Trying out healthcare careers at local hospitals

Students volunteer for three hours every Saturday


courtesy Ella Robinson

Miramonte junior Ella Robinson and sophomore Gabe Meezan gain experience working in the healthcare sector during their volunteer shifts at John Muir Hospital in Walnut Creek.

Junior Ella Robinson puts on her uniform — a blue collared shirt for now — but she dreams of wearing real surgical scrubs in the future. 

As she drives to John Muir Walnut Creek, she considers what she might do today at the hospital. Perhaps she will bring patients flowers from their loved ones, or maybe she will discharge moms and cute newborn babies. Finally arriving at the hospital, she flashes her parking pass to the security guard and pulls into a designated volunteer spot. She can only hope that one day she will instead pull into a staff parking spot.

Concord and Walnut Creek John Muir hospitals offer year-round high school student volunteer programs to a select number of applicants interested in a career in healthcare. Students run errands like discharges and lab runs and assist hospital staff with any additional work. According to, their work is intended to build “key skills such as administration, patient interaction, communication, organization, and leadership” in a hospital setting.

“The John Muir student volunteering is something super cool that only a limited number of Bay Area kids can do,” Miramonte junior and student volunteer Robinson said. “This program gives us an insight into what a hospital is like. We see first-hand how it is run. One of my favorite runs is bringing flowers up to a patient’s room — seeing how happy they are to receive flowers from their friends and families when visitors are not allowed. I also enjoy discharging moms and babies. Seeing the cute babies and talking with parents is so fun! This inspires me since I want to work in Mother-Baby when I am older,” Robinson said.

Robinson, junior Ruby Martin-Gulutzan, and sophomore Gabe Meezan are the three Miramonte students who currently participate in the Walnut Creek program. These students volunteer for three hours every Saturday and plan to continue their work until graduation. 

To apply, students are instructed to contact their school’s career development office, where they are screened and assessed. The program is offered to 14 East Bay high schools, including all four Acalanes Union High School District schools. Students who apply must be at least 14-and-a-half years old, second-semester freshmen, and have above a grade point average of at least 3.0. Students have priority in application acceptance if their parents are on the hospital staff.

“The program gives students who are interested in a healthcare setting or in hospital work experience in these fields. I always look forward to my shift because I know I will learn something new and that I am making a small difference in people’s lives,” Miramonte student volunteer Martin-Gulutzan said.

While the program is highly selective and a time consuming commitment, junior Addison Owensby, the founder of the Miramonte Pre-Health/Medicine Club, believes that programs like these are helpful for students. “Programs like John Muir student volunteering are super beneficial because they give high school students hands-on experiences and can give insight to students whether they enjoy the career path or not,” Owensby said. 

Many students leave high school with no idea of what they want to do in the future, but this program gives students direct exposure to careers in healthcare. The skills learned while volunteering at John Muir remain pertinent post-graduation as well. 

“Volunteering has greatly improved my ability to perform in stressful situations. Oftentimes I had to multitask and figure out which volunteers needed help. Volunteering also made me a much better communicator,” class of 2020 graduate and former volunteer Nick Acevedo said.

Robinson begins her shift by checking in visitors to the orthopedic wing of the hospital and finishes her shift with several lab runs. As she walks back to the parking lot, she passes a doctor in a white coat, hoping that one day she can don the same garb.