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Nursing Faculty Committed to COVID-19 Vaccine Effort

January 2021
  • QCC Practical Nursing students prepared COVID-19 vaccines last month at the Southbridge Armory.
    QCC Practical Nursing students prepared COVID-19 vaccines last month at the Southbridge Armory.

Qunisigamond Community College's Nurse Education department is giving a real “shot in the arm” to UMass Memorial Medical Center by assisting in the COVID-19 vaccination of their employees. Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with their students, QCC nursing faculty have been setting an important example for their students by assisting in the massive vaccination process.

“The nursing program is strongly committed to helping out with the COVID-19 vaccine effort, particularly as a way to provide assistance to our long-term clinical partners, as well as, to allow the students to participate in a once-in-a-lifetime clinical experience,” said Patricia Creelman, professor of Nurse Education, clinical coordinator and chair of the program.

Ms. Creelman, a 20-year nursing faculty member, reached out to UMass Memorial to offer support in the vaccination process. The response was met enthusiastically.

“We knew that the vaccination process was to begin shortly after the New Year and the Advanced Placement/ Evening Nurse Education Program was to start their second course right after the New Year,” she said. “This fit beautifully into the curriculum for one of our courses and provided some much needed ‘hands-on’ clinical opportunities for our students.”

 Professor of Nurse Education Meredith Stone said the feedback from the nursing students has been positive.

“The students are very enthusiastic about being able to participate. In our program (Advanced Placement Nurse Education/ Evening Program) students are primarily already working in the healthcare field, as paramedics and licensed practical nurses, and our prior degree students often work as certified nursing assistants, so they have been working throughout the pandemic,” said Ms. Stone, a 12-year QCC faculty member. “I did not hear of anyone who was fearful to participate.  Most are happy to be able to contribute to ending this crisis.” 

Nursing Professor Ellen Vangel-Brousseau is also a vital resource for this vaccination initiative. Retiring in 2018 (as coordinator of the program) after close to 40 years educating QCC nursing students, she is still working as an adjunct faculty member. “The College and student populations are part of me,” she said.    

Ms. Vangel-Brousseau coordinates vaccination times with the students and helps in the clinics. She said she works closely with Karen Uttaro, UMass Memorial's senior director for professional practice, quality and regulatory readiness in this important college/community partnership. Nursing faculty Mary Ellen Tetreault and Susan Rosa also work at the clinics with students. In addition to assisting in the UMass vaccination process, Margaret “Meg” Yoder, professor of Nurse Education, and faculty member Christian Ilustre have assisted nursing students in administering COVID-19 vaccines to Harrington Hospital employees at the Southbridge Armory.

As the next phase in the vaccination process gets underway, QCC nursing students with continue be front and center helping out.

“We will be transitioning to the UMass Front Street facility location in a couple of weeks and the students will begin to start administering vaccines to the community,” Ms. Vangel-Brousseau said.  

Currently only the evening students are participating in the vaccination process; however, Ms. Creelman has reached out to the Department of Public Health to offer assistance.

“They are offering the COVID-19 vaccines to the public at the Worcester Senior Center.  We are negotiating the specifics so that our day students can start participating there over the next few weeks,” Ms. Creelman said. “The hope is to have all of our Associate Degree students participate in some aspect of the vaccine effort.” 

Make sure to check out next month's Wyvern Guardian to hear from our amazing nursing students.