To help ensure that older New Yorkers avoid the flu this winter, 45 NYU College of Nursing students lent a hand at more than a dozen flu shot clinics during November. The volunteer effort was conceived by Carrie D’Andrea, an NYU nursing student who, as part of her nursing leadership class, is working at the Visiting Nurse Service of New York (VNSNY) Flu Vaccine Initiative to fulfill the clinical requirements of the class. One of Ms. D’Andrea’s first responsibilities at VNSNY was to recruit some extra hands for the flu vaccine initiative. By sending out an email, she found more willing classmates than she had imagined. Students who volunteer have been able to receive both credit for the volunteer hours and a free flu shot.
With more students volunteering each day, the NYU students have cut the waiting time for older adults seeking flu shots and have assisted them in filling out considerable paperwork. Moreover, in the course of conducting health screenings to ensure that patients would not suffer adverse reactions from the vaccine, nursing students have been able to refer several individuals for needed health care.
“Nursing students have helped tremendously in protecting the community from a virus that kills about 36,000 people in the United States each year,” says Noreen Brennan, clinical coordinator for the Leadership Class. “In addition to providing health screening, students have helped keep things organized at the sites and made the experience pleasant for the recipients. Most students are also getting a free flu shot at the clinics and it’s exciting to know that we are able to increase the immunizations in our student population, especially as they go to work with ill patients at other sites in their community.”
The students have worked at sites run in the Manhattan neighborhoods of Harlem, Washington Heights, Morningside Heights, the Upper West Side, East and West Villages, Chelsea, Times Square, Lower East Side, Flatiron District, and in Staten Island. Clinics have been held in large residential complexes, single-room occupancy buildings that house formerly homeless people, and naturally occurring retirement communities. Says Ms. D’Andrea, “The older people receiving flu vaccines have appreciated the opportunity to get some help with the forms and have really enjoyed talking with the nursing students.”
“This project has opened my eyes to community health and wellness, and to the importance of immunizing as many people as possible,” she adds. “Many of the nursing students have had the same response.”
The College of Nursing at the College of Dentistry is located on New York University’s historic Greenwich Village campus in New York City. The College of Nursing is one of the leading nursing programs in the United States. The College offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing; Master of Arts and Post-Master’s Certificate Programs; and a Doctor of Philosophy in Research Theory and Development. For more information, visit www.nyu.edu/nursing.