Since the start of the spring semester, students in Marymount University’s Nursing program have been using their classroom skills to serve as vaccinators in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m pretty amazed that I get this opportunity,” said student Michael Chen. “It’s honestly a privilege.”
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be able to contribute to community health in this way,” added student Elise Hearne.
Chen and Hearne are often on the team of registered nurses and EMS personnel who are on duty for vaccinations at the Lubber Run Community Center in Arlington, Va. The Center has been transformed into a vaccination clinic, one of four that have been organized across Arlington County.
“They have the capacity of doing anywhere from 500 to 1,500 clients per day,” explained Cara O’Donnell, Public Information Officer with Arlington County Public Health. “These students have been an essential part of the vaccination effort.”
In total, 12 Marymount students are serving as vaccinators across the county, with an additional 60 students serving as observational personnel, ensuring that patients are monitored for possible side effects after receiving the vaccine.
At least once a week, these students report to a vaccination clinic and suit up with a red vest labeled “vaccinator.” They prepare their station for the day’s steady stream of patients with a collection of antibacterial wipes, syringes and vials of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“There’s a lot of people in Arlington that want to get vaccinated,” Chen said. “Some of these men and women, they’ve been home for the whole year and they’re just excited to get the vaccine and that we can get back closer to normal.”
For Hearne, the consistent turnout of those willing to get the vaccine has been an encouraging sight.
“I’m just really grateful for the individuals who are willing to seek out this preventative health,” she said. “People are eager to know more and eager to participate in their own health.”
Marymount Nursing students will continue to complement their classroom instruction with volunteer vaccination experiences in the regional effort to minimize the spread of the virus and immunize the community. For some, the rare opportunity to serve on the front lines of pandemic will be most remembered by their brief interactions with patients.
“I feel satisfied knowing that I’m answering these patient’s questions and helping them along,” Chen explained. “They always thank me even though I just do a small, little poke, but they’re always so thankful, which I think makes the job very rewarding.”