20 of Mount Aloysius College’s nursing students brought the College’s Mercy values into the community through a unique opportunity. On short notice, the nurses in training  traveled to St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Johnstown, PA, where they distributed approximately 1,200 vaccines in the span of two days. The vaccine clinic was held by Highlands Health Clinic.

The nurses ranged from first-year students to students in their final semester. Students within the nursing program are required to complete clinical hours starting their first year. Nicole Custer, chair of the Mount’s nursing department, explained that students must have completed certain criteria before administering vaccinations.

“All of our students are signed off on their skills. They take many tests to make sure they’re competent in performing those skills. That starts with the very first semester of our program,” Custer explained in an interview with The Tribune-Democrat.

Custer shared that she had so many students sign up that once slots were filled she had to turn students away.

She noted, “They just jumped right in. I’m so proud of them for stepping up and helping.”

The students were able to use this opportunity to grow their experience. During clinical hours, students are placed in different areas within a hospital. The goal is to have students grasp a better understanding of the medical setting.

Kelsey Bruich, a sophomore nursing major, says she was glad that she had the opportunity to provide individuals with a potentially life-saving vaccine even before graduating college.

Bruich stated, “It’s definitely an interesting way to enter a nursing career, right in the middle of a pandemic, but the experience has been monumental.”