Experience of volunteer medical students assisting in the healthcare worker influenza vaccine program at a tertiary hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic
Keywords:medical student, medical education, pandemic, immunisation, influenza, COVID-19
Introduction: For a more rapid rollout of staff influenza vaccination, medical student assistance with a vaccination program was sought during a time when the healthcare workforce was facing unprecedented pressures. This study explored the experience of both the students and supervising nursing staff involved.
Innovation: Volunteer medical students were recruited to assist nurse immunisers in a staff influenza vaccination program. The education of medical students involved three components: an online educational session, written and video resources and direct supervision by trained nursing staff.
Evaluation and outcomes: Qualitative data was collected from online surveys completed by medical students and structured interviews conducted with students and supervising nursing staff. The interviews underwent thematic analysis. Seventy-four percent (17/23) of medical students completed the survey. Three students and two supervising nurses completed interviews. Ninety-four percent of students strongly agreed they were confident in performing intramuscular injections after participating in the program compared with only 12% prior to participation. The interviews identified that medical students were motivated by gaining clinical experience, feeling useful during the pandemic and an altruistic desire to assist the healthcare workforce. Nursing staff displayed some initial hesitation working with medical students, which was alleviated after their competence was demonstrated.
What’s next? Clinical opportunities that allow medical students to learn or refine skills, whilst also assisting in areas of need, serve a dual purpose in the setting of the pandemic. This program highlights the benefits to students of participating in a staff vaccination program and provides evidence for their involvement in the ongoing rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in Australia.
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