CNM Nursing Students Help with COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics
April Sanchez at the Expo New Mexico vaccine clinic last week.

CNM Nursing Students Help with COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics

The students are aiding with logistics, and eventually injections, as thousands of Bernalillo and Sandoval county residents get inoculated
March 03, 2021

Last week, CNM nursing student April Sanchez had the opportunity to be on the front lines of the world-wide effort to vaccinate against COVID-19. April, a Level 1 student, helped hundreds of Bernalillo county residents with everything from patient questions to post-injection monitoring as they moved through the Expo New Mexico vaccine clinic run by the New Mexico Department of Health (DOH). 

"I feel really grateful to be able to help the community," April says. “It was a little scary to be out there at first but now I have a ton of optimism and hope.”

April is one of about 50 Level 1 nursing students who’ve helped so far at the Expo clinic as well as a UNM West clinic that’s vaccinating Sandoval county residents. The day she volunteered, she and other CNM students helped 1,000 people get their shot.

Diane Evans-Prior, the CNM Academic Affairs Director for Nursing, says the DOH has been amazing to work with. Setting up the volunteer opportunity was logistically complicated because of liability and supervision issues, but she says DOH came up with a smart plan that allowed the students to help and get valuable experience all at the same time. 

“The DOH has been incredibly efficient and innovative,” Diane says. “To be able to send students to a COVID-19 vaccination site and for them to be doing really meaningful work through a nursing lens is tremendously powerful. Every student who's gone through this has reported a really positive experience and a strong level of fulfillment.”

As vaccine access increases, Diane says senior level nursing students will get to volunteer as well and they’ll have the opportunity to administer the vaccine. 

CNM nursing students are also participating in an outreach project run by the University of New Mexico Hospitals, the DOH, and the New Mexico Aging and Long-Term Services Department. That initiative is designed to ensure New Mexico residents who don’t have smartphones or access to the internet can register for their COVID vaccine via phone. The participating CNM students are staying at home and calling these vulnerable adults to set up appointments. But instead of using their own phones, CNM has set up corporate extensions that can be accessed online through the students’ computers.

Diane says that watching the DOH vaccine rollout has given her full confidence that anyone who wants the vaccine will have access in the coming months. She’s also excited for her nursing students to keep helping and getting valuable real-world experience.

“I couldn’t be prouder of everyone involved,” she says. “This is an excellent time to be a New Mexico citizen.”