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A Good Antidote for Burnout

This National Volunteer Month we're taking time to let others know why our great ministry volunteers do what they do and are encouraging others to join them. For more information about how to volunteer at any of the programs we support, check out the information at the bottom of the page.

Without volunteers, St. Mary’s Health Clinics (SMHC) could not function. From physicians to nurses, interpreters and administration staff, volunteers ensure that quality and necessary healthcare is accessible to those who cannot afford health insurance or access government programs. St. Mary’s Health Clinics’ volunteers make it possible for underserved community members in and around the Twin Cities get the healthcare they deserve. Dave Dvorak is one of those volunteers.

Dave first learned about SMHC seven years ago from a co-worker. A clinic where he had volunteered had recently shut down; and in-between his shifts as an emergency room physician, he was looking for a new place to be helpful. When he first researched SMHC he was hesitant about making a commitment because he had only worked in emergency medicine and never in long-term care. He wasn’t sure if his skills would translate, but his hesitancy was unwarranted.

“There’s a lot of support and you know that someone from St. Mary’s will call the patient the next day to make sure they understand the plan and see if they have any questions,” he says. “The staff at St. Mary’s truly cares about their patients and does everything they can to make sure they’re taken care of.”

As an emergency room physician, Dave was not accustomed to seeing the same patient multiple times in the same year. “I’ve loved getting to know the patients and having the time to get to know them and their families. You don’t see that nowadays in modern medicine.”

St. Mary’s Health Clinics relies on grants and funding from supporters. It doesn’t bill through insurance companies, and so the physicians who volunteer at SMHC don’t have to worry about satisfying health insurance criteria. Much of Dave’s work in emergency medicine had transitioned to administrative paperwork, and it had taken away him from the time he could spend with patients. He cites the administrative aspect of present-day medicine as one of the reasons he felt burnt out at the end of his career. “St. Mary’s is a good antidote for burnout. It takes you back to why you went into medicine and gets back to the basics, to the essence of why we’re all supposed to be doing it,” he says. Plus, he loves being able to help St. Mary’s patients take control of their health and get the care they need.

Volunteering at St. Mary’s Health Clinics means joining a team of highly dedicated and caring individuals working to make sure healthcare is accessible to everyone, no matter what. It’s getting to know the patients and their families and making a positive impact on the lives of people in our communities who cannot access care anywhere else. For Dave, being a volunteer constantly reminds him why he went into medicine in the first place – to help people.

Want to support people in your community on a weekly or monthly basis? St. Mary’s Health Clinics is always looking for more volunteers. Visit on the St. Mary’s Health Clinics website and get involved today.

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