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Boise State nursing students help deliver COVID-19 vaccines

Nursing student prepares to give a vaccine at Boise State COVID mass vaccination clinic, Extra Mile Arena, April 3, 2021
Nursing student prepares to give a vaccine at Boise State COVID mass vaccination clinic, Extra Mile Arena, April 3, 2021

Nurses care for us from birth to death, with preventive and critical care; they empathize with us when we are hurt or when one of our loved ones is ill. They demonstrate compassion as they tend to our medical and emotional needs. The COVID-19 pandemic has added new challenges to nurses personal and professional lives. With the emergency use authorization by the FDA of COVID-19 vaccines and expanding eligibility, the demand for more nurses to administer those vaccines increased exponentially. Boise State University nursing students have stepped up to help vaccinate their community.

Primary Health Medical Group hired approximately 40 nursing students on a temporary basis to help administer vaccines around the Treasure Valley. By early May, the students had administered more than 9,000 vaccinations at seven Primary Health clinics and at 12 weekend vaccine clinics. Two students, Lauren Zumba and Stefanie Kreibel, delivered vaccine doses to Idaho Governor Brad Little.

David Peterman, CEO of Primary Medical Group, said, “All of these nursing students were very well educated and, frankly, very well trained. I cannot tell you enough how reassuring, how professional the Boise State student nurses were. Our own nurses had been through a lot and to have the student nurses come in with their positive attitudes, their enthusiasm, and their professionalism, was of great, great support. At a time of need, like we’ve all gone through with the pandemic, to understand that the highly skilled, highly trained student nurses from Boise State would be available to help us is when we really understand the value of Boise State and how important they are to our community. I want to thank every one of those nurses for what they’ve done to help Primary Health, but more importantly, what they’ve done for our community.”

Other students gained clinical training hours at the Saint Alphonsus vaccine clinic and the Boise State campus vaccination clinic.

Natasha Copic, a Boise State nursing student who has volunteered at the Boise State vaccination clinic and during the April Boise State mass vaccination event, said, “When we live in a pandemic like this, it’s our job to step up, especially as students because we have that extra time, where nurses are overworked right now and having a hard time in the hospital. It’s a really great time for us to step up and kind of take some of that slack.”

“It is profoundly rewarding to volunteer at the Boise State Vaccination Clinic,” said Kayla Cocozzo, Boise State nursing student volunteer. “We have the chance to interact with diverse groups of people who either come in excited to get their COVID vaccine or come up to our stations visibly anxious. When someone is excited, you get to be excited with them. When someone is anxious, you get the opportunity to help someone feel safe and informed. It is an honor to be in a position where when someone is nervous, I get to step up, utilize therapeutic communication skills, provide them with information that is evidence-based, and answer any questions they may have. Any time someone comes to you for some kind of care, they are in a vulnerable position, and it is our job as nursing students and future RNs to do our very best to do right by our patients.”

Boise State, Central District Health and Ada County Paramedics held a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic on April 3 at ExtraMile Arena. More than 20 Boise State nursing students volunteered to deliver more than 800 doses of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines to Boise State students.

“I was able to create connections with so many people in such a short amount of time,” Copic said. “I spent only a couple minutes with each patient, but I learned so much about their lives and was able to relate to them more than I expected. I was also really glad that I was able to take time to talk to people who were more anxious about receiving their vaccine. To see the difference in people after showing them the compassion they needed is really powerful. It fills them with encouragement and it was special for me to be able to be that person for so many people.”