Every year the Gonzaga nursing program puts on its flu shot clinic and encourages all staff and students to get vaccinated to protect themselves and others. Junior and senior nursing students utilize training from their labs and clinicals and apply their knowledge in this hands-on situation.
With COVID-19 restrictions in place, the nursing department has had to make major adjustments to its clinicals for juniors and seniors. Clinicals are a critical part of the nursing program, as it allows students to get a feel for what they could encounter post-graduation in the “real world.”
Junior Kenzie Richards says although COVID-19 has posed some new challenges for the program, students and staff alike have worked together to make this time as educational and beneficial as possible.
“I think for all nursing students we entered this semester with a lot of uncertainty, not knowing exactly what opportunities would arise for us,” Richards said via email. “However, the clinicals we have been able to do have still been informational.”
To prepare for the flu shot clinic students utilized both their knowledge from lectures as well as multiple labs that prepared them to successfully administer the flu vaccines to staff and students.
“We had multiple labs to practice our injection technique, and then were tested on our skills by nursing faculty,” Richards said. “It was hard to practice injection technique outside of lab, but thankfully we had open labs on Saturdays where we could come and practice our skills before testing. In order to give flu shots at the flu shot clinic, we had to pass our injection exam.”
Junior Liz Nunes agrees with Richards in that although COVID-19 has placed a lot of new restrictions on the way the nursing program operates its clinicals, she feels as though she is still learning the necessary information that will prepare her for life in the field.
The day of the flu shot clinic for nursing students can range from a two-hour shift up to a whole day. Once the students get to the clinic site, they’re given further instruction on how to check for proper paperwork completion, and other administrative information.
“When we get to the clinic site, we are given information about how to prepare the flu shots, where all the extra supplies are, how we call out people’s names and what to ask them before administering the flu shot,” Nunes said via email.
On top of that, someone from the nursing faculty will observe the students administer their first few flu vaccines, to ensure that proper technique is utilized before handing it all off to the students to run.
For many nursing students, the pandemic has opened their eyes into the world they will enter after graduating from GU. From the stresses that come with the day-to-day responsibility of the job, to the added pressure of being on the frontline of a pandemic, nursing students selflessly put aside their own fears so that they may help others.
“I would say that the biggest thing that the pandemic has opened my eyes to in regard to the nursing profession is that we probably don’t get the luxury of waiting to see if a vaccine for COVID-19 has any really bad adverse side effects,” Nunes said. “We will be on the front lines and need to be protected, so that we can in turn protect others.”
Richards also reflected on how this pandemic has impacted her views on the nursing profession. She agreed with Nunes in that there is a lot more general uncertainty about what they will be walking into once they leave GU, but for Richards the uncertainty just fuels her more.
“One of the biggest reasons that I chose to pursue nursing was because of my desire to help others,” Richards said. “When you come into contact with your patients, they are probably having one of the worst days of their lives. Being able to support them and help get them back on their feet is the coolest feeling, and I am so excited to be a part of that community.”
To be the calm for someone in the middle of their storm is what makes nurses and health care professionals so special. Nursing requires a level of care and precision unlike any other profession, and students must find the balance between learning all the practical skills required, while also recognizing their commitment to care for others.
“In order to step into the nursing profession, I believe that you have to be patient, compassionate and confident in yourself,” Richards said. “There are many situations in nursing that may seem daunting but believing that you know your skills and purely wanting to help others will take you a long way.”