July 25, 2005 | Like many visitors to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), Andre Davis stepped through Ward Tower’s main doors and realized he wasn’t sure which way to walk.
To Davis’ relief on this recent July morning, two friendly student volunteers stood waiting inside to help him navigate the mammoth hospital campus.
Reading each visitor’s body language, Kiaya McCumpsey, 15, and Evan Clayton, 13, made eye contact with likely candidates and asked: “Do you need help finding anything?”
Kiaya and Evan are among 16 student volunteers participating this summer in UAMS’ fledgling Wayfinders program. To prepare the students, they had to complete a scavenger hunt that took them to 13 UAMS locations. McCumpsey and Clayton said they spent a lot of time reading UAMS’ direction signs but still managed to get lost a time or two.
After familiarizing themselves with the UAMS campus, the students were stationed near an information desk to be available for questions, and when directions given at the desk were complex, to escort the visitor. They also intercepted those who were lost but who were unwilling or shy about seeking help at the desk.
“The student program will give us good information to work with as we develop plans for a year-round campaign to help people find their way around“ said Gloria Wright, new UAMS Medical Center director of volunteers. “The plans include phasing in adult volunteers when the students are gone at the end of the summer.” Just as significant, campus leaders want to encourage all UAMS’ employees to help in the effort.
“Hopefully having the students out there will raise awareness that we all can help people,” said Janet Lynn, UAMS director of patient coordination.
Lynn said employees may not have every answer, but they can always go to the information desk as well.
“I don’t think people that come here expect us to know everything, but they expect us to be nice and to try our best to get them good directions,” Lynn said.