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ADA – As community-wide Covid-19 vaccination efforts continue, East Central University’s Nursing students are finally gaining some valuable field experience that the pandemic has denied them for the past year.

“The vaccination events have turned out to be a great learning opportunity for our students,” said Dr. Darcy Duncan, director of ECU’s Nursing program. “It truly is an excellent experience for them to participate alongside fellow students and the local health care community.”

ECU Nursing students have assisted with local vaccinations since January. On March 11, they worked a vaccination event at the Irving Community Center. The site was provided by the City of Ada and ECU students worked alongside LPN students from the Pontotoc Technology Center. Other partners included Mercy EMS, Mercy Ada Nursing Leaders, and students in the Mercy Ada School of Medical Technology program. In all, about 50 people volunteered to make the event a success.

“We are thankful for our health care, professional and educational partnerships within the Ada community and beyond,” Duncan said. “With their help, we can find ways for our students to step out of their comfort zones, to grow, and to learn what they are truly capable of. Getting involved like this, they can see the power of hope and compassion when caring for others.” 

Prior to vaccination efforts, the pandemic was more of an obstacle to hands-on learning for ECU’s Nursing students. Now, the vaccinations are not only helping protect the community, they have also facilitated a return to field work – critical for any Nursing program.

“Covid has had a negative impact on our learning opportunities, which is counter to a situation where the need for caring is so great,” said Elise Harden, a returning ECU graduate from Dickson, who is now a junior in the Nursing program. “We’re now learning to constantly adapt to the most current understandings regarding the life-long impact of Covid-19, how it has affected so many families and individuals, both physically and emotionally.”

Approximately 20 ECU Nursing students assisted at the March 11 vaccination event, and many others have worked at previous organized events. Despite the inherent risks and chaotic nature of the pandemic, students have no regrets about their career choices.

“I have had an amazing experience,” said Ajita Khatry, an international Nursing student and junior from Nepal. “I have learned the process of how the vaccine is administered. We had the opportunity to work with Pontotoc Technology Center’s LPN students and they were so helpful to us. It helped us to build our confidence levels in providing care during the pandemic.”

“Each vaccination event represents a victory for science and health care,” said Jessee Holman, a senior ECU Nursing student from Seminole. “Throughout the last year, there have been many unknowns. But the perseverance and determination of our Nursing program has shown through. I will certainly never forget what it was like to be a Nursing student during a pandemic, and I am thankful to have opportunities to volunteer and serve in this time of need.”

Cutline: ECU Nursing students and faculty pose outside the Irving Community Center in Ada, where they worked alongside Pontotoc Technology Center students and members of the local health care community to administer Covid vaccinations on March 11.


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