Labouré Students Assist at Local COVID Vaccine Clinics
“March 2020 brought unanticipated changes to our world; life as we knew it stopped. What did not stop were our frontline workers who scrambled to not only make sense of what was happening, but also to care for those affected by the pandemic."
- Denise Edinger, MS, RN, Assistant Chairperson and Associate Professor of Nursing at Labouré College
Boston, MA. March 11, 2021 – One full year into the COVID-19 pandemic, nurses and healthcare workers around the world are hard at work administering vaccines, hoping to finally put a stop to the deadly virus. Nursing students have stepped up to help staff vaccination clinics and ensure proper post-vaccination monitoring and care for those who have received the vaccine. Students at Labouré College in Milton started working with Carney Hospital in Dorchester and Morton Hospital in Taunton to assist with vaccination clinics in December 2020.
“We wanted to get involved and help in this endeavor that would hopefully be the long-awaited light at the end of the proverbial tunnel,” said Denise Edinger, MS, RN, Assistant Chairperson and Associate Professor of Nursing at Labouré. “We were warmly welcomed by both Carney Hospital and Morton Hospital.”
“Labouré is grateful for our long-standing relationship with Steward Health Care,” said Labouré College President Lily S. Hsu, Ed.D. “The vaccination effort provided opportunities for our nursing students to learn at the side of experienced nurses while also feeling as though they are having an impact in fighting the pandemic.”
Students began assisting in the vaccine clinics in mid-December, with several even volunteering their time over the holidays and winter break. Many of the patients Labouré students worked with were included in Phase 2 of the vaccine rollout in Massachusetts, including other healthcare workers, first responders, high-risk individuals, and the elderly over age 75.
The student nurses took on a variety of roles at the clinics, from helping ensure smooth transitions from check-in to seeing the Registered Nurse who administered the vaccine, helping to explain the procedure, and monitoring and observing the patients for 15 minutes post-vaccination, helping to identify any potential but rare immediate reactions.
“It has been an amazing experience both for our nursing staff and for the students,” said Karen Ahearn, RN, MPA, NEA-BC, Interim President of Carney Hospital. “The students interacted very nicely with the people receiving the vaccines, calming any anxiety they had about side effects, and helping sanitize the areas in between people receiving the vaccines. They interacted with the nurses who were giving the vaccines – in some cases the students were able to draw up the vaccine, though they couldn’t administer it. They got some really great experience, and we enjoyed having them immensely.”
Morton Hospital’s Chief Nursing Officer Krystal Hilton, MSN, BSN, RN said, “The Labouré Nursing students have been integral in the success of our vaccination clinic at Morton Hospital. When we reached out, they were more than willing to step up and stand with us. Together, we have administered over 2,000 vaccinations to our employees, first responders and community healthcare workers. These dedicated students are the future of nursing, and I couldn’t be more proud.”
Student nurse Luke Carey, in his final semester in Labouré’s Associate of Science in Nursing program, said the pandemic has only strengthened his already intense passion toward nursing. “I’m looking forward to graduation this Spring so that my classmates and I will have the opportunity to continue to help fight this pandemic as Registered Nurses. Together we have been able to achieve such a great amount of positive change, during what has been such a dark time for many people all over the world.”
Tara Cardoza, another final semester Labouré student, spent time at both the Carney and Morton clinics and said both experiences have been excellent. Cardoza, who has been a medical assistant for more than 20 years, made the decision to go back to school to become a nurse a couple of years ago. “Finding the courage to go back to school as an older adult has its challenges. The biggest challenge in my life came a week after I received my acceptance letter from Labouré when I was diagnosed with cancer. Going through my treatments really was my eye opener on why I should keep truckin’ both through nursing school and this deadly pandemic.”
Cardoza recalled a moment from clinical she said she’ll never forget: “My clinical group and I were walking back from the cafeteria and there was a little boy with his mother holding a poster board. It said, “We love you grandma!” It was heartbreaking; they couldn’t come into the hospital to visit their loved one who was critically ill.”
For Cardoza and Carey, these moments are ones they aren’t likely to forget as they graduate, sit for their NCLEX exams, and become Registered Nurses all in the time of COVID. As the vaccine rollout continues across the state, Carey has hope for the light at the end of the tunnel.
“Seeing the positivity and optimism- not only among our classmates and other nursing students- but throughout the public and those who we have been vaccinating, I truly believe the future holds promise to be much brighter than the long months of this pandemic.”