Monmouth University nursing students administered COVID-19 vaccines at Brookdale Community College as a part of their clinical experiences, their third time administering vaccines in total, on Tuesday, March 23.
The students have previously worked with RWJ Barnabas Health, Monmouth Medical Center, and the Monmouth County Health Department to administer vaccines at various New Jersey locations. Currently, the School of Nursing is working with the Visiting Nursing Association of Central Jersey (VNACJ) to have students participate at the organization’s vaccination sites.
Laura Jannone, Ed.D., associate professor and coordinator of the Nursing program, arranged the participation of the pre-licensure baccalaureate nursing students in local COVID-19 vaccine clinics, at the direction of Dean of the School of Nursing and Health Studies Ann Marie Mauro, Ph.D.
“[Our students] are part of history,” Jannone said. “Nursing during a pandemic is extremely important—not only in caring for the sick, but also in preventing illness by participating in vaccine clinics. They get to witness how the response team sets up and rolls out the mass point of distribution (POD) clinic… Students have the opportunity to provide essential health care during a pandemic and to protect the public from COVID-19 through mass vaccination efforts.”
Rachel Blackwell, a sophomore nursing student, described treating the 1200 people who arrived at the clinic for either their first or second dose as a very rewarding experience. “This vaccination clinic helped me practice skills that I will continue to use here and in my nursing career,” Blackwell said, noting that Monmouth’s nursing labs have helped prepare her for the experience.
Heather Orgonas, also a sophomore nursing student, agreed that the experience was very beneficial to her educational journey. “Being a part of this vaccine clinic allowed me and my fellow nursing students the opportunity to put some of the skills we learned in the lab into actual practice. This definitely helped us to further strengthen our education and our job-related performance,” she said.
If getting the vaccine is scary for some, administering the vaccine is at a whole other level, but the nursing students proved up to the challenge.
“At the beginning of the day, I was pretty nervous to be giving out the vaccines as I did not want to hurt anyone or possibly perform the skill incorrectly. But once the day went on, and I had given out a few rounds of injections, I definitely calmed down and was really able to focus on the goal of the day,” Orgonas said.
“We met and spoke to a lot of great people that day, and it overall felt really rewarding to be able to help out in distributing these vaccinations in the fight against COVID-19,” she said.
Blackwell agreed, “I was anxious to administer my first dose, [but] after I gave the first injection, I gained more confidence and felt more relaxed. I felt proud being able to give an individual a vaccine that can keep them from getting seriously ill and ending up in a hospital.”
“I am very proud of the Monmouth Pre-Licensure BSN students. They arrive at 7:15 a.m. and work a full day giving vaccines, going over health questionnaires, and observing for side effects. The students are compassionate and empathetic. They listen to the stories of the people getting vaccines, some of whom have lost loved ones to COVID-19,” Jannone said.
A version of this story was originally published in the Volume 93 (Fall 2020 – Spring 2021) edition of The Outlook by Denisse Quintanilla, junior Spanish and Communication student with a concentration in media studies and production.