Nursing Students Step Up to Volunteer at Flu Vaccination Clinics

Nursing students holding signs at flu clinic.

Earlier this semester, Erie County Commissioner of Health Gale Burstein approached UB leadership with a request for student volunteers to work at local flu vaccination clinics. 

Given demanding course loads, the additional stress of COVID-19 factors and holiday timing, School of Nursing faculty weren’t sure what kind of response to expect.

But, as always, our nursing students stepped up.

“We offered it to seniors as part of their clinical hours and extended it to any juniors who were interested,” Donna Fabry, pre-licensure programs coordinator, says. “We were worried we wouldn’t have enough student volunteers, but we actually ended up with more than we needed.”

Between Nov. 4 and Nov. 25, 34 UB School of Nursing students were placed at flu vaccination clinics including West Hertel Academy, Salvation Army, International Preparatory School At Grover and Cheektowaga Senior Center. They were accompanied by eight graduate assistants and four faculty members, including Donna Fabry, Gale Klinshaw, Michele McKay and Joann Sands.

“It’s so fulfilling to watch students not only grow in their skills, but in their confidence,” Fabry says. “Volunteering teaches students to work with interdisciplinary health care teams and exposes them to social disparities in health care.”

Kelly Forster, a current ABS student and one of the student volunteers, agrees.

“Volunteering at the flu clinic helped me connect with the community surrounding UB and allowed me to gain a better understanding of the health care needs of Buffalo residents,” Forster says. “I greatly appreciated this opportunity and would do it again in a heartbeat!”

The volunteer opportunity comes at a crucial time, as the nation continues to face widespread public health challenges.

“We are so proud of the commitment of our undergraduate nursing students,” Cathy Mann, assistant dean for undergraduate studies, says. “The importance of vaccinations in both health care professionals and the general public has never been higher. As more people are vaccinated for the flu this season, the less likely that those people will have the flu. This will not only help to protect their health, but also help reduce demands on the already overtaxed health care system as we continue to face the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Story by Grace Gerass

Published December 15, 2020