In an effort to support the community and gain invaluable experience, Western Nevada College’s nursing students are grasping the opportunity to assist in vaccinating residents at the Churchill County Fairgrounds as Churchill County rolls out its COVID-19 vaccinations.
Raylene Stiehl, WNC’s Fallon nursing lab instructor, explained that having the students participate helps increase the number of people who can receive their vaccinations in a timely manner.
In order for nursing students to participate in administering vaccines, students are trained in the classroom and practice in their lab. The students are tested for competency and their instructor is onsite whenever they are administering vaccinations.
“It’s a win-win all the way around for the students and the community,” Stiehl said.
The students gain experience and the county’s medical personnel are not spread so thinly as they try to administer the vaccination while still needing to attend to patients at doctor offices, health clinics and the hospital.
For several years, WNC’s nursing students have actively engaged in collaborating with Banner Churchill Hospital to assist in flu vaccination clinics but helping to administer the COVID-19 vaccine has provided more opportunities for students to develop their nursing abilities.
Ivy Kent, a first-year nursing student who has been participating in the vaccination events, noted that medication administration is a significant part of her training to become a nurse. The experience of administering intramuscular injections while being aware of the needs of the patients will make her and the other nursing students even more prepared once they enter the nursing workforce.
These real-life experiences also help the students develop competencies in critical thinking, time management, safety, detail attentiveness, effective paperwork review and accurate documentation. Stiehl indicated that the opportunity to interact with patients and get over the initial fear of interacting really helps them become more confident nurses.
“It provides a level of confidence when we get an opportunity to participate,” Kent said. “It’s been an awesome experience to be able to communicate with patients, learn how to take care of the vaccine and observe for reactions. More experience is always better.”
The fast-paced environment has also helped Kent practice good time management skills. Helping people and being able to connect with them are a couple of the reasons Kent decided to become a nurse, which makes her grateful for Stiehl and her quality instruction.
“Raylene has been fantastic,” Kent said. “We couldn’t have a better instructor who provides opportunities for us to get experience. I’m so grateful for this opportunity as a student, especially with COVID because it’s a vastly different year and to help the public get back to normal is really amazing.”
Stiehl expects that the students will continue to have more involvement as the semester continues and more rounds of the vaccine are available, so the Fallon community will continue to benefit from the efforts of WNC nursing students.
“It’s one more reason why this rural college is important,” Stiehl said. “We’re a resource for the community. The nursing students truly are an investment in the community.”