Avila Now

March 29, 2021

Avila Nursing Aids KC Vaccination Effort

A group of nursing students in scrubs posing in room.
Third-year students from the Avila University School of Nursing pose together at Overland Park Regional Medical Center this February. Nearly 90 nursing students aided in the vaccination efforts at Overland Park Regional and North Kansas City Hospital this semester.

Seniors and juniors from Avila University’s School of Nursing served at two Kansas City hospitals this semester as part of the on-going COVID-19 vaccination efforts.

Nearly 90 seniors and juniors began vaccinating first responders on Friday, February 5 at North Kansas City Hospital and Overland Park Regional Medical Center.

“Our students’ willingness to aid in the fight against COVID-19 demonstrates that Avila students are using their education and skills to actively protect and improve the Kansas City community,” said Darrin Smith, Ph.D., dean of the College of Science & Health. “Avila’s School of Nursing has been graduating excellent and essential medical care professionals in Kansas City since its founding more than 70 years ago and this effort typifies why that continues to be the case.”

The opportunity arose when educators at each hospital contacted Jessica Brunsman, MSN, RN, CPN, Clinical Coordinator for the School of Nursing and Assistant Professor of Nursing, to inquire about potential volunteers. Brunsman said the connections originated through the MOKAN Nursing Student Placement Center, a collection of higher education institutions in the Kansas City area partnering with local hospitals for clinical placement. Avila was specifically chosen because of the strength of the nursing program’s students and pre-established community connections.

“In my six years of being Clinical Coordinator, we’ve built some strong relationships with leadership at hospitals in Kansas City and have gotten to know people at those institutions pretty well,” Brunsman said. “One of the hospital directors was looking for volunteers and Avila’s name came up. The educator at one of the facilities specifically said, ‘You should contact Avila, they are so great to work with’ and it grew from there.”

Each day, groups of students serve at each hospital giving the vaccinations and performing tasks around the vaccine clinics to assist the hospital personnel. Students were given an opportunity to receive a vaccination, in exchange for their service as a healthcare volunteer, and they are receiving clinical hours through the university for their service. According to Connor Wingate, a nursing student who has already accepted a position with the Emergency Department at the University of Kansas Medical Center, the experience has been intense, but rewarding.

“This has been a fantastic opportunity to make use of all of our training,” he said. “By the time we stepped into the vaccination clinics, we had plenty of clinical experience and hands-on skills training to help us feel comfortable screening patients and administering vaccines. Once we began, the pace was very fast, and we had to learn how to streamline our patient interactions to get as many people through as possible.

“It felt great know that we got to help people who had been isolated for months missing their families. I have never seen people so excited to get a shot!”

Brunsman said the partnership has been mutually beneficial so far.

“The nurses were immediately grateful to have our students’ assistance with the vaccination effort, and I get weekly emails complementing our students in the clinical sites,” she said. “Our students appreciate being a part of a unique time—they’re proud to be a part of the process. They will forever be able to say they were part of bringing the pandemic to an end. The patients receiving their vaccines are grateful for the opportunity to receive their vaccine, as it brings a bit of hope to a long, unknown situation.”

“I am grateful that Avila University School of Nursing had the resources available to facilitate this opportunity for our students.”

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