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KNOXVILLE — Many UT Vols give their time to various volunteer efforts, but few would give up a real job to be a volunteer.

Deen Alam, a senior majoring in psychology with a concentration in neuroscience and biological psychology, was offered a job at Parkwest Medical Center and declined to continue volunteering. He said he values the flexibility of his time as a volunteer and wants to stick to his plans to become a successful doctor.

“After Deen had worked for a while in our Joint Replacement Center, the manager called and asked if I thought Deen would be interested in working as a paid staff member in their area,” said Becky Boyd, Parkwest volunteer coordinator. “They were so impressed with Deen they wanted to hire him. However, he remains a volunteer, donating his service time rather than being paid for his work — all part of his plan.”

Alam’s plan goes beyond simply graduating and hoping to find a job. Boyd said, in his interview to be a volunteer, he outlined specific plans for reaching his goal of becoming a doctor.

“During the interview/orientation process with Deen, he indicated to me that he would be a doctor — not that he wanted to be a doctor, but that he would be a doctor,” Boyd said. “My first impression of Deen was that he was extremely focused. Our meeting left me with no doubt that he would be a doctor someday.”

While volunteering in the Joint Replacement Center, Alam gains useful knowledge on patient care and joint exercise. He’s been volunteering at Parkwest for two and a half years.

“I volunteer at Parkwest because it’s not like many other hospitals,” Alam said. “It doesn’t have that hospital feel. A lot of people volunteer at UT Medical Center, but here I’ve gotten to know physicians and now I really understand patient care. Everyone is friendly and they take pride in their work.”

Alam’s responsibilities usually include setting up the exercise room, coaching patients during exercises and distributing newsletters.

“The most important thing to me is learning how to handle patients in the most trying times in their lives,” Alam said. “Especially with surgery, they need someone to lean on and you have to be there when they need you.”

Alam also has done volunteer work in his homeland of Bangladesh. For a few summers, he helped his uncle distribute clean water to villages.

“My uncle created a device to take the arsenic out of drinking water,” Alam said. “I helped to pass out water to anyone and everyone. It was really inspiring work.”

Alam soon will begin applying to medical school and hopes his time at Parkwest will help him reach his goals and influence lives.

“Originally when I volunteered, I did it as a requirement for medical school,” Alam said. “After I fulfilled that, I kept doing it because I enjoyed it. I am able to make somewhat of an impact on patients. The patient interaction I get will help me in the future.”

C O N T A C T :

Becky Boyd (865-373-1556,

Bridget Hardy (865-974-2225,