From volunteer to professional—via VIM

The name tag clipped to her shirt says, “PA-S,” short for “physician assistant-student.” Only eight months, and several more rotations in other health care settings, and then Marie Meyers finishes her graduate program and joins a practice in her new field.

For those at VIM who know her, Marie has made a well-earned leap from her previous role, when the name tag said only “volunteer.” That’s the one Marie first pinned to her shirt almost eight years ago, as a high school student. Marie was 16 when she started volunteering at VIM.

For many teenagers like Marie, the organized, specific positions VIM provides volunteers, and the clearly defined supervisory roles of both staff and volunteering medical professionals, has earned VIM formal agreements with many schools. At the clinic, high school and college students acquaint themselves with the professions of the health care industry, often earning credit, and are mentored by licensed professionals in graduate level internships for physician assistants, behavioral health counselors and social workers.

VIM executive director DeLeesa Meashintubby remembers when Marie first arrived at VIM. She was a home-schooled high school student from Harrisburg.

“Marie was professional, quiet, and had a welcoming disposition,” DeLeesa says. “She was very good with the patients, and was able to anticipate the next move. I think Marie will be a good addition to any organization that is lucky enough to hire her.”

A local practice will have that opportunity after Marie completes her clinical rotations (including one more seven-week stint at VIM in behavioral health) and final tests and receives her degree in August.

Marie says, as a teenager, she picked her profession because of VIM.

“I don’t know without VIM if I would have gone into health care, but I knew pretty early on after I started volunteering here,” Marie says. “VIM has given me every opportunity, every step of the way to experience health care, all the different roles and different interactions between people in the office. I got to see the difference that health care providers are able to make in the life of a patient.”

But this time around, Marie says her return to VIM feels brand-new.

“I feel like I’m a completely different person. When I walked in the VIM doors when I volunteered at 16, I was a greeter,” she says. “And now to walk in as a PA and say, ‘Hi, I’m Marie, and what can I help you with today?’ It’s just incredible.”