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Student Nurses Respond to Need for Clinicians at COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic

by Reading Hospital - Tower Health

Feb 19, 2021

Beginning December 28, 2020 10 Reading Hospital School of Health Sciences (RHSHS) nurses began assisting in the hospital’s COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic in various positions. To date the students have worked more than 750 hours in the clinic.

Student Nurses who met the necessary clinical requirements to administer the vaccine have been temporarily hired by Reading Hospital as Covid-19 Vaccine Clinic Technicians. Upon hiring, the Covid-19 Vaccine Clinic Technicians received additional training before beginning their duties. Freshmen students from the RHSHS also serve as “observers” in the clinic and help by providing paperwork to vaccine recipients and monitoring for any immediate side effects of the vaccine.

“The administration of the COVID-19 vaccine is critical to mitigate the virus in our communities,” said Mary Agnew, DNP, Chief Nursing Officer at Tower Health. “Our student nurses stepped up, without hesitation, to meet the challenge. These individuals truly exemplify the greatest characteristics of nurses within our organization. I have no doubt each will go on to do great things for the health and wellness of their patients upon graduation.”

Nursing students learn medication administration, including the intramuscular technique used to provide the COVID-19 vaccine, early in their educational programs. At RHSHS, students are required to pass simulated competencies to demonstrate proficiency in skills before being permitted to administer medications to patients under the supervision of RN faculty. Under normal circumstances student nurses are not permitted to perform injections outside of their faculty-supervised academic clinical experiences until they are fully licensed. With Pennsylvania facing a shortage of individuals to administer the vaccine, Governor Tom Wolf approved a plan to permit nursing students who have demonstrated expertise in administration of injections to serve as technicians to administer influenza and COVID-19 vaccines with appropriate supervision.

“Our students have helped to fulfill the urgent need to provide the COVID-19 vaccine,” said Debbie Rahn, EdD, MSN, RN, Director, Reading Hospital School of Health Sciences. “They are proud to serve the community in this manner as Covid-19 Vaccine Clinic Technicians.”

Sarah Rodriguez, participating student said, “My time in the clinic has allowed me to further my patient care and communication skills. It is fulfilling to know I was able to aid in the fight against COVID-19 alongside my fellow students and nurses. This is history in the making!”

William M. Jennings, Reading Hospital President and CEO added, “I’ve heard from many of our team members that were impressed by the knowledge, skill, and professionalism of these students. I commend them for their commitment to their community and the caring profession they have chosen. This group of devoted students truly demonstrate Tower Health’s promise of advancing health and transforming lives. I am very proud of our school and I am especially proud of this group of nursing students.”

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