Throughout the fall, fourth year pharmacy students led educational classes at Room In The Inn (RITI), a community of participants, guests, volunteers and staff who work together to offer hope to Nashville’s homeless population. RITI serves more than 4,000 individuals each year – some for only a day, while others for months to years.
Dr. Ashton Beggs, faculty member in the College of Pharmacy, teaches fourth year students at United Neighborhood Health Services (UNHS) Mission Clinic. This clinic provides interdisciplinary primary care services to the homeless population of Nashville. Many of the UNHS clinic patients utilize RITI’s programming for a sense of community and as a ladder to get back on their feet.
RITI offers over 3,000 classes annually, covering a wide range of subjects including health, spirituality, GED preparation and art. Dr. Beggs’s fourth year students teach a weekly class focusing on primary care topics, such as Vaccine Jeopardy and Diabetes Bingo. Participants earn points for taking classes and can use them to purchase socks, gloves and bus passes.
Pharmacy students Tim Furfaro and Mary Martin Johnson led Vaccine Jeopardy in September. Furfaro said, “It was a great experience to teach these patients about vaccines while having fun at the same time. I think it’s important not just to educate people, but to give them a chance to ask their own questions as well.” Johnson said, “I’m confident we clarified common myths about vaccines and hopefully motivated people to ask their health care provider about receiving vaccines they needed.”
In October, Ashley Stovall and Jessica Brinkley taught Vaccine Bingo. Brinkley said, “By the last class we had so many people show up that we ran out of chairs, bingo cards and game pieces. I would say that Vaccine Bingo was a success, and hopefully we helped to prevent many diseases with our educational efforts!”
In November, students Samantha Wheeler and Christie Saldana facilitated Diabetes Bingo. “It’s interesting to hear how patients have learned about diabetes through the experiences they have had either with family members or friends. Even though we taught people with varying degrees of knowledge, everyone commented on how they learned from our class,” said Wheeler.
Dr. Beggs said, “This is a wonderful opportunity for our pharmacy students to learn about providing health education to patients with low health literacy. The feedback from the participants has been consistently positive- remarking about how they are learning about their health and having fun at the same time.”