The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC) School of Nursing was awarded the Chattanooga Community Kitchen (CCK) Group Award for outstanding service in 2010-2011.

UTC School of Nursing partnered with Brother Ron Fender and CCK in 2008, offering a few hands and willing hearts to provide foot care initiatives for the homeless.

Fender’s small team included a podiatrist as well as Dr. Lisa Muirhead, assistant professor in the UTC School of Nursing, and UTC nursing students.  Services were offered in a small, crowded room in CCK.

Unexpected outcomes have emerged through this partnership and service learning experience. Often, the homeless population experience negative encounters with health care professionals, leading to distrust, fear and resentment. However, the nursing students engaged with this very vulnerable population, seizing teachable moments that resulted after disarming and redefining the patient – nurse relationship, according to Dr. Kay Lindgren, Director of the School of Nursing.

Students describe the experience as “empowering, life changing, and fulfilling.”  They report that their previously held personal generalizations and societal characterizations about the homeless population have changed.

Lindgren noted that under Muirhead’s leadership, both the nursing students and the population they served felt the human connections where soles meet souls.

“Our students experience firsthand the challenges of people living on the street or in shelters. Activities such as the foot care initiative put a face and a name on the homeless,” Lindgren said.

The foot care center is sustained through the vision and leadership of Fender, the partnership with UTC SON and local podiatrist Dr. Michael Lawrence, and the support of the community.  Individuals, organizations and groups continue to donate supplies and funds after realizing the impact this partnership has made.

For more information, please contact the UTC School of Nursing at (423) 425-4644.

 

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