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UCA nursing students giving COVID-19 boosters, flu shots to campus staff

UCA held a shot clinic offering flu shots and COVID-19 boosters to faculty and staff by their nursing students.

CONWAY, Ark — Vaccine clinics aren't new to different college campuses around the state, and at UCA they were offering flu shots and COVID-19 boosters to faculty and staff by their nursing students.

Rebecca Gray is a clinical instructor and nurse practitioner in the Interprofessional Teaching Center at the college campus. She assisted and supported the student nurses for their clinic. 

"They are volunteering to serve the faculty and staff here at UCA to administer the flu vaccine and COVID booster. Just trying to do our part to keep our campus community safe," said Gray. 

Students are usually given the opportunity to administer flu shots as a part of gained experience in the program. 

Gray said there were a total of 16 student nurses who administered shots.

It was the first time giving shots for senior nursing major, Emily Vandervate. 

She was nervous with her first few patients, but over time she gained confidence. It helps that faculty and staff were encouraging. She wants to focus on hands-on patient care as an RN with future goals of working in a labor and delivery unit. 

She said she still has time to decide because some days she's not sure what path nursing will take her on. 

"It kind of just hits you differently sometimes. Like, when you're giving vaccines you're just like, I'm just giving a shot, but then in the big picture, you're kind of like, well I'm making a difference," said Vandervate. 

Kylie Smothers is another senior nursing major. 

Her hope is to work at Arkansas Children's with the future of nursing being in a much better place. 

There's been a nursing shortage around the state during the spikes of COVID-19 cases across the state. 

"When we see COVID and stuff it's all over the news and it's all political, but it really is detrimental to people. So, when they put us as students into positions where we're allowed to give the COVID vaccines it's really a big deal," said Smothers. 

She said it's weird thinking about being a nursing major going through a pandemic. 

"Ten years from now it's like 'Wow, I went through a pandemic.' So it's going to be a story to tell and we're definitely here right now impacting lives and we're going to be able to tell people that we were a part of it," said Smothers.

Randy Pastor is the medical director for the UCA.

He said there's a focus on health awareness for the campus. 

"We've thought about safety from the beginning, and we've built up a real good culture that addresses safe and best practices for COVID-19," said Pastor.