Wilkes University Students Working to Combat COVID

by Web Services

Students from the Nesbitt School of Pharmacy and the Passan School of Nursing are working to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on campus and in the community.

Wilkes University students pursuing health care professions had an unexpected learning experience as COVID-19 spread around the world. Observing a pandemic unfold in real time, they are taking what they have learned at Wilkes to combat the virus and make an impact on campus and in the greater community.

Watch the report on WNEP: These students are getting real-world health care experience fighting COVID-19

Nesbitt School of Pharmacy
The Nesbitt School of Pharmacy recently concluded training for 167 students to administer the COVID-19 vaccine. That means more than 250 students and faculty in the Nesbitt School are trained to vaccinate members of the community. They have deployed over 7,000 vaccines at 60 pharmacies, health centers and long-term care sites in northeast and eastern Pennsylvania.

Pharmacy student Nicole Hughes, from Olyphant, Pa., writes, “After vaccinating a patient, I noticed that she was fighting back tears. When I asked the patient if she was okay, she broke down, stating they were tears of relief as she just recently had a family member pass away from COVID-19… This was just another reminder that I am in the field that I was meant to be in.”

Training for pharmacy students includes 20 hours of certification training specifically in immunizations and vaccinate administration. While undergoing training, Wilkes students observed vaccination deployments while aiding in patient intake, preparing doses and scheduling and educating patients.

Geisinger Health; Cook’s Pharmacy in Kingston, Pa.; Alberts Pharmacy in Pittston, Pa. and Hartzell’s Pharmacy in the Lehigh Valley, owned by two Nesbitt School alumni, are places where Wilkes students are applying learned concepts to real-life situations.

To date, pharmacy student Catherine Tuman, of Lake Ariel, Pa., has administered over 700 vaccines alone.

“I was vaccinating a woman and noticed it was her birthday so I wished her a happy one. She grabbed my hands and told me I gave her the best birthday gift of her life. ‘You saved my life on me birthday.’ We were both crying,” reflected Tuman.

Passan School of Nursing
Junior nursing student, Eric Schramm, of Mountain Top, Pa., began his clinical experience in the fall working in real health-care situations and putting his education to practice.

“For the first time, covered in a mask, goggles and face shield, I interacted with real-life patients. I gave injections; I did head to toe assessments; I administered medications. It was the first time I truly felt like a nurse and I became an active member in the healthcare community,” said Schramm.

It was these experiences that motivated Schramm to volunteer in the community. Like many of his fellow nursing students, he has been administering the vaccine at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital while assisting with COVID-19 testing on campus.

“Through these encounters, I gained experience and cultivated the skills that I learned in my first two years of school. I interacted with patients of all different age groups and backgrounds and I communicated with other healthcare workers: MDs, RNs, and CNAs. Additionally, I witnessed the work ethic, skill and perseverance demonstrated by the frontline workers during these unprecedented times. I am thankful that Wilkes University has given me these opportunities to help me reach my future goals.”

Students from the Passan School of Nursing continue to work at local hospitals and health care sites, providing care to a variety of patients. They are also assisting with COVID-19 testing on campus. The students were trained in antigen/rapid tests that were administered in the McHale Athletic Center for nearly 600 faculty and staff members returning to campus in January. An ambitious assurance testing program, designed to identify asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 within the campus community, tests over 200 members of the campus community each week.

In the fall, nursing students also conducted roving temperature checks around campus to continue to promote the importance of diligent health and symptom monitoring.

“The pandemic has created an unprecedented need here and in the community. From identifying and diagnosing COVID-19 to administering the vaccination that will bring us back to health and normalcy, Wilkes students are helping every step of the way,” said Greg Cant. “I want to thank them along with the faculty and staff from the Passan School of Nursing and the Nesbitt School of Pharmacy. We are proud and we are grateful.” 

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