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Matthew Cali

I volunteered for Hospice when I was at U. T. Tyler completing my undergraduate work, and I am now a student at U. T. Southwestern medical school.

Being with people at the end of their lives taught me some important lessons. One is the value of presence… just being there can be comforting and soothing, maybe as good a medicine as you can give.

The other lesson I learned is not to take any moment for granted. Two of my Hospice patients I only visited one time. It didn’t occur to me that that would be the only time, and it taught me that we should always take every encounter as if it might be the last one. That’s true of hospice work and it’s true of life in general.

I’ve taken those lessons into medical school, and I think they will make me a better doctor one day. Hospice work is not sad or a burden. It is rewarding and it can be a pleasure. It's like finishing a book, perhaps bittersweet but priceless nonetheless.