By Mary Watson Vergnolle | Reporter, Video by Grace Smith | Broadcast Reporter
Recently, students have commuted from the nursing campus in Dallas to Waco, volunteering to administer COVID-19 vaccines at sites such as McLane Stadium and the Waco Convention Center.
Baylor nursing students are discovering a new way to serve the Waco community this semester, all while gaining experience outside of the classroom. This opportunity has equipped nursing students with additional exposure to their future profession and has furthered the connection between the Waco community and the larger Baylor Family.
As of now, only people who meet either Phase 1A or 1B criteria are permitted to be vaccinated, according to the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District, and potential candidates are usually placed on a waitlist.
San Jose, Calif., senior Carolyn Fitzgerald said she was unsure of what the experience would be like prior to arriving at the site.
“I was kind of nervous, we didn’t really know what we were walking into or the volume of people,” Fitzgerald said. “I was super overwhelmed by how new this was, but everybody was so grateful to be there. Being able to open up the conversation around the vaccine and be open for questions from others was awesome.”
Many other nursing students saw the opportunity the same way, as a chance to return to Waco and connect with others, all while making history.
Fremont, Calif., senior Amanda Kosin said she loved being able to come back and serve the community and felt even more called to the nursing profession because of the experience she had volunteering.
“I was really excited because I felt like this was a part of history. When I went we gave out about 600 vaccines between all of us,” Kosin said. “Even to do it in Waco was even more exciting because it feels like home in a way. I am so glad that I got to be a part of that. It was a fun day and getting the opportunity to be in our own space gave me the reassurance that this is what I want to do.’”
Austin senior Anna Baumgartner described how the trust and enthusiasm that people had towards getting the vaccine made her job as a nurse that much easier.
“It was really cool to hear from some people how excited they were to get the vaccine,” Baumgartner said. “People trusted me, and that was the first time I really felt in charge of someone’s care. It was cool to be a part of something like this because it is very unprecedented.”
The nurses said they were able to feel the love from members of the Waco community, and emphasized that the organization of the process was something people admired.
“It functioned really smoothly, and people told us it was very well organized,” Baumgartner said.
Ultimately, because they were able to gain the experience of vaccine administration prior to graduation, the nurses said they feel they can go into their future careers better equipped .
“To actually be able to go to Waco in our scrubs and our white coat and be the nurses there and provide for this community is something I have never done,” Fitzgerald said. “I think it was just an awesome community experience and I love that they gave us as seniors this opportunity.”
The Louise Herrington School of Nursing plans on continuing to send students to administer vaccinations throughout the semester, furthering the conversation around the importance health and safety, all while serving the community.