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Volunteer profile: Natalia Tabakman

National Volunteer Week is April 7- 13, a time to celebrate the contributions of millions of volunteers across Canada who generously donate their time and energy to causes dear to their hearts.
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Natalia Tabakman

​Volunteers’ dedication and commitment are keys to our success in providing outstanding patient experiences for families at BC Children’s Hospital and BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre.

​Length of volunteering:
​2010 – 2013
Volunteer roles:
​Navigation & Wayfinding and Child Life, Junior Auxiliary Committee
Current occupation:
​Registered nurse at BC Women’s Hospital

What motivated you to volunteer here?

I have always loved kids and working with them. I started babysitting at a young age and then working as a nanny and camp counselor as I got older. I was also interested in health care and thought that volunteering at the hospital would give me a good introduction and some exposure to the environment.

How would you describe your overall volunteer experience here?

I loved my volunteer experience at BC Women’s and BC Children’s! In fact, I was sad when I had to stop volunteering but it was too difficult to continue once I graduated and was working as a registered nurse. In addition to my role as a volunteer, I was also a member of the Junior Auxiliary Committee (JAC) and really enjoyed having a more proactive role with some projects and fundraisers. 

What did you enjoy most about volunteering here?

Once I started volunteering in the Child Life department, many nurses soon noticed I was good with the babies. I had a lot of experience with young babies and was able to soothe them easily. Soon, I started noticing that whenever I came onto the units the nurses would right away point out any babies that were alone and in need of some cuddles. I cherished the opportunities I had to sit with babies and peacefully rock them to sleep. In those moments, even though they were sick and possibly with little IVs or other tubes attached, I felt like I was giving them a safe little shelter and love.

Please share any of your memorable volunteer experiences.  

One of my most memorable experiences was actually from one of our JAC fundraisers. We were holding a lottery and trying to sell tickets. At the time, there was a local radio station that used to feature local small businesses or charities every Thursday morning on their show. I contacted the radio station and they were happy to feature our fundraiser and I ended up being on the radio for about a minute describing the event. It felt like I was really getting the word out there and making a great contribution to our cause. 

Has your volunteer experience helped or influenced you in your career goals, and if so, how?  

My volunteer experience definitely helped and influenced my career goals. I knew that I liked kids and was interested in health care, but working as a volunteer also showed me the different roles within the hospital. I am the first nurse in my family and I think part of that has to do with the time I spent watching the nurses and learning more about their role in patient care. Lastly, even though I loved kids, the experience also showed me that I gravitated toward babies and influenced my decision to become a nurse at BC Women’s and not BC Children’s.

If you could offer one piece of advice about volunteering to prospective volunteers what would you tell them?

Looking back, I feel grateful that PHSA offered me the opportunity to embark on a progressive journey going from navigation volunteer to a Child Life volunteer and then to a registered nurse. I felt like I was already strongly connected to the hospital and the organization even before I started working here. Going through the halls on my first day as a nurse felt comforting and familiar, like I was meant to be there.

I know that many people, especially young students, use volunteer experience as a resume builder or for course requirements. There are numerous ways our hospital, both BC Women’s and BC Children’s, serve our patients and when you're a volunteer you get more exposure to different clinic areas. Initially, when I first started I was disappointed I had to work at the navigation station and not in Child Life. However, once I started I actually enjoyed having so much knowledge about the hospital and when I eventually became a Child Life volunteer I continued at the navigation station because I liked being able to have various roles. Therefore, my biggest advice would be to encourage volunteers to also see the potential and opportunities that their roles create.

BC Women's Hospital + Health Centre; People in Profile; Volunteer week; Volunteers
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