From refugee camp to a devoted volunteer with a great future

Hibo Abdi volunteer, volunteer, emergency department, medical student, university of minnesota, shadowing

The volunteer program at Hennepin Healthcare is rich with great volunteers doing great things. Hibo Abdi is one of those great volunteers.

Hibo, a senior at the University of Minnesota, is part of the ED PEER Program in Volunteer Services. The ED PEER Program has about 100 volunteers who are assigned to different areas in the emergency department (ED) and work closely with employees, patients, and other volunteers. Hennepin Healthcare’s Level I Trauma Center is the busiest ED in the state, so it is a truly unique assignment.

Hibo has the kind of personality that stands out. ED Nurse Raegan Sipe, who helped develop the ED PEER program, recently gave Hibo feedback from ED nurses who stopped her in the halls to say:

  • “Hibo is the BEST!  She is quiet but so helpful and kind.”
  • “Hibo is humble and hardworking. She is constantly cleaning or helping in some capacity.”
  • “Hibo is simply delightful.”
  • “She never stops moving!”

All new volunteers must complete 32 hours of work serving in the information centers of the building, before moving on to another area. Hibo completed this and more at the Clinic & Specialty Center, and worked on the first-floor entrance, handing visitors and patients masks (mandatory at the time). But what she really liked was helping people who needed a little extra. She explains, “Sometimes someone would come in alone or in a wheelchair and I would escort them to where they needed to be. Some people look anxious or are vision impaired, so I would lend a hand. I once helped a blind woman to get to her appointment. It feels good to know you made a difference”.

After serving in Welcome Services, Hibo began volunteering in the ED. Hibo is pre-med, and planning to become a physician’s assistant (P.A.). The ED is where she would like to end up and could see herself at Hennepin Healthcare. Because of her dedication and relationship building, she got to shadow two P.A.’s, Sara, Kaithlin, and Kendra, in the ED. “It was the best experience I’ve ever had and am so grateful. I learned so much from them. I’ve been in the STAB room and I’ve seen fascinating medical outcomes. I saw a patient come in from a car accident with many broken/fractured ribs. The P.A. I was shadowing made an incision to insert a chest tube. It made an impact”.

“Most of the time in the ED I am talking to patients, asking if they would like a warm blanket and reassuring them. Sometimes I get them crackers or juice (always asking a nurse if it’s ok first). Sometimes I help the families find things or help them with directions. Sometimes I empty the linens. I never sit down!

The employees in the ED are so nice and grateful for the help. I volunteer at another Twin Cities hospital and am a nursing assistant at another one, but I love Hennepin. Employees are so dedicated to their patients. I like volunteering because I feel like I’m giving back”.

Hibo and her family lived in a Somali refugee camp in a rough environment. Hibo, her parents, and her six siblings moved to Minnesota in 2013 when she was 13 years old. “I love my family and don’t know what I would do without them”.

Medicine runs in her family as she has a sister who is a physician and two sisters who are nurses. Once she graduates next May, she will apply to ten schools with P.A. programs. If leaving her family for a while to attend school is necessary, she will do it, but it won’t be easy for her. But all who know her, know she will thrive with that amazing attitude and friendly disposition. Thank you Hibo, for your contributions to Hennepin Healthcare.

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