During their spring break between March 1 to 5, demonstrating their commitment to health care and the welfare of others, a group of Broward College nursing students volunteered to assist at various vaccination sites across Broward County. The 11 students had the opportunity to work alongside nurses administering the COVID-19 vaccines. Among them was Broward College Nursing Club President Robert Limas, who is currently on the path towards his associate degree in Nursing.

Florida began to provide vaccination to specific individuals in December 2020, mainly administering to people 65 and older and frontline health care workers. By March, the state expanded the list of people eligible for the vaccines to include law enforcement and fire personnel and persons with underlying conditions. As the number of sites and people eligible for the vaccine grew, there was also a growing need for health care personnel. This allowed the nursing students an incredible opportunity to hone their skills.

On the Path to the Frontlines

For many nursing students across the country, the pandemic put a halt to their clinical training. At Broward College, the program was forced, like many others, to transition to remote learning. 

However, the faculty and staff were able to get back on track and figure out a way to guarantee the students wouldn't fall too far behind as they continued to work on their education during the pandemic.

"The faculty and staff are all very helpful and determined to keep us on track despite all the challenges presented by the pandemic," says Robert. "We are actually able to count the COVID vaccinations as part of our real clinical experience, which is amazing."

For some, the experience was the first time in six months they were getting in-person patient interactions since they have been working in virtual labs and using simulation over the past few months.

Making History

During the spring break, the students worked ten-hour shifts at various locations throughout Broward, assisting nurses administering the vaccine. As students, they were only allowed to administer the medication while the nurses took care of the additional steps.

"There are several steps. It's not just grabbing the needle and going, so it's a process, and it takes time to get through it all, from getting the person's information and such to administering the vaccine," explains Robert. "Also, what many people may not be aware of is how critical it is to deliver the medication on time since it has a shelf-life of six hours to be administered once it's out."

The experience allowed the students to practice primarily their application technique as well as real-life patient interactions. "It was an incredible experience, and it felt important because you could feel how much they needed help to alleviate the workload on the nurses at the site," he adds. Robert was tasked with delivering from 60 to 75 doses during each shift.

"I think this was a perfect way to be in the forefront of our field during such a crucial time, and I'm so thankful I was able to participate and be a part of this. It wasn't just about practicing what I learned in the classroom. It was also about making a difference in the community," he says.
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