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Student Nurses Help With Community Vaccination Efforts

Connie Young/WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Services

Spokane area health care providers are in vaccine mode as we head into cold and flu season.

MultiCare on Tuesday announced a series of eight flu vaccine clinics over the next two months. The Spokane Regional Health District held a curbside vaccination clinic for both children and adults Tuesday at Rogers High School. Another one is scheduled for next Tuesday at Mead High School.

At some of those clinics, nurses will be joined by students from the Washington State and Gonzaga nursing schools and the WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Nursing students are back at their studies this fall. A lot of what they do is book work. They often practice the skills they learn, at least in non-Covid times, with high-tech manikins in campus simulation laboratories. There they are watched and evaluated by their professors.

Still, it’s not the same as treating a real person.

Kay Olson, an assistant teaching professor in WSU’s College of Nursing, says her students have been training recently to immunize people in Spokane area clinics.

“It’s a great opportunity for our students to be out in the community, get real world hands-on experience and, at the same time, help our community," she said.

Olson places a couple of students a semester with the immunization program at the health district. They and others work with health district nurses in community settings.

“We have one entire section of students that serve the downtown population and that need has grown so much in Spokane, an area that is fortunate to have so many resources," she said.

Olson says if the health district has a vaccination opportunity but not enough nurses to send out, it has a "pack-and-go kit" for students and their supervisors.

She says, once word gets out about the students’ availability, they tend to become popular.

“We will oftentimes get lots of different places that will contact us and say, ‘Hey, we could use some help vaccinating,' and it’s wonderful because they know our students like that experience. It’s nice that they reach out to us and we’re able to help them because they’re able to vaccinate more people in a more timely fashion," she said.

In addition to working with the health district, Olson says her students have other clinical opportunities as well, for example with the VA clinic.