When you ask nursing students what drew them to the profession, more often than not they say they wanted to find a career that would allow them to help their communities.
The COVID-19 pandemic has given nursing students, including those in the Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) program at Missouri State University-West Plains (MSU-WP), the perfect opportunity to do just that.
Like many of their counterparts across the country, MSU-WP’s students have answered the call to help healthcare providers administer COVID vaccines to their neighbors and friends.
MSU-WP students have assisted Ozarks Healthcare officials administer vaccinations at several clinics at the hospital in West Plains, and they have participated in a vaccination clinic Feb. 12 in Shannon County and the mass vaccination clinics on Jan. 29 and Feb. 26 at the West Plains Civic Center.
The mass clinics were organized by the Howell County Health Department, Ozarks Healthcare, the City of West Plains and the Missouri National Guard.
Not only have students drawn and administered the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines at these clinics, they’ve also helped patients complete paperwork and monitor patients for 15 minutes following their injections for any potential severe reactions.
MSU-WP Director of Nursing Amy Ackerson estimates the students have helped administer over 3,500 injections. This figure does not include numbers from the Feb. 26 clinic, she added.
“Their participation in these clinics has been very important. These students have never seen, and may never see again, a community health event of this magnitude,” Ackerson said.
“The lessons they’ve learned from participating in the clinics have been invaluable to their training,” she added. “Not only have they learned hands-on injection training, they’ve also developed communication skills and learned more about interdisciplinary healthcare dynamics and infection control.”
Second-year nursing student Morgan Spoor, West Plains, said she has enjoyed participating in the clinics. “I feel as though we, as nursing students, were needed during this time in order to help our community,” she explained.
“It is important to me to participate because I want to help my community. I talked to several people who came to get their vaccination, and almost every one of them thanked me for my service. That made me feel even more needed,” she added.
Spoor said the clinics also have given her the opportunity to further develop her skills as a nurse.
“It has giving me the confidence to give an intramuscular shot, as well as the ability to talk to patients,” she said of volunteering for the clinics. “I also have learned how to perfect the skills needed to give an immunization, and I have received some helpful tips to make the process smoother.”
One of the best things about participating in the clinics is seeing the hope the vaccinations are providing to patients, Spoor said.
“These vaccination clinics are providing some peace of mind and light during this pandemic. I am so blessed to be able to help my community. As a future nurse, I got to see a glimpse of how my actions help others and change lives,” she said.
Ackerson said she would like to thank officials at the Howell County Health Department and Ozarks Healthcare for giving the students the opportunity to help with the clinics.
“We are grateful for their invitations to help because we may never see anything like this again in our lifetime,” Ackerson said.