For the duration of the spring 2021 semester, Elms College nursing students led the charge to vaccinate the most vulnerable members of American society.
In partnership with Big Y Foods, the Elms College School of Nursing helped operate two vaccination clinics in East Longmeadow and Greenfield, MA, assisting thousands of western Massachusetts in gaining protection against COVID-19.
“Our students are receiving a unique and impactful learning experience that will better prepare them as nurses,” said Kathleen B. Scoble, Ed.D., M.Ed., M.A., RN, dean of the School of Nursing.
Students in the traditional undergraduate, accelerated second degree, RN-BSN, and MSN programs kept the clinics running efficiently by checking in patients, administering shots, observing patients to check for symptoms, and scheduling follow up visits. In addition to gaining invaluable experience to apply to their careers, many students expressed how they shared a common drive to benefit humanity.
Working on the frontlines of the pandemic gave the student volunteers invaluable real-world experience. For Shelby Brouillette ’22 of Springfield, MA, being at the clinic represents the full spectrum of holistic nursing.
“This experience allows us to get a really structured view of what we will do in the future as nurses,” she said. “It’s amazing.”
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Olivia Koretz ’22, a junior from Windsor Locks, CT. “I wanted to do my part and inspire other future nurses to become healthcare heroes.”
“I think the community has really enjoyed having a local college here; they have been really receptive to our students,” said Assistant Clinical Professor of Nursing Carly Berneche ’11, DNP ’17, APRN, FNP-C. “We see them out in the community and if they see a student with scrubs on, they are just so appreciative to them.”
Berneche added that having the nursing students participate in the clinics is an educational experience that they will carry with them for the rest of their careers and is a strong representation of the Elms College mission of caring for the “dear neighbor.”
“It is so awesome the students are here,” said vaccine recipient Lillian Fedora. “They are very good. You do not even know you are getting your shot.”
“This partnership is crucial for the success of this whole program,” said Jennifer Salvon, the Massachusetts pharmacy operations manager for Big Y. “The Elms students have been very flexible, very knowledgeable and very hard working. We have got nothing but compliments on the techniques of the nurses and the way that the whole clinic is run. It has been a great relationship.”
The nursing department planned to continue the partnership throughout the semester, and Berneche said it is possible Big Y will hire some of the students to work in the clinics during the summer, and that the partnership could continue in the fall if the clinics are still being held.
A version of this article appeared in the Spring 2021 issue of Elms Magazine. Additional content has been included for the web.