I was extremely fortunate to be able to return to RAM for the second year this past July. As a fourth-year student, it can be difficult to take time off of rotations, and as luck would have it my off rotation coincided with the RAM event. I am equally as fortunate that the team agreed to take me again as there is limited space and many interested and qualified students who apply to be a part of the VCU Pharmacy team.
RAM has given me the opportunity to use my love of pharmacy in combination with my need to serve others. I am very happy that the VCU School of Pharmacy continues to support student involvement in community outreach. Our group of students, residents, and faculty associated with VCU worked as a cohesive team to deliver compassionate, patient-centered care to the truly deserving people in Southwest Virginia.
I am continually amazed at the number and variety of health professionals and volunteers who join together at the RAM event. It is an organizational feat that I am sure is only possible because each and every person involved in RAM acts selflessly in order to further the vision and mission of RAM.
The nature of remote area medical missions gives students the opportunity to learn hands-on skills that they will take with them long after school. In addition to gaining pharmacy-related knowledge, participation in service events teaches students about themselves and the kind of pharmacist they want to be. Pharmacy practice is and should always be firmly rooted in service to others regardless of the setting. By ensuring the opportunity for pharmacy students to participate in service to others, we are furthering the practice and scope of the profession of pharmacy.
As always, I was personally moved by my interactions with people of Southwest Virginia. Every single individual I spoke with was kind and appreciative, even if they were exhausted by the “hurry up and wait” pace that is unavoidable when there are more patients than providers.
One encounter with a mother of two and grandmother to three especially touched my heart. I was testing her A1C while we discussed her concern over not seeing a doctor for over four years. I told her that she had made the right decision to come to RAM and, no matter the results, it’s best to know so we can take action.
After she found out she was pre-diabetic, she became emotional, but we spoke about her motivation to make changes and take care of herself. She spoke of her grandchildren and how she was ultimately glad that she came so that she can overcome the health issues she had been avoiding for so long.
When our conversation came to an end, I walked her out of the station and she turned to me with tears in her eyes and gave me a warm, sincere hug. There aren’t words to describe the feeling of truly helping another.