Wednesday, February 24, 2021

CVTC Students Assisting with COVID Vaccinations

Experience counts as part of their clinical assignments

Article Photo - CVTC Students Assisting with COVID Vaccinations

CVTC Nursing students wearing protective gear are pictured at one of the stations they staffed at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Eau Claire North High School recently.

Chippewa Valley Technical College Nursing students are serving the community and gaining experience in direct patient contact by helping at an Eau Claire City-County Health Department COVID-19 vaccination clinic during the spring semester.

One group of eight first-year students recently completed two weeks of service, at the clinic being held at Eau Claire North High School, while second-year students are continuing to help and more groups of students will soon be joining the effort, according to Gina Bloczynski, associate dean of nursing.

“Participation in the vaccination clinic was a clinical learning opportunity for these students,” Bloczynski said. “The students were paired with the vaccination clinic opportunity based on their course and clinical schedule. Students will continue to help at the clinic through the spring semester, and some will be able to help even after school is over in May on a volunteer basis.”

Nursing students are required to complete a certain number of hours in clinical settings like hospitals, nursing homes and clinics as part of their training, Bloczynski added. The vaccination clinic provides a perfect opportunity for the students to not only help complete the requirements, but also assist with the community response to the pandemic.

“Students are able to use their skills in an in-person setting,” said instructor Ranae Dabruzzi, who supervised her first-year students at the clinic. “They were very excited to be involved with people and are having a positive experience.”

The students perform a variety of tasks at the clinic.

“We rotated around stations,” said Savannha Spath, a 2017 Cadott High School graduate and a second-semester Nursing student. “I took temperatures, administered the vaccine and scheduled people for their second doses.”

“The first day, I was a greeter taking people’s temperatures,” said Alyssa Alcantar of Osseo, originally from Phelps, WI. “I loved the interaction with people. I made sure they had their forms filled out and gave injections. We basically rotated stations.”

Both Alcantar and Spath decided to pursue Nursing degrees at CVTC after working in the healthcare field in other capacities.

“I went to CVTC for the Medical Assistant program first and worked at Mayo Clinic Health System for two years,” Spath said. “I worked closely with LPN’s and RN’s and saw what they were capable of doing. I also saw the opportunities available in Nursing and thought I would go for it and shoot for the stars.”

Alcantar, 33, built a career working at assisted living facilities, including as an administrator. “I dealt with the residents and the staff but didn’t feel like I had the skills I needed to do the best job I could,” she said.

Alcantar was also inspired and encouraged by her spouse, who is a nurse.

Since the current group to be receiving vaccines is made up primarily of people 65 and older, Alcantar was in her comfort zone interacting with them due to her previous experience. “I thought this was an awesome opportunity,” she said. “I learned a lot. I am very comfortable with people in that age group.”

Whether at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic or in performing other duties, being involved in direct patient interaction involves some risks during the time of the pandemic, but precautions were taken for the students.

“It was a little unsettling because people were coming from all over Eau Claire County, but I am young and healthy, and we had gowns, gloves, face shields and masks,” Spath said.

For Dabruzzi’s first-year students, the clinical experiences continued after their time at the vaccination clinic. They moved on to helping in the OB Department at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire.

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