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UMass Medical School students team up to teach new SOM class to give COVID-19 shots

Interprofessional training part of a capstone project

By Colleen Locke and Bryan Goodchild

UMass Medical School Communications

August 20, 2021

The Vaccine Corps is expanding thanks to students in the School of Medicine and Graduate School of Nursing at UMass Medical School. On Tuesday, Aug. 10, a group of second-year medical students and nursing students trained the 162 new students in the School of Medicine Class of 2025 administer intramuscular injections, the type needed to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine.

“It’s day two and we have a clinical skill that we can go out into the community and help people and contribute to the overall health of the community, so it’s amazing. It’s a really cool opportunity,” said Alexander Lo, SOM ’25, who was attending orientation with his classmates.

Alex Richard, SOM ’24, and Benjamin Potee, SOM ’24, organized the training for their capstone project, with assistance from Melissa Fischer, MD, MEd, professor of medicine and associate dean for undergraduate medical education; Jorge Yarzebski, EMTP, FP-C, instructor in emergency medicine; and Jill Terrien, PhD, ANP-BC, associate professor of nursing and associate dean of interprofessional and community partnerships in the GSN. Richard said this is the first time an entire class was trained in one sitting.

“The training of medical students in IM injections earlier this year was crucial to the success and mission of the Vaccine Corps and offering this training to the entire first-year class will allow them to participate in continuing vaccine efforts in Worcester and Springfield,” Richard explained.

The Vaccine Corps is a UMass Medical School program managed by Commonwealth Medicine to bring COVID-19 vaccinations to where people need them the most. Chancellor Michael F. Collins and UMass President Marty Meehan pitched the idea of a corps in a Boston Globe editorial on Jan. 1.

After practicing on injection pads, the students injected saline into one another, with student and faculty trainers monitoring their progress and answering questions along the way. At the end of the session, students received vests and scrub tops with the Vaccine Corps logo and were given information about how to join the Vaccine Corps.

“I think it’s been really exciting to learn hands-on work in addition to meeting my new classmates,” said Courtney Chan, SOM ’25, sporting her new vest.

DNP student Paige Laperle, RN, was one of the trainers from the Graduate School of Nursing.

“I think it’s really cool that they can jump in and immediately make an impact on their community,” Laperle said. “We have some classes together. These types of programs enable us to build these relationships that we can then carry over into the clinic, so now I’m more comfortable working with doctors and residents and med students, too, when they come through my unit, and I think they’re more comfortable working with nurses.”

Other student trainers were: Mina Botros, SOM ’24; Brian Nickley, SOM ’24; Camila Hernandez, SOM ’24; and Helen Tsiagras, GSN. Michael P. Hirsh, MD, professor of surgery and pediatrics and assistant vice provost for wellness and health promotion, and James Ledwith, MD, assistant professor of family medicine & community health, also served as trainers.

Related stories on UMassMed News:
UMMS students bring COVID-19 vaccine to underserved downtown Worcester
UMass Medical School students among volunteers at opening of Worcester’s first large-scale vaccine site
UMass Medical School launches Vaccine Corps, backed by philanthropy, to support statewide vaccine rollout
We're building a vaccine corps of medical and nursing students – it could transform efforts to vaccinate underserved areas
UMass Medical School students ready to serve on COVID-19 vaccination front lines