From student volunteer to doctor via Mexico: Dr Jay’s journey

A junior doctor at the West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (WSFT) says volunteering at the Trust eight years ago has helped shape his medical career.

Dr Jay Aldous started volunteering at the West Suffolk Hospital, in Bury St Edmunds, when he was at sixth form, aged 17. Volunteering gave Jay his first taste of working in a hospital ward, including the very busy cardiac ward.

The 25-year-old, who is from Thetford, says that he really didn’t know what job he wanted to do: “I started looking into healthcare and I thought I might find out more about life as a healthcare professional. Becoming a doctor was a possibility but I wasn’t quite sure, so volunteering at the hospital was a great opportunity for me to learn more.”

After volunteering at West Suffolk, it was safe to say that Jay was hooked on a career in healthcare. However, this wasn’t the end of his journey at the Trust as he soon was employed by the hospital to work in the busy housekeeping department. This was another learning experience for the future doctor: “I worked in the office but also out in the wards cleaning. It gave me a great idea of how the hospital worked. I was able to see how all the different roles in the hospital all came together to work as one giant team.”

During medical school, Dr Aldous was able to practice medicine in Guadalajara, Mexico: “It was such an eye-opener, seeing the vast difference between the hospitals in Mexico and the NHS here,” he says. “We are so lucky to have it.” This included helping deliver a baby girl, Jennifer, which he is extremely proud of.

Jay loved practicing so much that during his training, he was able to teach medicine to student doctors and as well as going on to be elected the president of the University of East Anglia’s branch of Sexpression: a UK charity that empowers young people to make decisions about relationships and sex.

Now Jay is six months into his first year as a FY1 (foundation year 1) junior doctor and has once again found himself working at West Suffolk Hospital after graduating from the University of East Anglia in Norwich: “There’s something about West Suffolk Hospital which made me want to come back. This is the hospital that I learned so much at, it’s the place where my family have been treated, and my niece and nephew were born. Everyone here works so hard and they’re so friendly so it was an easy choice for me.”

Val Dutton, voluntary services manager at WSFT remembers Jay’s time as a volunteer very well: “Jay was a fantastic young volunteer and we’re all so proud of what he has accomplished and what he will go on to do in his career.

“We have over 400 volunteers who help our Trust improve our patients’ experience in hospital. We have varied volunteer roles, including helping on the wards and outpatients departments, serving in the Friends shop, wheelchair volunteers or even gardening! So if there’s someone out there who would like to volunteer, we’d love to hear from them.”


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