UP nursing students are now administering vaccines at the Oregon Convention Center in a collaboration between the School of Nursing and Kaiser Permanente. Students will get up to a total of 15 hours working at the OCC in the coming weeks, where they get to both mix the vaccine and administer it to community members.
“I think this experience is helping to really fuel their excitement and to help them feel like they can have a meaningful contribution, even in this time of a pandemic,” Casey Shillam, the dean of the nursing school, said.
The students that were selected for this experience were primarily students that had their clinical hours canceled. About 50 students, mostly juniors, had their normal clinicals postponed or canceled due to clinical sites refusing to take on nursing students during the pandemic. Administering vaccines is one way for students to make up these missed experiences with patients.
“It's not necessarily acute care, which is what our rotation was supposed to be,” junior nursing major Katherine Lund said. “But I actually felt like I was doing something, like I was helping the population.”
Students are given about 30 minutes of training upon their arrival at the convention center and are supervised by nursing school faculty. Students are vaccinating up to 70 people during their shifts, mostly educators and the elderly, as those are the groups that are currently eligible to be vaccinated in Oregon.
“I vaccinated about 50 people my first day, and at least 10 of them were teachers,” said Thomas Smith, a junior nursing major. “Everyone was really glad to be there.”
The state of Oregon hopes to be vaccinating about 300,000 people a week by the end of March, with a large percentage of those being administered at the convention center. This means they need more people with the necessary training to give the shots. UP nursing students are helping to fill this void.
“Our nursing students have just been shining,” Shillam said. “They have been able to take everything that they've been learning in their classrooms, in their other practice experiences, and in simulation, and they are synthesizing it all in such a great way.”
With post-pandemic life on the horizon, the excitement around the vaccinations is palpable.
“I had one patient cry because she was so happy to be receiving her vaccine,” said Lund. “I really feel like I’m making a difference.”
Mia Werner is a reporter for The Beacon. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.