Alyssa Ragno, CHOP Bedside Buddy

Alyssa Ragno, a senior biology major from South Plainfield, New Jersey, is a “Bedside Buddy” at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). Shortly after her freshman year, Alyssa applied to CHOP’s Way Finding program, was accepted, and eventually moved up to her current position by the age of 22.

Alyssa came to campus with a dream of going to med school. Back in her hometown she never had the opportunity to work or volunteer in a hospital. As a member of the Way Finding program at CHOP, Alyssa was trained to escort patients and families around the hospital. It wasn’t long before she moved up to being a Bedside Buddy.

As a Buddy, Alyssa provides companionship, fun, and much laughter to patients. To hospital staff and administration Alyssa’s teal shirt tells the patients that she is there for non-clinical practices. But to the children at CHOP, the teal shirt indicates that they have a friend to play with. Some of Alyssa’s favorite activities include coloring, visiting the playroom, and watching Frozen with the kids.

Alyssa has volunteered three hours every week for the last two years (even while on co-op!) as a Bedside Buddy. “The best part about being a Bedside Buddy is seeing the strength that these little kids have. It really puts into perspective the problems I complain about when these kids have real reasons to complain and don’t. They just keep smiling, it’s contagious,” she said. Alyssa also said that going to CHOP really helps her forget about the pressures and stress of school and do something she enjoys.

As far as volunteer programs go, Alyssa highly recommends the Bedside Buddy program for all students and majors. “Playing with kids at CHOP is a total mood booster, a ton of fun, and a great way to give back in our University City community,” she said.

Besides being a kick-butt Bedside Buddy, Alyssa loves to read, travel, and occasionally snuggle up with her 12-year-old cat, Phoenix. Alyssa also participated in a study abroad program this past fall. She spent 10 days in Crete, Greece, studying the local culture and art. Alyssa is well known by friends as “the crafty one” who always gives the best advice. She love reading and beaching in the summer—you can always find her on the Jersey Beaches reading chick lit to relax.

What started as volunteer work for a future in med school has now become apart of Alyssa’s weekly routine. Visiting CHOP and being a source of fun to the sick children is important to Alyssa. When asked how working at CHOP has influenced her career path, Alyssa said that working with the kids has reinforced her dream of going to med school. Alyssa would love the opportunity to enter into the pediatric field after graduation from med school, so she can continue doing what she loves.