By: Leyka Rumalla
In retrospect after being a part of Footprints, I can now confidentially say how it has changed my time at UF for the better. Getting into the organization was nothing short of fortunate for me but I never expected it to be one of the biggest contributors to my own personal growth going into it. It has taught me so many invaluable lessons as it has genuinely been such a significant contributing factor towards who I am today. The experiences with the kids on the unit have by itself, been life changing as they taught me how to be a more empathetic and caring person. When you have the job of solely giving someone else happiness, you learn so much about the power that giving has on my own well being and your own success. Knowing that someone is smiling because of me has truly enabled me to understand how someone else’s happiness can ultimately contribute to your own.
Footprints has also inadvertently pushed me towards my career path. Before being on the unit and interacting with the kids, I had perceived being a healthcare provider as just doing that. Providing healthcare in a very linear fashion, a diagnosis and a treatment. This was a misconception that I had been oblivious to later realizing the significance of doing things the exact opposite to what I had thought.
Volunteering in the pediatric ICU taught me that healthcare was not linear at all, it wasn’t a diagnosis or a treatment. The fulfilling part of being in healthcare didn’t come from the physical methods of treatment but the ways in which you connect with a person. It was the ways in which you humanize your patient and give them comfort in a time of stress and fear of the unknown. I wouldn’t have gained that without Footprints because the most gratitude came from people when you made the hospital feel like a safe place. Normalcy is so subjective and personal and it’s that routine and those pockets of fun that really humanize someone. This is hard to find in a healthcare setting and Footprints taught me the importance of restoring normalcy in the four walls of w hospital. I am forever indebted to Footprints, what I learned about being a healthcare provider is something I could never learn in an academic institution. I learned empathy and I learned kindness so I am forever thankful to Shands and the group of people who make up the Footprints family.
Leyka Rumalla is a Senior who joined Footprints Fall 2021 and is majoring in Biochemistry.