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College of Nursing Hosts Second Annual Flu Clinic

November 10, 2015 — 

“Okay, you’re going to feel a little pinch.”

For the price of just a moment’s discomfort, each patient who heard those words at the College of Nursing Flu Clinic this week got to cuddle Romeo the dog, enjoy a piece or two of candy, and most of all, received free immunization with the annual flu vaccine.

“It’s going so much better than expected,” said Emmanuel Hernandez, a fourth-year nursing student who coordinated the event along with classmate Miranda Huppe. “On the first day we did 196 patients.”

Vaccinating that many patients on a walk-in basis could easily have become chaos—Hernandez admits he had a hard time getting to sleep the night before they opened their doors. He needn’t have worried. He and Huppe had planned everything down to the last Band-Aid and lines were kept moving quickly and painlessly through the vaccination stations. By the end of the five-day event they tripled their 2014 total of 220, vaccinating 802 students, staff and faculty.

While that may not seem like a big deal for a disease many think of as just an inconvenience, the fact is that flu claims 3,000 lives and causes 10,000 hospitalizations in Canada each year. By offering free vaccinations, the College of Nursing is doing its part at preventing the spread of influenza. But the bigger picture is that the clinic also serves an additional purpose—helping train the next generation of nursing professionals.

“Organizing this clinic meant taking on a leadership role in logistics,” explains Huppe, student co-organizer. Along with Hernandez, she worked with both the College of Pharmacy and College of Medicine to acquire the vaccine and to manage the many details that go into staging a full immunization clinic. “It gives you a very different experience of nursing,” she adds. “We’re normally in the hospital, not necessarily out in the community.”

For Hernandez, the level of interaction he experienced with future colleagues is an important part of getting ready for life after university. “In the Faculty of Health Sciences, all of us are working together,” he says. “In the real world setting, that’s how we work as healthcare professionals. We’re meant to help each other. It’s good to learn this now while we’re students.”

Of course, when you come right down to it, the real point of an immunization clinic is the shot itself. Even when patients come in with reservations, like a fear of getting a shot or misinformation about side-effects, each student nurse is trained to answer questions and talk through each concern like a pro. Before you know it, even the biggest fraidy-cat is enjoying a bite of candy and wondering what all the fuss was about.

“It’s been a really good learning experience for all of us,” says Huppe. “We’re so grateful for everyone who has come in to be vaccinated.”

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