Volunteering at the Epilepsy Conference
by Ben Silva
After 34 years of practicing as Registered Professional Nurse in Illinois, I decided to retire four years ago. The area of my clinical expertise was Trauma and Critical Care Nursing albeit the last 20 years was spent in nursing education and nursing management. Upon retirement, I made it one of my personal objectives to be able to perform volunteer work in whatever capacity that is relevant to healthcare in general.
On May 6, 2012, I was afforded the opportunity to do just that. Through a friend, I was able to offer my services to the 2012 Epilepsy Conference sponsored by FACES held at NYU Langone Medical Center.
It was my first volunteer work since retirement - an experience I found rewarding and satisfying. I claim it so because not only did it give me the opportunity to meet healthcare providers from various disciplines who are dedicated and committed to finding a cure for epilepsy and seizure disorders, but also learned from them the latest research studies being conducted in improving the care management of patients with epilepsy and seizure disorders and the most current treatment modalities available to these patients both from a medical and surgical standpoint. Moreover, as I listened to the various presentations throughout the day, it enabled me to increase and broaden not only my knowledge base of the pathophysiology of epilepsy and seizure disorder but also gained a better understanding of the magnitude of its effects on ones psychosociobiological development and associated family dynamics.
More importantly, the Conference allowed me the chance to meet patients and families living with the disorder... being able to witness and hear testimonies from patients and families on how they have coped with the demands of the condition and how a cure was achieved for some. (This, I felt, was the most uplifting experience of all.)
As the event was coming to a close, I could not help but ask myself: What next? What should my next volunteer endeavor be? Overall, this experience of mine has strengthened my desire to be able to bring comfort to those with affliction be it acute or chronic in nature. It also reaffirms my stance of the essence to treat all humans with dignity and respect. Truly, this event was both inspirational and educational. I look forward to being able to offer my services again.