Volunteers In Medicine maintains relationships with several universities in the region, including University of Oregon, Oregon State University and Pacific University, providing a location where graduate students in psychology, pharmacy and social work gain experience with oversight by certified, licensed professionals in their fields in a clinical setting. The benefits to our patients, VIM and the community are many.
To apply for an internship at VIM, contact Susie Bates at 458-205-6365. She will set up an appointment with you to explore options.
Internship Success Stories
Read just some of the wonderful stories about our hard-working interns who contribute greatly to the special care we give patients at VIM.
Pharmacy student ends studies where he began—at VIM
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.
VIM internship program expands its professional reach
In keeping with a trend toward patient support that meets the needs of the whole patient, Volunteers In Medicine has launched a social work internship program in partnership with Portland State University.
As part of its Youth Recruitment and Training Program, VIM works with several professional programs in pharmacy, counseling, and now social work. Students volunteer at VIM, earning credit and meeting the requirements of their program, with direct supervision and evaluation from certified professionals.
Lori Dunnihoo, a Master of Social Work student, is VIM’s first social work intern, volunteering 16 hours at VIM, and going to class a full day on Friday.
“VIM is a very forward-thinking model, by combining mental health, medical care, and community outreach,” Lori says.
Lori sought out VIM in her last year of school, having interned previously with ShelterCare and SafeHaven.
“There are a lot of things that cause illness — stress, lack of food,” Lori says, or contribute to the exacerbation of medical conditions, including a lack of transportation or storage for medicines.
“There can be ways that patients are living that affect their medical condition,” Lori says. “This position connects people with their community, supporting access to other services that provide” for their other needs.
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.”