Pharmacy students help administer 33,000+ Covid vaccines and counting
Student pharmacists have administered vaccines at more than 20 facilities throughout Middle Tennessee.
Shelby Bratcher and Janel Shoun-Smith |
As America begins the fall of 2021 fighting the Delta variant of Covid-19, Lipscomb University’s College of Pharmacy has been doing its part for months, with about 63% of the student body having participated in a Covid vaccine event during the 2020-21 school year.
While some student pharmacists have been providing vaccinations as part of their required clinical work, most have been participating as volunteers. During 2020-21, student pharmacists administered or prepared 33,472 Covid vaccines at 22 facilities, including pharmacies, hospitals, assisted living facilities and nonprofit clinics, throughout Middle Tennessee.
“Students were able to practice drawing up vaccines, administering vaccinations, counseling patients when they review the qualification questions or answering patients’ questions,” said Sarah Uroza, associate professor of pharmacy practice, who helps coordinate COP student vaccination efforts and data along with Justin Kirby, assistant professor of pharmacy practice.
“It also gave student pharmacists exposure to lots of different areas of pharmacy. They are getting to go into nursing homes, assisted living facilities, corporate offices and lots of other unique practice settings that they may not have an opportunity to see during pharmacy school,” she said.
With the Covid virus still active, students are expected to get the same experiences this year.
"With a new school year beginning just as the Delta variant is surging in Middle Tennessee, we expect Lipscomb's student pharmacists to be equally passionate about providing the vaccine over this school year,” said Uroza. “Lipscomb's chapter of APhA-ASP (American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists) works hard to make sure all our students know how they can help in administering vaccinations by completing a national certification course and providing a variety of immunization clinics all over Middle Tennessee for students to get practice while also helping to protect the community from these diseases.
“This health crisis has served to only strengthen the resolve of so many of our students as they pursue their studies in pharmacy," she said.
In 2020-21, Lipscomb pharmacy students and nursing students staffed two on-campus vaccine clinics, giving out 272 vaccinations. 100% of the pharmacy practice faculty participated in Covid vaccine events.
Sena Seged, a P4 from Hendersonville, Tennessee, is one student who volunteered her time and knowledge last school year at Nashville’s Siloam Health Clinic in Antioch.
“Siloam Health is a faith-based, nonprofit clinic that provides health care services to uninsured, underserved communities. It’s such a rewarding, emotional, and humbling experience being able to vaccinate the patients of Siloam,” explained Seged.
Starting out, Seged was a support volunteer who would screen patients before they received the vaccine. In this role, she would take temperatures, complete pre-screening paperwork, and translate Spanish for patients. Then she transitioned into a vaccine administration position. As a daughter of parents who have a high risk of Covid complications, Seged spent a lot of last year living in fear of the virus, she said. She knew she wanted to be a part of the solution. “Once the vaccines became available, I realized this is what I was
called to do, and there was so much opportunity for student pharmacists to participate,” said Seged.
Communication was the biggest lesson she learned through this opportunity—in more ways than one.
“A lot of the patients do not speak English as their first language. They are proud when they see someone who looks like them giving them the shot. I can tell they are more comfortable. They will go and tell their family members and encourage them to get vaccinated as well,” she said.
Olivia Garrett Fitts, a P4,has been volunteering at Sumner Regional Medical Center in Gallatin, Tennessee, administering vaccines since December 2020. She has been thrilled to be able to serve her community in this capacity during the pandemic, she said.
“I have learned how important it is to use your skills and talents to help others. I plan to incorporate volunteer work into my future career as a pharmacist,” said Garrett. “The vaccine clinics have been such a positive experience. Those who have received their vaccine are excited, reinvigorated and hopeful for the future. Overall, the supervisors, volunteers and patients are grateful for science!”
Michael Jennison from Mentor, Ohio, is a P3 student who has been administering vaccines as a volunteer at Sumner Regional Medical Center, HCA Healthcare, Christian Towers Assisted Living and PrimeCare Pharmacy since December.
“I got into health care because I wanted to have a career that allowed me to positively impact my community. There are a lot of opportunities to do this in health care. Going to school in the middle of a pandemic was the first time where I could make some kind of impact,” said Jennison.
“Most patients are excited to get the vaccine, especially when I volunteered in December and January. The last time I vaccinated in late March, I had more patients skeptical and asking more questions. Communication is the biggest skill you have to use. It seems that everyone is curious about the vaccine,” he said.
Daniel Parry (’21), a fourth-year pharmacy student pharmacist from Suwanee, Georgia, has worked as a volunteer in two clinics so far: Prime Care Pharmacy in Gallatin, Tennessee, and Mill’s Family Pharmacy in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where he mostly cared for elderly patients.
“Some were nervous. Mostly relieved, excited and hopeful,” he said of those seeking out the Covid vaccinations. “Many of the patients I saw at the one clinic were elderly and just wanted to be able to safely see their families and friends again. So many of them were thankful and couldn’t wait to get their second dose. Many people did this so they could better keep their families safe.”
“Pharmacists interact with patients on a daily basis. Therefore, we need to be able to effectively communicate medical information to people of all kinds of backgrounds. You never know exactly what questions a patient will ask or how they will react when they are getting a vaccine or medical advice,” Parry said. “Being adaptable, empathetic and mindful to those you are serving are traits a pharmacist will always need.”