Making an impact

OSU-COM students volunteer at COVID-19 vaccination clinics

Students reflect on the unique opportunity to contribute to a critically important public health effort.

About 175 medical students from the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine campus in Tulsa (OSU-COM) and 54 medical students from the Tahlequah campus (OSU-COM Tahlequah) have been helping with the COVID-19 vaccination effort under physician faculty supervision. Several students wrote about their experiences:

Jonas Weygandt, OMS I
OSU-COM Tahlequah

Jonas Weygandt, OMS I

I am honored and thankful to play a small part in this great undertaking by our community, our state and our country. Providing hands-on patient care to members of our community is why I came to OSU and why I am pursuing this dream of becoming an osteopathic physician. The Cherokee Nation has been a leader in the fight against COVID-19 and continues to be one in the rollout of the vaccine to end this pandemic.

Not only have I learned how to physically give a vaccination, but I have also learned how vaccine operations are run and the importance of attentive, patient-focused care. I know these experiences will play a critical role in my journey to become an osteopathic physician. The values of osteopathic medicine, focused on holistic and patient-focused health care, are what drew me to OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine at the Cherokee Nation. I hope to continue to live out these values as an osteopathic physician to serve my community and be a catalyst for change in the health care of my patients.

Tiga Wright, OMS II
OSU-COM

Tiga Wright, OMS II

Being a part of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout was an experience I did not anticipate when I first began medical school, but is a role that I am happy we are able to participate in. The people who have come to receive their vaccine at the OSU Medicine Healthcare Center have been so appreciative of the work OSU is doing for the Tulsa area. Seeing a patient’s excited eyes looking at you while they receive a shot is not a sight I believe any health care worker is used to seeing, pre-COVID.

I have learned about injections, techniques and the Moderna vaccine and had the opportunity to take part in first-hand patient encounters.

Kenzie Enmeier, OMS I
OSU-COM Tahlequah

Kenzie Enmeier, OMS I

Volunteering at the COVID-19 vaccine clinics has been a highlight of my semester so far. Having this early clinical opportunity has been a great way for first-year medical students to take their initial steps in learning how to become a physician and interact with real patients. Having that first interaction with patients under our belts will help us down the road when we enter our clinical years of medical school. I look forward to more interactions and opportunities like these.

Jesi Whitley, OMS II
OSU-COM

Jesi Whitley, OMS II

At OSU Medicine’s vaccination site, student volunteers and medical personnel work as a team to administer COVID-19 vaccines, provide patient monitoring post-vaccine, and also help educate patients about the vaccine. As osteopathic medical students, we are taught that patient care is multifaceted, meaning it involves more than just treating an existing disease or illness, but also preventing the onset of future illness.

I consider it a privilege to have this opportunity to volunteer at the COVID-19 vaccine site and to witness firsthand prevention in practice. By administering the vaccines, we are helping to reduce the risk of individuals contracting COVID-19, while also helping reduce the risk of chronic illness associated with the disease. I value this chance to serve my community by promoting the health and safety of its members.

Shelby Cummins, OMS I
OSU-COM Tahlequah

Shelby Cummins, OMS I

Administering vaccines is definitely a memorable way to start the second semester of medical school. Since we have spent so much time behind screens and textbooks, it is a nice change of scenery to see people face-to-face, or rather mask-to-mask. The Cherokee Nation continues to partner with us in our education by giving us the chance to impact their community in this way. The vaccine pods are located in the space that we used for exams and OMM labs last semester, so we know it well. The patients are all so happy to receive this vaccine; they see it as a stepping-stone to a return to normal life. They are so excited that we are here to learn in their community, and they like to ask questions about our new building.

For me, these patient interactions are a good reminder not only of why I want to be a physician, but also why I chose to be an osteopathic physician. I like people. I enjoy getting to know them and their families. I want to be a part of their lives, and not just part of their health care. In this pandemic, it’s becoming clearer than ever that physical health is tied closely to mental, emotional, and social well-being. An osteopathic physician is trained to look at all of these aspects of health and treat accordingly. I like to think that by interacting with these patients, many of whom have only been out of the house for essential needs, we give them the human connections that seem hard to come by right now. By doing so, we don’t just impact their health with a vaccine, but hopefully by giving them a happy interaction, too.

Wilson Sprinkles, OMS II
OSU-COM

Wilson Sprinkles, OMS II

As part of our service-learning course, we’re encouraged to get out and help the community in any way we can. So when this historic opportunity presented itself, I jumped at the chance to participate. It feels amazing to be able to help. The pandemic has affected people on so many different levels, so to be able to be here and be a small part of the effort is really incredible. It does feel like we’re on an upturn, and everyone is feeling very positive.

This experience of working as a team with other health care professionals and my fellow students, and interacting with patients in this way has helped me prepare for my future as a doctor. You gain a greater appreciation for human connection and compassion. Being that person who’s there for someone when they really need it is so important right now.

Related reading:

Osteopathic medical students join nationwide COVID vaccination effort

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