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Rounds with Leadership: Collaboration, Community Engagement, and a Cure

Published February 24, 2021

Welcome to Rounds with Leadership, a forum for AACN’s Board Chair and President/CEO to offer commentary on issues and trends impacting academic nursing.

February 24, 2021 - Collaboration, Community Engagement, and a Cure

From the earliest days of the pandemic, nurses have emerged as indispensable in the fight against COVID-19. As frontline care providers, community education leaders, public health innovators, researchers on the hunt for new evidence, and in countless other roles, nurses are always there advocating for individual patients and working to keep communities safe.

With great anticipation, this year holds promises for an end to the pandemic with the arrival of new vaccines and therapeutics to combat COVID-19. AACN is working directly with federal leaders to help quantify the impact of nursing faculty and students on vaccination efforts while making the case that strengthening these efforts is essential to meeting the Biden Administration’s goals for a stronger national strategy.

Launched on January 19, AACN has initiated a campaign to gather pledges from nursing schools to safely engage faculty and students in dispensing the COVID-19 vaccine. We encourage all member schools to sign on to this initiative and let us know what your school is doing to help expand vaccine delivery. More than 320 schools have pledged to support this effort and have shared exemplars of their work to administer the vaccine and stop the spread of the virus.  

Data collected through this campaign show that, to date, nursing school faculty and students have administered more than 200,000 doses of the vaccine. In addition to serving as role models in helping the public confront vaccine hesitancy, AACN member schools are initiating community-based education campaigns, providing telehealth services, conducting contact tracing, and offering other key services. This good work has caught the attention of the national news media, including recent stories in the New York Times, USA Today, and NBC News.

As part of this initiative, AACN is collecting updates from schools on what they are doing to prepare more nurses to administer the vaccine.  Some examples include:

  • In early January, 13 graduate students from the school of nursing at the University of Massachusetts Medical School taught more than 150 medical students to give intramuscular injections. The training has prepared these students to inoculate city residents, as well as people from six local communities, with the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • At Samford University in Alabama, upper-level nursing students who have received training to administer the shot are serving as Ascension Health employees and staffing community clinics where the vaccine is being dispensed.  Eight undergraduate faculty members also are volunteering to assist with this effort.
  • In Idaho, Primary Health Medical Group has partnered with Boise State University to engage student nurses in efforts to quickly expand COVID-19 vaccination services across the state’s Treasure Valley. Each student previously completed injection training as part of their regular education andreceived the same comprehensive training given to all Primary Health staff.
  • In a drive to vaccinate communities throughout the Southern Nevada Health District, nursing and medical students from the University of Nevada Las Vegas  are working with nursing students from Roseman University of Health Sciences, Touro University, the College of Southern Nevada, and Nevada State College to administer the COVID-19 vaccine. Students are not getting paid, but many are earning required clinical hours for their academic programs. Some are staying on for additional hours purely as volunteers.

As a complement to the pledge campaign, AACN joined with the National League for Nursing to issue a joint statement on February 8 titled Vaccinating America Against COVID-19. In this statement, the nation’s two leading organizations representing nursing education outline how they will work together to advocate for the resources needed to ensure that faculty and students are well-prepared to administer vaccines and effectively deployed to protect local communities and vulnerable populations from this public health threat.

AACN and NLN are inviting other organizations working to advance nursing education to augment federal, state, and local efforts to combat COVID-19. Together, we can help mobilize resources and maximize our impact on creating a healthier nation.

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