Long-time Volunteer Stresses Medical Advancements

By: Shannon Sarino, National Museum of Health and Medicine

Regina Hunt has been a volunteer docent at the National Museum of Health and Medicine since 1985.

"I've always worked in the medical field," she said. "I was given a tour of the museum at [its former location on] Walter Reed…when I visited, someone said something about volunteering. I've always had an interest in history and I know the medical field, so I thought 'why not?' I still call it 'my museum' when I talk to others."

Hunt, a licensed tour guide, was the public affairs officer for the Naval Medical Research Center in the 1960s. She said she loves to tell the NMHM story, and teaching others about the history of medicine.

"I love teaching the school kids…anyone, really," she said. "I try to make connections to things – to explain why the museum was established in the first place, and why it's still important. "

Volunteer docents provide education and interpretive support for NMHM's programming. Docents support tours, outreach and family programs. Through NMHM's educational programs, the museum inspires and promotes interest in the understanding of medicine—past, present and future—with a special emphasis on American military medicine. With a vast collection of more than 25 million objects and a diversity of visitors, volunteers at NMHM are provided with a unique and rewarding experience.

"Regina is a keystone to the volunteer program and institution," said Gwen Nelmes, NMHM tour program coordinator. "Her dedication, knowledge and experience make her an invaluable member and resource."

And it is that experience and dedication that keeps her giving tours and educating children.

"My favorite collection is the Civil War collection, and the related material on bacteria and prosthetics. This is a period of time when a lot of medical advancement took place, and I try to get the kids interested in that," she said. "When they walk away, I hope they have an appreciation of medicine and the advancements that have been made, because there was a time when we did not have the technology we do today."

If you are interested in military medicine, history, medical science and have a general love of museums, join NMHM as a volunteer docent! Candidates must be at least 21 years of age and have a flexible schedule.


Caption: Volunteer docent Regina Hunt poses with the Civil War Medicine Discovery Cart at the National Museum of Health and Medicine, in Silver Spring, Maryland.
(Disclosure: This image has been cropped to emphasize the subject.) (National Museum of Health and Medicine photo by Matthew Breitbart / Released)