Hundreds of Nursing Students Volunteering in Vaccination Deployment

Nursing student volunteers committed to serving others and ending the pandemic will take advantage of University of Maine System Nursing program innovations and public health partnership across the state to provide thousands of hours of vaccination support this spring

Chancellor Malloy and Presidents Ferrini-Mundy, Cummings, and Hedeen to introduce nursing students participating in Maine’s vaccination campaign at 1:00 PM Media Briefing on Jan. 28.

Orono, Maine — More than 250 nursing students from the University of Maine, the University of Maine at Fort Kent, and the University of Southern Maine will be volunteering to help end the public health crisis this spring by participating in Maine’s COVID-19 vaccination deployment.  The volunteer opportunities have been created through nursing program innovations and public health and education partnerships across the state. 

More than 1,000 COVID-19 vaccines were administered by UMaine students before the Jan. 25 start of spring classes. Throughout the System plans are already in place to deliver approximately 3,000 volunteer hours of support to vaccination efforts this semester and work is still underway to develop additional opportunities for student participation.  

“We could not be more appreciative or proud of how our nursing students have helped lead Maine’s public health campaign,” said Chancellor Malloy.  “Hats off as well to our nursing program leaders and faculty who have pulled out all the stops to keep our students on track.”  

University of Maine President Ferrini-Mundy, Chair of the University of Maine System Task Force on Vaccine Planning and Partnership, provided the Board of Trustees with a summary of nursing program innovation and student service opportunities as part of a task force report at the Board’s meeting on Jan. 25.  Examples include:

  • UMaine: Nursing students administered vaccines to frontline healthcare workers starting in early January. When the vaccine became available for older adults over age 70, UMaine Nursing partnered with Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center and Penobscot Community Health Center to ensure every available dose was administered to older adults. Throughout the upcoming semester, UMaine will continue to deploy 108 senior nursing students to support the delivery of 2,000 hours of vaccination support. Students will earn clinical credit for their efforts.  UMaine will be collaborating with other area institutions of higher education. 
  • UMFK and UMPI:  Second semester junior students will participate in COVID-19 vaccination clinics in Presque Isle and Fort Kent, in Presque Isle the program is collaborating with the nursing program at Northern Maine Community College to maximize coverage of the COVID vaccination clinic. It is anticipated that 85 junior students will provide up to 1-12 hours of support administering 100 shots per hour. 
  • USM:  Students participating in vaccine administration will receive course credit in their community partnership course with students having opportunities to assist Southern Maine Healthcare and Mid Coast Hospital with its vaccine clinic.  USM is also working on opportunities to serve immigrant and refugee populations in Portland.  Assessments on the number of opportunities and hours of service are underway.

UMA’s nursing program is new and the program’s most advanced students are at the halfway point of their third year.  

Ending the Pandemic and Serving Others:  Meet our Nursing Students

Chancellor Malloy and Presidents Ferrini-Mundy, Cummings, and Hedeen will introduce nursing program leaders and students volunteering in Maine’s vaccine deployment at a virtual media availability scheduled for 1:00 PM, Thursday, Jan. 28.

Participating students will include:

Emma Moulton, senior nursing student at the University of Maine:  Emma vaccinated about 50 healthcare workers at a vaccine clinic at Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center earlier this week and works in UMaine’s COVID-19 testing program.  She is from Ispwich, Massachusetts and will graduate in May.  

“I was frustrated by how COVID forced us to change our clinical experiences in the spring, costing us hands-on opportunities in hospitals,” said Moulton. “Now we go into this semester with a chance to fight back, complete our clinical training, and help end the pandemic.”  

Nicole Despres, senior nursing student at the University of Maine:  Nicole, who is Emma’s roommate, also participated in the healthcare worker vaccine clinic at Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center earlier this week.  She also vaccinated about 50 people.  She is from Berwick, Maine, and will graduate in May.

“The healthcare workers we vaccinated this week are on the front lines of caring for patients,” said Despres. “Their appreciation and eagerness to accept an injection from a nursing student were heartwarming.  I am really glad I had this chance to refresh my skills and to help.”   

Irene Neal, junior nursing student at the University of Maine at Fort Kent.  Irene is from Amherst, Maine, and is the student trustee-designate to the UMS Board of Trustees.  Her confirmation hearing is scheduled for Feb.10.  UMFK will be providing junior nursing students intramuscular injection training beginning next week so they are prepared to serve in Maine’s vaccination efforts.

“I am so grateful, especially as a nursing student, to be able to have this opportunity to help out my community in our collective fight against the deadly Coronavirus,” said Neal. “These vaccines are truly the “light at the end of the tunnel” of this awful pandemic, and I am so honored that I can be part of this vaccination effort!”  

Rebecca Seeley Dolan, third-semester student in USM’s accelerated nursing program:  Rebecca is a non-traditional student with a BA in Psychology whose experience as a healthcare advocate for her child and a parent inspired her to enroll in USM’s accelerated nursing program. A Coast Guard veteran and a member of a military family, she plans to work in veterans healthcare after graduation.  She is from Fryeburg, Maine, and currently lives in Scarborough with her husband and three children.  

“Being a full time student and a full time parent with kids learning remotely at home has been a challenge, but I couldn’t pass up the chance to help administer vaccines that will save lives and put us on a path to normalcy,” said Seeley Dolan. “Too many people are underserved by healthcare and we have to be willing to go that last mile to achieve equity in vaccine administration.”