08:30 AM

Nursing students, instructors help with COVID-19 vaccination effort

Vaccine Clinic Amber 2

Several Waukesha County Technical College Nursing students – some who are currently participating in clinical rotations and others who are members of the Nursing Club -- are part of a unique opportunity unlike any group of Nursing students before them. They have volunteered to help with the COVID-19 vaccination effort.

For spring term 1 (Jan. 14 through March 18), more than 115 Nursing students worked with healthcare partners ProHealth Care and Aurora Health Care at vaccine clinics in Milwaukee, Summit and Waukesha. The student nurses have been checking-in patients and taking health histories, administering vaccines, providing educational resources, monitoring patients for possible reactions, easing patients’ fears, filling out immunization cards, organizing supplies among other tasks. New groups of students will continue to assist during spring term 2, which begins March 22.

Opportunity for Community Involvement

Colleen Nuckolls, WCTC’s associate dean of Nursing, said for students to be involved with the vaccine clinics has been a terrific experience as it augments their clinical training. It shows them first-hand the impact they can have on a community, and it allows the College to work closely with its healthcare partners.

“This is giving students that opportunity to feel like they did something good in the community, so we’re trying to look at it as more of a global community perspective,” Nuckolls said. “I think it shows them, very quickly, what kind of difference they can make as nurses.”

Clinical nursing instructors Jodi Wiebelhaus and Amber Grant, who took students to ProHealth Care and Aurora sites, respectively, said this historic opportunity to participate in vaccine clinics gives student nurses real-life experience in working with patients on a larger scale. They are learning about the numerous aspects of what goes into holding a successful clinic, and they are getting to interact with a variety of patients and healthcare providers, among them medical assistants, pharmacists, administrators and others.

“Everyone was so open to teaching and talking about their role and the impacts of Covid-19 on their unit,” Grant said.

Reinforcing Nursing Skills

Additionally, it is reinforcing nursing skill sets in practical applications and related areas. “The interactions [students] had with patients allowed them to practice and strengthen their communication skills, which is so important in nursing,” Wiebelhaus stressed.

For Nursing student Kristina Rohloff, who is in her second semester of clinicals and helped at a vaccine site in Waukesha, what she learned in her WCTC courses trained her well for this volunteer opportunity.

“Every single class and clinical came together to prepare me for this experience,” Rohloff said. “You need knowledge of where to place a shot (anatomy), knowledge of what a vaccination is as well as [what it] does to the body (microbiology), practice and knowledge of how to give the shot safely and correctly (nursing skills/fundamentals), experience in giving a shot (clinicals), and knowledge of care across a lifespan and promotion of being healthy (health promotions/clinicals).”

Helping Others Return to Normal Life

Nursing student Paula Wadsworth, who assisted at a clinic in Waukesha, said the experience was an uplifting one in that it’s helping people get one-step closer to their prepandemic lives.

“Everyone was so excited and grateful to get vaccinated,” Wadsworth said. “For many of these people, they haven’t seen their family in over a year now and getting vaccinated is re-opening those doors that we had to close.”

Assisting at a vaccine clinic in Summit helped Nursing student Rosemary Meyer hone her hard and soft skills – both critical in the healthcare field.

“We were able to practice the art of listening and addressing concerns. It was also a wonderful opportunity to fine-tune the nursing skills of compassion, understanding, listening, providing comfort and reducing stress – particularly when the patients were waiting for their shot,” Meyer said.

Patients were thankful for the healthcare workers who made the clinics a reality along with the many volunteers who helped them run smoothly.

“They were very appreciative of and receptive to the students,” Wiebelhaus said. “Many students were complimented on how well they did with the injection.”

Added Grant: “The patients were so grateful. It was such a touching experience to be a part of what will hopefully be the end of this pandemic.”

To learn more about WCTC’s renowned Nursing program, visit