By Stephanie Wallace
Nurses all over the world have been on the frontlines trying to combat the deadly COVID-19 virus while also keeping themselves safe. The nursing department at JJC is doing their part in helping get the community back to normal.
“Through a collaboration with the Will County Health Department, students and faculty in the Joliet Junior College nursing department have been volunteering their time vaccinating residents,” Scott Harvey, communications and media coordinator, said.
The students have been able to work alongside respected supervising professors Mary Magruder, Dr. Sharon Valentino and Dr. Julio Santiago.
Susan Batis, nursing professor, speaks on the confidence that she is witnessing within her students.
“These volunteer clinics not only give them experience with the skill, but also communicating with the patient,” Batis said.
Valentino commends the students within the nursing department and understands the difficulties that come along with monitoring the pandemic so closely. With nursing typically being the only ones standing by ill patients, it is up to nurses to stay calm and collected.
“Historically, nurses provide care and help people and their families cope with illness,” Valentino said. “Nurses are on the front line of the healthcare field no matter what the illness or pandemic, and nurses have always been at the forefront of change in health care and public health.”
Students are taking the opportunity to take what they are learning in the classroom and putting it into practice in real-life situations. It is important for students to not only pick up on written course material, but also be able to transfer that knowledge into everyday life.
“The professors in my nursing program have really prepared me to care for the people in my community,” Laura Myers, student, said. “They prepared me by making sure I understood how important it is to communicate and interact with the patient.”
Like many classes, the nursing department has had to make due with moving to remote learning and that can make it difficult for students to be able to receive the full experience and really immerse themselves into their learning environment. But the department is doing everything they can in order to make sure that the future nurses have all the tools they need to be ]successful.
“Participation in these vaccination clinics allows our nursing students to use their skills to be part of the solution to this global pandemic. They are gaining first hand experience at meeting the need of a community, which is a critical component of nursing,” Valentino said.
With more people now able to receive the vaccine, there comes more skepticism about the safety and effectiveness. A nurses job is not only to administer medication, but also to help the patient afterward and reassure them that modern medical practices are nothing to be concerned about.
“Data from large clinical trials shows promising safety and efficacy of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines,” Valentino said. “The FDA and the CDC have vaccine monitoring systems, which adds an additional layer of safety monitoring and allows for information to be collected in real time.”
The department continues to work with the Will County Health Department (WCHD) as long as there is still a need for vaccines. Nursing student Kerry Bard says that there is a “light at the end of the tunnel” and believes that she is doing her parting in helping things get back to normal.
“I personally think it’s been an amazing experience being able to be part of the vaccination program with the WCHD,” Bard said. “Every person getting the vaccination has been so thankful!”
Both the students and the professors are proud to be a part of efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19. Valentino emphasizes the idea of community and making sure that the students are prepared to help in any way that they can.
Student Don Florante is happy to be able to play a part in the process.
“It makes you want to do more to help, and every clinic comes with a deep satisfaction that you somehow played your part, even as a student,” Florante said.