Medical student volunteers at Hospice

It was only when his granny passed away from cancer in October last year, that 2nd year medical student, Jason Vermaak from Verwoerdpark, decided that he wanted to learn more about palliative care and the services a hospice offers.


Jason, currently studying medicine at Wits University, is volunteering at Stepping Stone Hospice in New Market Park. “My studies are focussed primarily on curative care, but with my granny’s illness and her passing, I came to understand that there is a difference between what I am studying and that of palliative care.”

Jason then entered a course in palliative care at the South Rand Hospital during his end-of-year varsity break and met with Sister Sheryl Newman, the sister-in-charge at Stepping Stone Hospice. “She invited me to come and do some volunteering, and here I am,” he explains.

Studying medicine has always been a dream of this dynamic young man. As a former student from St Johns College, he says the dream became reality when his marks proved to be good enough to be accepted as a medical student at Wits. Apart from his voluntary service at hospice, he also volunteers at the Tambo Memorial Hospital in Boksburg in the casualty department.

“At Tambo we work to save lives. There is very little time to get to know your patients on such a personal and compassionate level as I have now experienced at hospice. I now understand that at a hospice the focus of care is aimed at promoting comfort to patients experiencing the impact of life-limiting illness. I also now understand the importance and the huge impact hospice care has on a patient and the families.”

Asked whether he as a young South African has enough faith in South Africa to build a career here once he has qualified, he passionately replies “I’m going no-where. This is where the need is. I am saddened to see how many desperate people in our country are in need of quality medical care and that’s where I want to one day make a difference.”

Young Jason Vermaak here with careworker Amelia Sithole caring for a patient in the In-Patient Unit in New Market Park.

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