During the first months of 2021, students in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing and accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs volunteered more than 880 hours and administered about 15,900 COVID-19 vaccinations in partnership with Covenant Health, the Knox County Health Department, Cherokee Health Systems, UT Medical Center, and Faith Leaders Church Initiative.
“Volunteering to administer the COVID-19 vaccines has been an incredibly humbling experience,” says senior nursing student Corinne Shapiro of Columbia, Tennessee. “After months of pushing forward in health care despite the challenges, these vaccine clinics have been a glimpse of hope towards a better future. I am so grateful for this hands-on opportunity.”
Senior Kayla Miller of West Dundee, Illinois, assisted at a Covenant Health clinic. “I had read about the vaccine a lot and heard about it on the news,” says Miller. “But it finally felt real when this opportunity arose. It was such an inspiring experience being able to help distribute the vaccine.”
“The nursing students were professional and provided excellent care,” says Bonnie Graham, a member of the Faith Leaders Church Initiative. “They were attuned to the needs of the senior populations coming in and worked calmly and efficiently to make their time with us pleasant. I saw kindness, compassion, and camaraderie for a single purpose, which was to vaccinate as many as was possible with the vaccines on hand. This was an extraordinary effort given the time frame and the volume of people coming through on a regular basis.”
In partnership with the Knox County Health Department and multiple campus departments, nursing students also began distributing the vaccine on campus to eligible members of the public.
“The on-campus clinics were great example of interdisciplinary practice, with nursing, pharmacy, medicine, facilities management, emergency management, and a host of volunteers carrying out what it really means when we say ‘Vol is a Verb,’” says Allyson Matney Neal, clinical assistant professor in the College of Nursing.
Student nurses will continue to help administer vaccines for the foreseeable future.
“To be a Volunteer means to live the Torchbearer Creed,” says College of Nursing Dean Victoria Niederhauser, “‘One that beareth a torch shadoweth oneself to give light to others.’ By participating in these clinics in partnership with our community agencies and hospitals, I believe we are helping to shed a ray of hope that we will get this pandemic under control and people will be able to get back to some sort of new normalcy in work and play.”