University of Wisconsin Oshkosh College of Nursing (CON) students have been given the opportunity to gain experience administering vaccinations thanks to a grant from the Wisconsin Partnership Program (WPP).
The $40,000 grant was provided to the UW Oshkosh CON to develop the COVID-19 vaccine volunteer program with the goal of assisting the surrounding Oshkosh area’s community health partners with distributing vaccines.
So far organizations that have benefited from this effort include the Outagamie, Winnebago and Waupaca public health departments; area school districts; the UWO Student Health Center and the community vaccination site at the Culver Family Welcome Center.
Since the beginning of the program March 2, students have been able to volunteer their time while also gaining valuable real-world experience. There have been 131 student volunteers who have given more than 3,200 vaccinations.
Maggie Docherty, CON instructor and WPP COVID-19 grant coordinator, said the grant has made it possible for students to not only assist with administering vaccines, but to provide education and help monitor patients who receive them.
“CON student volunteers get some real-time intramuscular injection practice,” she said. “They also learn a great deal about the different types of vaccines that are available for COVID-19, as well as pertinent education to provide our community members. This helps ensure more people are being vaccinated and informed in our community.”
“This is truly a remarkable time for nursing students to be leading the way in keeping our communities healthy and we are incredibly impressed by our students’ willingness to be active leaders in improving the health of our community.”
Abri Hegle, a junior nursing major from Janesville, heard about the volunteer opportunity from a classmate and was immediately interested in participating. She considers it to be an extremely rewarding experience.
“Getting hands-on experience at a vaccination clinic is so useful. I was able to perfect the skill of giving an intramuscular injection that I will use for the rest of my career as a nurse. Not only was it fun and educational, it was also well organized, and everything flowed so nicely,” Hegle said. “Every single person that I was able to vaccinate was so appreciative and it was exciting to be a part of something like this!”
Fellow junior nursing major Katie Quackenboss of Fond du Lac also volunteered her time giving vaccinations and is proud to be able to say that she served her community during a worldwide pandemic.
“Volunteering allowed me to practice my skills and play an important role in helping communities stay healthy,” said Quackenboss. “It was a really rewarding experience and I can now look back and say I helped during the pandemic.”
Both Hegle and Quackenboss highly recommend volunteering in the COVID-19 vaccine volunteer program to other nursing students and plan to continue volunteering with the program for the foreseeable future.
Top photo: UWO nursing student Alexis Dietsche administers a COVID-19 vaccine at the Fox Cities Exhibition Center in downtown Appleton.