UCA School of Nursing Students, Faculty Help to Stay COVID-19 Pandemic [North Metro Business Journal]

Sarah English hopes to work in the emergency department at a local hospital when she graduates from the University of Central Arkansas in May.

At present, the level IV nursing student continues to strengthen her patient interaction skills by participating in COVID-19 vaccination clinics in Conway.

“UCA has prepared us well to work with patients in all settings, and I’ve had the opportunity to help with UCA’s annual flu shot clinic in the past, so I was very comfortable working with patients, answering their questions and giving them information about side effects and scheduling theirsecond dose,” English said.

By the end of February, English had participated in two days of vaccination clinics for a total of about nine hours at Conway Regional Medical Center. She estimates that she administered vaccinations to 75 patients. English is among almost 120 students in the School of Nursing’s community health nursing course.

Between Jan. 26 and March 5, UCA School of Nursing students and faculty have administered nearly 6,000 vaccines and served more than 900 hours.

“The COVID vaccine has been long anticipated, and I’m grateful for the chance to be a small part of making history with the vaccine. Being able to help others protect themselves is part of the reason I wanted to become a nurse,” English said.

Four UCA instructors lead the community health nursing course: Leslie Blackwell, clinical instructor I; Annette Gartman, clinical instructor I; Laura Gillis, assistant professor; and Andrea Taylor- Garza, clinical instructor I. The community health nursing course focuses on nursing outside of the hospital setting and includes hospice, home health, public schools and a myriad of other areas, Gartman said.

Between Jan. 26 and March 5, UCA School of Nursing students and faculty have administered nearly 6,000 vaccines and served more than 900 hours.

Through this course, enrolled nursing students have been able to participate in vaccination clinics to earn needed patient contact hours. Students have worked at Conway Regional Medical Center and Baptist Health Medical Center-Conway.

“It’s been such a beautiful partnership between us and the hospitals because they’re getting the vaccine doses, and they’re getting all the clinics set up, and we just come in and be the manpower to actually enable them to give large numbers of doses in a short amount of time,” Gartman said.

Priya Gopal is a level IV nursing student with a minor in addiction studies. She vaccinatedat least 25 patients the day she volunteered at Conway Regional.

“I was nervous for the first couple of injections, but I kept the big picture in mind,” Gopal said. “I knew that I was part of something that was bigger than myself. I felt humbled to be a part of a monumental time in history.” Jasmine Allred tried to keep track of the patients she saw during her volunteer times. In performing vaccinations and educating patients, the time moves rapidly, Allred said.

“I was shocked about how many people would listen to me as I gave education, as I haven’t really gotten to do patient education much, but I gave knowledgeable information to each person about the vaccine and what they should expect,” Allred said.

Senior nursing student Hunter Cassidy vaccinated at least 30 patients during his time at Conway Regional. He hopes that students’ efforts will help to bring normalcy back to everyone’s lives.

“A couple of patients described [student volunteerism] as being hopeful, in a time where so much has changed and health care workers have been worked to the max, that we as students are stepping up to be the fresh new wave of workers to push back against the pandemic and work towards getting back to the way of life that we all loved before COVID-19,” Cassidy said.

UCA Integrated Health Sciences Building

Located at Western Avenue and Bruce Street, UCA’s new Integrated Health Sciences Building is scheduled to be open for the fall 2021 semester. The 80,000-square-foot, four-story facility will be home to the School of Nursing and the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, along with the Nabholz Center for Healthcare Simulation and Interprofessional Teaching Center to be used by the entire College of Health and Behavioral Sciences.

This article originally appeared in the April 2021 issue of the North Metro Business Journal.

A UCA nursing student hangs IV back in hospital room.

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