Marisa Bentheimer, a fourth year pharmacy student at Belmont University, is a student leader both on campus and in the community. She has dedicated herself to actively working to serve others, working with high school students interested in pharmacy, participating in collecting Christmas gifts for the underserved, and in preparing herself and others as temporary volunteers in missions and public health initiatives. While a student at Belmont, she became involved with Operation Christmas Child, and has helped us establish the collection of gift boxes for others as an annual tradition.
In addition, Ms. Bentheimer has been a strong advocate for pharmacy and pharmacy issues as a student organization leader and as a representative who has actively educated and encouraged legislators regarding pharmacy issues on a local, regional and national basis - not once but many times.
Working in a local community pharmacy through my pharmacy education I saw the barriers to health care patients faced on a daily basis. In my 'Health Care Delivery' class at Belmont I learned that 94 of the 95 counties in Tennessee are considered medically under-served; that is, they do not have access to many personal health care services. In 2015 and 2016 I was chosen to attend an event in Washington D.C. where pharmacy students and pharmacists gathered to meet with Tennessee congress members in support of the "Pharmacy and Medically Under-served Areas Enhancement Act" a bill which would help pharmacists enhance patient care and accessibility to these areas. Upon returning, I felt that the best way to get these patients care was through education for both the community and future pharmacists. After my first visit, as president of the National Community Pharmacists Association I organized a visit to a local high school where we discussed the importance of STEM undergraduate degrees, pharmacy as a career, and conducted an interactive pharmacy-compounding lab. I also led a discussion with first-year pharmacy students about my experiences stressing the importance of being active in policy and advocating for your profession and your patients.