Pictured: NYITCOM-Arkansas students train to administer the COVID-19 vaccine.
Mass vaccination is the nation’s most powerful weapon against COVID-19. Yet, as states receive vaccine supply, concerns about shortages may shift from vials to manpower. To win the war on COVID-19, the United States will need an army of skilled vaccinators.
NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYITCOM) is training a corps and helping surrounding areas to meet the demand.
At the Long Island campus, training was held for both medical students and students from New York Tech’s Physician Assistant, M.S. program in the new Riland Institute for Clinical Competence (ICC), with COVID-19 safety protocols in effect. In January, over eight days, groups of 12 students were trained by Timothy Devine, simulation technology specialist, and Chris Coletti, simulation technician.
Students observed a video demonstration on the vaccine technique commonly known as the “Z-track method,” the injection method used for most intramuscular injections. Students also viewed and participated in demonstrations on patient consent, universal safety precautions, identifying the correct dosage, area of the arm, needle size, and monitoring patients with a pre-existing condition post-vaccination, among other critical points. Following the observations, students practiced the techniques using real needles, mannequin arms, and vials of simulated medication. They were then required to demonstrate their proficiency through a practical exam.
After eight days, a total of 542 students were trained. Several health care networks and hospitals have already contacted the medical school to request assistance in administering COVID-19 vaccines, including Nassau University Medical Center, Catholic Health Services of Long Island, and Maimonides Medical Center. While New York State is currently experiencing a shortage of vaccines, when supply is replenished, a trained army of New York Institute of Technology volunteers will be on standby, ready to assist with vaccination.
Students practice giving COVID-19 vaccines to mannequins at NYITCOM’s new Institute for Clinical Competence on the Long Island campus.
At the medical school's NYITCOM-Arkansas location, students observed both video and in-person instruction, similar to their Long Island counterparts. Under the guidance of clinical medicine faculty members, they practiced administering injections using silicone pads. All first- and second-year students (approximately 240) were trained in intermuscular injection by clinical medicine faculty and Academic Scholars on campus. Many third- and fourth-year students were also trained at the hospitals and clinics where they are completing their clinical rotations.
“Many of medical students have already been volunteering at vaccination events at partner hospitals, including St. Bernards in Jonesboro and Northwest Health in Springdale,” said Associate Dean and Assistant Professor Amanda Deel, D.O. “We’re also hopeful that we’ll be able to take the Delta Care-A-Van to rural areas and use students to administer vaccines in a few places throughout the region.”
On March 6, NYITCOM-Arkansas along with the City of Jonesboro, Craighead County, NEA Baptist, St. Bernards, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, and A-State will host a mass vaccination event at First National Bank Arena, on the campus of Arkansas State University.
In addition to the training provided by NYITCOM experts, students and faculty from the Nursing, B.S. program have also stepped up. Nursing student Maria Carpenter received training from the Nassau County Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), while Laboratory Technician Jennifer Lincks, A.N.P., a nurse practitioner, and Chair Lisa Sparacino, Ph.D., a registered nurse, are also vaccinating the public through the MRC.
“From my perspective, being a contributing member of your community is very important, and this was an opportunity to do exactly that,” said Nicole Wadsworth, D.O., dean of NYITCOM. “Our students are always looking for ways to be involved and give back, and this was and will be a perfect volunteer experience for them. Lastly, this is a unique opportunity to play an important role during the pandemic.”