When Kellie Clelland move to Memphis, Tennessee, in 2017, she immediately applied to be a volunteer at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. She volunteers in the Simulation Center as an actor and regularly donates platelets.
Clelland, a retired information technology specialist, wanted to use her free time to give back to the community.
“The mission of St. Jude speaks for itself,” she said. “When I saw the new Simulation Center was accepting volunteers, I knew it was a perfect fit for my interests and background. I spent my career providing technical support to medical professionals, and this hands-on support was an exciting opportunity.”
During a typical shift, medical staff are trained in dynamic medical scenarios using high-tech patient simulators—mannequins that provide immediate feedback and react to treatment in real time. The medical staff monitors vital signs, administers medicine and interacts with the patient simulator. Throughout the training scenario, Clelland acts as a patient caregiver--asking questions, sharing anxieties and needing reassurance.
The simulation offers training in many aspects of patient care and allows staff to prepare to handle frenzied situations in real life.
“For me, it is hectic, stressful as an actor, and fun,” Clelland said. “Being an actor is out of my comfort zone, which makes it more exciting. It is amazing to watch the medical professionals reach and save lives – even if it just a simulation. I am in awe watching the scenario play out.”
Clelland says she hopes her role challenges medical staff during training scenarios so they are better prepared to reassure and comfort family members during stressful situations.
“I respectfully call the Simulation Center ‘controlled chaos by design,’” she said. “The scenarios are organized to stretch and teach medical staff. I did not expect to learn so much from the educators and trainees. It is such a positive learning experience.”
Platelet donation has become an important part of Clelland’s service to St. Jude.
“The Blood Donation Center staff makes donating a positive experience by keeping me as warm and comfortable as possible,” she said. “I encourage everyone to donate platelets; you will enjoy the company.”
When she is not at St. Jude or working part-time as a business development consultant, Clelland enjoys hiking and stand-up paddle boarding. She also trains to participate in the St. Jude Half Marathon.