Hometown: Barrington, RI
Degree: Pharm. D.
During spring break this year, pharmacy student Emily Anastasia ’13 went to a completely different world, although she traveled less than a mile to get there.
As part of her last clinical pharmacy rotation in the sixth and final year of the doctor of pharmacy program, Emily spent eight days living at South Bay Retirement Living in South Kingstown, where she had a roommate, 92-year-old Dottie Cusack, made many friends, and learned about geriatric care in a very personal way.
Emily had been a volunteer at South Bay for three years, but her desire to take things further was inspired by the documentary Andrew Jenks, Room 335 she watched in Pharmacy Professor Erica Estus’s class. In the film, Jenks, a 19-year-old student filmmaker, moves into an assisted living community for a summer to better understand what it means to grow old. Moved by the film, Emily told her professor that she would love to have an experience living among the elderly, and that she believed it would be valuable for her as a pharmacy student.
Professor Estus, who has placed pharmacy students at South Bay for geriatric rotations for last five years, looked into the possibility of Emily living at South Bay for a time. She made it happen, although eight days would have to do. Those eight days had a huge impact on Emily—and on the residents of South Bay.
“My experience at South Bay has already changed my life and has made me a better pharmacist,” Emily says. “But not all the lessons were about pharmacy. I learned from the residents about their careers, their families, about war, and about loss. I learned they have hobbies, like knitting, and they are artistic. They are musicians, storytellers, actors, and singers.”
The best part of the experience? “The stories the residents tell,” she says.