Pharmacy student ends studies where he began—at VIM

When Ben Jaques returned to Volunteers In Medicine this year, it was “To finish where I started,” he says.

Ben is one of the Pharmacy doctorate students this year who did a rotation at VIM to fulfill his degree requirement. In Ben’s case, VIM was his last stop, his final step in a journey that started with VIM as a volunteer window technician in the dispensary as an undergraduate and ended with a rotation at VIM to complete his doctoral degree.

Pharmacy students, who study for up to seven years, do rotations in the community to complete their program, says Carmen Admire, dispensary and Patient Assistance Program manager at VIM, and VIM is one location that meets the requirement for working with an underserved population.

Ben started at VIM when he was an undergraduate student studying human physiology.

“One of my friends was a volunteer here. He was on his way out, and a position was opening in dispensary,” Ben says. “I took over his spot.”

Ben originally didn’t know what career he wanted to pursue as an undergrad, but a family friend who was a pharmacist told him about the profession, and his volunteer experience at VIM helped him solidify his choice to study pharmacy.

“The more I did it at VIM, the more I liked it,” Ben says.

Ben stayed almost two years his first go around as a dispensary volunteer, and the experience was a boost for his application to graduate school.

“VIM helped my resume to get into the program,” Ben says. “It strengthened my resume and helped give me applicable knowledge. Before you get into pharmacy school, you have to start the process of getting to know things.”

Carmen says the older students like Ben who are wonderful mentors for the pre-pharmaceutical students and other volunteers, but they also are especially helpful in counseling for complicated medication mixes, such as with diabetic patients.

“Diabetics often need more counseling,” Carmen says. “Insulins can deactivate if not mixed right, and there are other issues.”

Interns offer an opportunity to spend more time with patients. In one case, Ben was able to take a half hour with a patient, counseling him and printing useful information off the Internet to take home.

“The interns are a big help,” Carmen says. “So even if we’re busy, I can say, ‘Why don’t you take the patient in the counseling room.’”

With the interns, “we definitely get to take more time with the patients,” Carmen says.