With COVID-19 proving its longevity and flu season kicking into high gear, seven senior Immaculata University nursing students volunteered to administer vaccinations to local community members at a Chester County Department of Health vaccine clinic held September 29 at Great Valley Middle School.
“I want our nursing students to understand the differences they make may not always happen at the bedside,” stated Alessandra Calderone, MSN, RNC-NIC, associate faculty and clinical coordinator for Immaculata’s Division of Nursing, who accompanied the students to the clinic. “As members of the Immaculata community, donating some of our time to service is part of who we are. By participating in this local vaccination campaign, we are not only giving back to those around us but playing a vital role in an important public health initiative.”
Although Immaculata students learn in simulation labs and through clinical rotations, they welcome the real-world experience gained by working with patients in the clinic and how that experience can lead to future career opportunities and better patient outcomes.
Melinda Azat, enrolled in Immaculata’s accelerated second-degree nursing program, has worked 20 years at Paoli Hospital and earned her Bachelor of Arts in General Science from Immaculata in 2020. Graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) degree in 2023, she intends to work in an emergency room or trauma unit.
Anthony Pisciella, also a second-degree nursing student, valued the volunteer opportunity and shared how his interacting with patients helped him learn methods for calming those who were initially nervous about receiving shots. By simply talking with patients about their days, he was able to direct their focus away from the shots and toward something more pleasant.
“The Chester County Health Department is grateful to have the support of Immaculata University and its nursing students at our community flu clinics. While our clinics provide real world training for future nurses, the experience also provides them the opportunity to see the importance of a public health approach to health and the resources it takes to make it successful,” stated a spokesperson for the Chester County Health Department. “As a health department, we continuously seek to strengthen our community not only by the services we offer but also by those we partner with to provide such valuable services.”
Timothy Lockett, a B.S.N. student, emphasizes the importance of getting vaccinated to help stop the spread of disease and infections. “Vaccines not only protect yourself from disease and infection but help protect those who are more vulnerable such as those undergoing cancer treatment, those who have compromised immune systems, as well as the younger and older populations,” he stated.
Vaccine clinic volunteers were required to meet certain training criteria, and the Chester County Health Department supplied all products, equipment and education needed to safely administer the vaccines. Additional volunteers handled the registration, check in, and eligibility determination process for the 350 people who registered for the clinic. Immaculata students alone administered over 125 vaccines.