’s always good to have evidence that I am prepared to go the extra mile and don’t see a PDSN post as ‘just a wage’, a trump card when being interviewed against other strong candidates.

What do you feel you’ve gained from volunteering?

I find these events to be a huge learning resource, which I believe helps me to function at a much higher level as a PDSN and enhances the support I am able to offer. Spending this time with children, young people and their families gives me the opportunity to see things from ‘the other side’, an invaluable asset when empathising with and addressing issues with my own caseload. 

I find that when delivering care, I have a great deal more credibility with children and their families for knowing and understanding where they are coming from. This is something that you can’t get from any text book.

Has volunteering changed the way you work?

I feel very lucky to have the experience and added credibility gained from volunteering on the Type 1 Events. It’s difficult to say whether volunteering has changed my approach to my day-to-day job, as my career and volunteering evolved hand in hand.

But I do feel that this has, in many ways, moulded my approach into what I believe is an ideal one, one which I have endeavoured to encourage colleagues in the same area to adopt. I will, without a doubt, continue to volunteer again and again.

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