By Angela Go
Georgia State University nursing students play an essential role in protecting Atlanta-area older adults against the COVID-19 virus.
Mass vaccination efforts against the virus allow these students to be part of health care history and get much-needed vaccines into the arms of the most vulnerable members of society.
Teresa Bates, the nursing course coordinator for senior practicum, recruited and organized the nursing students. Registered nurse faculty Michelle Nelson, Kristen Lingle and Joan Cranford supervised rotating groups of seven bachelor’s nursing students to help new clinical partner Ethne Health in Clarkston, Ga., vaccinate more than 150 older adults against COVID-19 daily. In two three-day weeks, more than 700 received vaccinations at the drive-thru site. Ethne Health provides health care for those without health care access and health insurance in the Clarkston area.
Standing in an asphalt parking lot in the cold February weather, nursing students registered, pre-screened, vaccinated and monitored older adults for adverse reactions to the vaccine. The experience was valuable, preparing nursing students clinically for the new COVID-19 health care reality. Under Nelson’s supervision, students were able to administer the shots, build their clinical skills and confidence, and learn to interact with live patients.
Nelson praised the nursing students’ eagerness and work ethic, saying they worked like machines.
“The second morning [we were onsite], it was raining,” Nelson said. “Just miserable weather, but that made the experience much more meaningful. You couldn’t stop them from saving lives.”
Georgia State was the only college or university to send students to Ethne for the mass vaccination. Ethne Health leaders appreciated the student assistance and planned to welcome them back for future rounds of vaccinations.
“These [Georgia State] students were the grease that helped the engine turn,” said Dr. Andrew Kim, family physician/team leader at Ethne.
Nursing students are equally grateful for the opportunity to participate. With many in-person clinicals limited, students quickly and eagerly filled the available work time slots.
“I had the amazing opportunity to administer COVID-19 vaccines today to the Clarkston community,” said Hannah Levy, an undergraduate nursing student. “Overall, I had an experience that I will never forget, and I am extremely thankful.”
Photo by Steve Thackston