SIUE School of Pharmacy Students Educate Thousands of Local Children
First-year (P1) students in the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville School of Pharmacy (SOP) are traveling the area, educating children from pre-kindergarten through third grade about the importance of good hand washing and other hygienic practices.
From Feb. 20-March 10, 40 teams of P1 students are participating in the SOP’s annual service learning experience. They are visiting 378 classrooms in nearly 50 area schools and using education to prevent the spread of common childhood viral and bacterial illnesses.
“Using engaging and relatable methods to teach children to decrease their exposure to germs may decrease common childhood illnesses, possibly leading to benefits such as fewer absences from school due to sick days, better nutrition intake, and more energy for growth and development,” said Jennifer Arnoldi, PharmD, clinical associate professor and experiential education coordinator in the SOP. “This program trains student pharmacists to provide community-focused education throughout the rest of pharmacy school and beyond.”
P1 students Aaron Burge, of Mt. Vernon, and Andrew Moore, of Rochester, visited a third grade classroom at Woodland Elementary in Edwardsville to give their ninth presentation on the topic.
“Today, we’re going to talk about germs and hand washing,” Moore told the students. “Germs are like tiny invaders that get into your body and make you feel sick, including bacteria and viruses.”
The students listened intently and participated in the future pharmacists engaging activities. Burge and Moore agree this experience has taken them a little out of their comfort zone, but will surely enhance their skills as pharmacists.
“Pharmacists are educators,” Burge said. “We need to be able to teach the public, especially kids, so practicing now is important. Getting the students engaged has helped keep their attention and made learning fun. That was our goal.”
“This is a great opportunity, because it has taken us out of the classroom and into the community, so we can interact,” added Moore. “The students have seemed engaged and attentive, and are enjoying our interactive activities like having them place the hand washing steps in order, taking our quiz by standing up and sitting down for true and false questions, and listening to a book we’ve read.”
“While this opportunity helps pharmacy students further their ability to work with others, build communication skills and practice public speaking, the greatest benefit may come from the experience of breaking down a large, complex topic into an understandable and meaningful format for their audience,” Arnoldi said. “As future pharmacists, this skill is invaluable for communicating with patients about complicated disease states and medications.
“Most of our participating students find this experience extremely rewarding and can appreciate that even early in their schooling, they can have a significant impact on the community.”
Photo: Megan Stafford and Veebha Gowda, first-year students in the SIUE School of Pharmacy, interact with students in East St. Louis during their hand washing presentation.
SIUE School of Pharmacy first-year students Andrew Moore (L) and Aaron Burge (R) give a presentation about hand washing to third grade students at Woodland Elementary in Edwardsville.