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York Students Maximizing Campus Vaccine Site

The mega vaccination site at York College, CUNY, placed there by FEMA and NY State government has become the gift that keeps on giving.

Not only have more than 125,000 Queens and other residents been vaccinated against the coronavirus there thus far, but [York’s] students in the health professions and hard sciences such as Pre-Med students have been volunteering and interning at the site as well.

Nursing students, members of the Pre-Med Club and even two Physician Assistant alumni are participating in the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to serve and to learn.

According to Dr. Renee Wright, chair of the Nursing department, this is a perfect opportunity for York’s students to learn and to give. Her students are usually accompanied by a faculty member and senior Nursing students are able to inject the vaccines. Others help to monitor participants following their shots. Other student volunteers assist “patients” in wheelchairs. She appreciates the value that the site offers to the college community in addition to its chief purpose of vaccinating the general community.

 “Many of [our] students, faculty, and staff have been personally affected by the pandemic,” says Dr. Wright. “Having the opportunity to participate in the vaccination program will benefit the community and hopefully prevent greater loss. The York College Nursing Students bring their knowledge, skills, and desire to serve the community, many of them live and/or work here (in Southeast Queens). Not only will this experience be rewarding; it will also be historical.”

Professor Wright required her students to provide a reflection on their experience at “the pod” and one in particular summed up the experience from her perspective as a senior Nursing major.

“Assisting with the vaccine process provided me with a great clinical experience, says Bianca Blake. “I was able to provide patient education to various patients alongside nurses [assigned to the site]. A popular educational point that appeared was talking with patients on anticoagulants. We explained that due to the anticoagulant the patient may bleed more than an individual not on an anticoagulant. We explained the need to apply pressure for two minutes post-injection to reduce the bleeding.”

Blake, who lives locally, added that it was a value-added experience.

“I enjoyed administering vaccinations to patients and utilizing my documentation skills on the electronic record,” she says. “It was an extremely unique and rewarding opportunity to work alongside the Navy nurses and medics. Overall, I appreciated the experience and would like to return to vaccination pod soon.”

Rose Kaluigwe, a Pre-Med senior and president of the college’s Pre-Med Club, was interested in serving and concurrently, earning necessary internship experience as she gets ready to apply to medical schools.

“I needed clinical experience and I got other members of the club to join me,” she says. “We are doing it through Dr. Shawn Williams’ (401) field-based experience class. I hope to be a doctor in the future and volunteering at the COVID vaccination site gave me an incomparable preclinical experience. I learnt a lot about how vaccination works, I also got inspired by the healthcare workers and doctors administering the vaccine.” 

Calling the vaccination site and its myriad values, “a historic and impactful opportunity,” Dr. Williams, who serves as the program director of one of the largest programs at the college (BS Health Science), says he was able to  forward this and many other related opportunities “to all our or Health Science students (n = ~ 180) taking the HS 401 or the HS 402 course.  Those courses are internship courses - so it is a win-win for everyone.”


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