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Nursing Students Afforded A Once In A Lifetime Experience

February, 2021
  • QCC nursing students from left: René Latino, Paramita Pal Roy and Angela Yarborough.
    QCC nursing students from left: René Latino, Paramita Pal Roy and Angela Yarborough.

QCC nursing students are now an official part of history – a history that is expected to change the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic. The students recently took part in the COVID-19 vaccination process for healthcare workers at UMass Memorial Medical Center’s COVID-19 vaccine clinic. This is not the first foray into nursing for most of these students, yet all say they have gained valuable lifelong skills they will take with them in their nursing careers.

QCC nursing student Luisa Contreras is one such student who has taken part in the vaccination process.

“I was incredibly excited when we were informed that we'd be involved in the administration of COVID-19 vaccines. I never imagined that as a nursing student we would be able to help out in such a tremendous way,” Ms. Contreras said. “This is such an important step to begin to regain some normalcy and I feel so lucky to have been involved. I am so grateful to both the staff at QCC and UMass for setting this up and providing us with tremendous opportunity. “

Ms. Contreras came to QCC after earning her Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) from Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School in 2017. She is on track to receive her Associate Degree in Nursing, December 2021, and plans to continue her education.

“The professors at QCC are absolutely wonderful and super supportive. This past year, we've seen just how important nurses are and we definitely need more of us out there. From my experience, QCC has set up a fantastic learning environment for their nursing students to succeed,” Ms. Contrera said.  “I think that with everything that’s happened this past year, we’ve seen just how much the health care world is constantly changing and evolving. So who knows, maybe my future lies in something that has yet to be fully developed.”

Nursing student Angela Yarborough said being a part of the COVID-19 vaccination process was a “wonderful” experience. A seasoned nurse who was a graduate of the first LPN class of QCC in 2000, Ms. Yarborough came back to QCC to further her nursing education after her daughter went off to college. At UMass she helped vaccinate nurses, doctors, and other hospital staff with their second vaccination.

“We would say ‘congratulations’ after giving someone their second vaccination. They would hold up their vaccination card with pride. One woman mentioned how she hopes that getting the vaccine is going to allow her to be able to finally see her parents once they are vaccinated without fear of getting them ill,  she said, adding, “It was exciting to be a part of this initiative. It was a very rewarding experience. I am thankful to Professor Ellen Vangel-Brousseau for coordinating our participation with the UMass vaccine clinic.”

Ms. Yarborough anticipates earning her degree in December 2021 and plans to take a couple of courses at a time to reach her next goal  - attending the RN to BS program that QCC offers with Worcester State University. She currently works in home health care and is excited to see what opportunities the future holds after she earns her degree.

“When I decided to begin my journey to return to school to become a registered nurse, I was able to take a couple classes a semester to complete my prerequisites. This allowed me to still work, while I furthered my education,” she said. “I have met so many peers at different stages of their nursing journey who have inspired me. QCC offers both day and night nursing programs that make it possible to continue your education with a schedule that still allows you to work and take care of family needs.”

For nursing student Paramita Pal Roy, doing her clinical at UMass Memorial’s vaccine clinic was a bit of a happy coincidence, as she had been a volunteer in the hospital’s cardiac ICU family waiting room before attending QCC.

Before coming to the U.S., Ms. Pal Roy was an ICU nurse who had to give up her career due to family commitments. Once she came to the U.S., she began to rethink her nursing career and started researching nursing programs. She discovered that not only did QCC have an impressive nursing program; it was also affordable. She began in the College’s LPN program and graduated last year. Currently she is in the bridging program to graduate as an RN.

“Since last year, COVID-19 has changed our lives in many ways. As nursing students, we needed that hands-on experience. I am thankful to my college and UMass for providing me with the opportunity to be a part of this vaccination process. It feels great to be part of the COVID-19 vaccination team,” she said. “The whole process was organized meticulously, maintaining all safety protocols was always the priority. I was very excited and fortunate at the same time to be a part of this program. I look forward to being in the vaccination clinic in the near future.”

She said the recent experience in the vaccine clinic will add value to her nursing career, and is looking forward to finishing the RN program later this year and take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) for her RN license.

“QCC has a great nursing program,” she said. “I am fortunate that QCC has the best nurse education faculty. Due to this well-structured program, QCC has an impressive NCLEX pass rate. I will always recommend QCC’s nursing program.”

As an alumna of QCC’s PN program, Jedda Richardson decided to return to QCC for its Nurse Education Program to enhance her skills and qualifications for more job opportunities. She said participating in the vaccine clinic was a great experience.

“I felt like I was involved in a positive change to overcome this pandemic and felt like I was making a difference within our community,” she said, adding “The professors (at QCC) are great and very compassionate about teaching the next generation of nursing students. They really prepare students for real life experience within the nursing field.” 

Ms. Richardson anticipates graduating in 2022 and plans to work in critical care within the nursing field.

For nursing student René Latino, nursing called to her after she earned a four-year degree in communications.

“I have a lot of nurses in my family and I think it's really amazing how much they care about other people. I would say the biggest thing that pulled me into nursing is my desire to take care of those who can't take care of themselves or for those who just need help,” she said.

Ms. Latino was able to enroll in the accelerated nursing program at QCC because she already had a bachelor’s degree.

“QCC was the best choice because of the program, the great reviews, and the location,” she said.

QCC’s nursing program also gave her the opportunity to take part in the COVID-19 vaccine clinic, an experience she described as “amazing.”

“It was great to be able to be a part of something in the community. I really felt like we were making a difference in this step to stop this virus, which has created such a change and sadness in our world. I'm very thankful that UMass gave us the opportunity to be a part of the initiative and I really hope that I get to do it again in the future.” 

Ms. Latino is expected to graduate from QCC in December 2021 and is hoping to work in some type of a hospital setting, where she can feel she is making a difference in the lives of patients.

“For anyone considering enrolling in QCC's nursing program, I think it's a great choice. The professors are awesome and they're so compassionate about what they do. I started this program in September of last year and I can't believe how much I've already learned. I've heard from so many people that QCC has a great nursing program and I'm really seeing that for myself,” she said.

Visit QCC Nursing to learn more.

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