Pharmacy Students Work with Interfaith Compassion Ministry to Assist Local Citizens



Suzanne Wilkin (third from left), board member for Interfaith Compassion Ministry, accepts a check from Jessica Gibbs (left), Jon Jackson and Ronald Kim. UM photo by Dabney Weems.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Pharmacy
Student Body is teaming up with Interfaith Compassion
Ministry in Lafayette County to make a difference in the
lives of others.


ICM is a nonprofit organization that provides financial and
referral assistance to needy residents in the county. The
two groups came together when ICM board member Suzanne
Wilkin realized that a number of clients needed assistance
paying for their medications. She knew of programs, such as
Partnership for Prescription Assistance, that help patients
pay for prescription medications but did not know how to go
about getting help for the clients.

She contacted Sandra Bentley, director of UM’s Student
Health Center Pharmacy, to see if students on rotation
could assist ICM. The two groups worked together to develop
a system to help ICM clients receive their medications at
little to no cost.

“Students will meet with a client and go over their
medication history and what medicines they need,” Wilkin
said. “The P6 students then go back to the pharmacy and
research what kinds of discounts are available through the
pharmaceutical companies and what the requirements are to
apply for assistance. The students then work with the
client and their physician to fill out the necessary forms,
then it all goes in the mail and usually within six to
eight weeks, the clients get their medication in the mail.”

Besides the financial benefits for the clients, the
pharmacy students themselves are receiving invaluable
real-life training, according to Bentley.

“I wanted the students to be exposed to the programs
available to low-income and uninsured patients,” Bentley
said. “The feedback I get from the students has overwhelmed
me. It seems the students are more understanding of the
patients. They seem to empathize more.”

For some students, the experience has been eye-opening.

“I think every pharmacy student should work with these
patients and see just how some people have to struggle to
choose whether to use their small incomes to buy food or
medication,” said Kimberly Steinman, a P6 student from
Senatobia. “It made me appreciate my circumstances even
more. Also, it feels good at the end of the day to know
that you have helped someone.”

Besides helping as pharmacists-in-training, the pharmacy
student body also sponsored the ICM as their philanthropy
project for the year.

“We were looking for a way to create a lasting legacy at
Ole Miss,” said Jon Jackson, president of the Pharmacy
Student Body. “Around that same time, Dr. (Marvin) Wilson
heard about an opportunity to help the ICM. The P6 students
were already working with the ICM, so it seemed like a good
fit for the student body to support the ICM financially as

The pharmacy student body has already donated $3,000 to the
ICM this year. The funds are to help provide medications
for those who do not qualify for PPA and to help pay for
physician visits, Wilkin said.

The help from the students provides an all-around better
life for the clients. Wilkin recalls a client who suffered
from seizures, lupus, anxiety, depression and diabetes but
was able to take medications only when a physician provided
samples. The pharmacy students helped the client obtain the
medications regularly at little to no cost. Through the
pharmacy student body’s financial support, the client is
able to pay for visits to a neurologist and is doing much
better, Wilkin said.

The pharmacy students are also focusing fundraising efforts
to help the ICM. Besides collecting donations, they are
selling red polo shirts embroidered with the pharmacy
school’s logo. The shirts are $55.95, with all profits
benefiting the ICM.

“It is hard to put into words what the students have done
for some of our clients,” Wilkin said. “Literally, some
people would not have their medicine at all if it had not
been for the students. This program has really helped to
improve people’s lives and in some cases, I believe, saved

To purchase a shirt, contact Jackson at For more information about the ICM,
call 662-281-1002.