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Nursing students volunteer at rural vaccination site



ARLINGTON, TX – A group of nursing students at The University of Texas in Arlington found an impactful way to give back to a rural community in need during the pandemic by volunteering to administer the COVID-19 vaccine.

These second-semester senior nursing students in the College of Nursing and Health Innovation (CONHI) drove over two hours to help a clinic in Fannin County give more than 1,300 doses of the vaccine earlier this semester.

“It seemed like a unique experience that I could participate in that would allow me to help the rural community receive its COVID vaccines and also give me an opportunity to have more hands-on experience with administering injections,” said Tara Gibson, one of the volunteers.

Several students earned clinical hours toward their degrees, but others volunteered to help because they wanted to give back to a rural community—in this case the Texas town of Honey Grove—and improve access to the vaccine.

A mixture of campus-based and accelerated online Bachelor of Science in Nursing students, they already were trained in administering injections and were given on-site training specific to the COVID vaccine. A clinical instructor supervised the team.

“This was a great opportunity to practice my nursing skills and grow in confidence,” said Brian Cisneros, a senior nursing student. “Being able to help vaccinate in this rural community has given me insight into how grateful everyone was while getting the vaccine.”

The students also visited with the clinic manager, learned about the process for setting up a vaccination clinic and met with the county judge who approved the clinic. The county altogether has a population of around 35,000 individuals.

Melynda Hutchings, the clinical assistant professor who coordinated the clinical experience for the students, said she hopes to have more opportunities for students to vaccinate in this rural community or others like it throughout the summer.

“Part of the reason I volunteered for the vaccination clinic was that I saw firsthand how much effort and how many people are needed to run a vaccination clinic,” said Kara Peacock, a nursing senior. “I felt that if there was a need and we were able to, then the least we could do was help.”