Nursing, PAS students play active role at COVID-19 vaccination clinics

Kirkhof College of Nursing faculty members, in white lab coats, and students in blue scrub shirts, are pictured at the vaccine clinic in Grand Rapids.
KCON faculty members Kristi Cooper (far left) and Della Hughes Carter (far right) stand with senior nursing students who staffed the West Michigan Vaccine Clinic.
Image Credit: courtesy photo

Grand Valley nursing and physician assistant studies students are helping to combat COVID-19 by administering vaccinations in Kent and Ottawa counties.

Kristi Cooper, senior affiliate faculty of nursing, said Kirkhof College of Nursing students are helping to staff the West Michigan Vaccine Clinic at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids. The clinic is a collaboration among Kent County Health Department, Spectrum Health, Mercy Health and the Vaccinate West Michigan consortium; an average of 700 patients are vaccinated in an hour at the clinic.

"Our students are excited to help," Cooper said. "Finally, we can do something to combat this pandemic."

Three cohorts of KCON students will rotate shifts at the clinic through April. Cooper said the students are learning valuable clinical skills.

Paige Sanders, a senior nursing student from Chicago, worked at the clinic on February 25. Sanders said she and other KCON students were grouped together in adjoining exam rooms. Nursing students from Calvin University, Hope College, and the University of Detroit-Mercy program at Aquinas College are also involved.

"There was a big group briefing of all the staff before we started giving vaccinations," said Sanders, who also works as a nurse aide for Mercy Health. "Someone comes around with the vaccines and then the patients come in and you go over their paperwork and ask if it's their first or second dose."

Sanders said the majority of her patients were K-12 teachers; other KCON students saw people who were older than 65. "A lot of people were excited to get their shot, a few people asked me to take photos," she said. "Everyone thanked me for being there, it was a very encouraging atmosphere to be in."

KCON students wave from their individual exam rooms at the West Michigan Vaccine Clinic.
KCON students wave from their individual exam rooms at the West Michigan Vaccine Clinic.
courtesy photo
Physician Assistant Studies students gave vaccinations at the Meijer Campus in Holland.
Physician Assistant Studies students gave vaccinations at the Meijer Campus in Holland.
courtesy photo

Ottawa County

Students in the Physician Assistant Studies program assisted the Ottawa County Department of Public Health at the vaccine clinic on GVSU’s Meijer Campus in Holland. 

Paul Christensen, PAS chair and program director, said students helped vaccinate patients who were coming for their second dose of vaccine on February 19. More than 750 people were vaccinated; most were over age 65 or in high-risk groups, he said.

 KCON students active in the Student Nurses Association are also volunteering at the Meijer Campus clinic, serving as greeters, registration assistants and vaccine runners.