HYBRID EVENT: You can participate in person at Baltimore, Maryland, USA or Virtually from your home or work.

8th Edition of Nursing World Conference

October 17-19, 2024 | Baltimore, USA

October 17 -19, 2024 | Baltimore, USA
NWC 2023

Teaching empathy to Nursing students through a foot soak program for homeless people

Speaker at Nursing Conference - Sarah Harrington
California State University San Bernardino, United States
Title : Teaching empathy to Nursing students through a foot soak program for homeless people


Homeless people experience stigmatization, shaming, and uncompassionate care, which destroys their trust in the healthcare system and dignity. The ultimate outcome of our project is to see future nurses change and improve the interactions between homeless people and healthcare staff and ultimately improve homeless people's access to health services such as primary and preventive care. This change will lead to care that is delivered with compassion and integrity.  

Audience Take Away Notes:

•    learn how to implement a foot soak program;
•    understand the need to empathize with homeless people;
•    identify the need for foot care for homeless people.

Service-learning activities like the Foot Soak Program (FSP) for undergraduate nursing students can be an instrument of change by promoting empathy development before these students join the nursing profession.

The CSUSB Nursing Street Medicine Program (NSMP) brings care packages and healthcare services to the unsheltered homeless population.  With the addition of the FSP, the NSMP offers access to foot care and much-needed empathetic conversation. Faculty coach the students on empathetic conversation, the introduction of non-medical and neutral topics, and active listening. Guests sit higher than the students to promote empowerment, are given choices in the products used, are called by their name throughout the conversation, and eye contact is maintained.

Students take a survey of attitudes toward homelessness and homeless people before and after the foot soak experience, Positive attitude change is validated by the survey results.

The FSP helps prevent the further marginalization of homeless unhoused people and teaches therapeutic communication.

The Foot Soak Program is the first of its kind in California and one of the few in America. We hope to replicate the program around the country.


Sarah Harrington is a senior nursing student at California State University San Bernardino and the nursing student assistant for the CSUSB Nursing Street Medicine Program.  She has been nominated for the CSUSB Most Outstanding Student Employee.