Nursing students to help administer free flu vaccines

Nursing students will be helping to ward off the seasonal flu by administering free vaccinations today in the University Recreation Center – one of several efforts to educate the campus community about H1N1 and the seasonal flu.

Students will be helping at the clinic as part of a project for clinical instructor Sharon Canclini’s Community Health Practicum class.

“This student population has done an amazing job because they have been working with what I call a moving target,” Canclini said, “(This) is very different than any clinical the students have done in the past because they’re not in a hospital. This is very foreign to them to work with aggregate care, meaning working with all of the community, not just a sick person in the community.”

The clinic, offered by the university every fall, will last from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m.. Vaccinations are free to students with their TCU ID card.

But volunteering at the clinic is not the only task nursing students in Canclini’s class have taken on this fall, said senior nursing major Traci Murray, a student in Canclini’s class and co-leader of one project.

“Our project this semester was to educate the TCU community on seasonal and H1N1 flu, and ways to prevent spreading the flu,” Murray said.

Murray’s group created informative fliers, a Web site, care packages for the University Health Center and posters for educational presentations, she said. Several hundred fliers were placed in Barnes & Noble, on campus and in restrooms all over the university providing tips on proper hand washing and coughing etiquette.

“We recognize the need in the TCU community that there needs to be a heightened awareness of how to prevent the spread of seasonal and H1N1 flu, because we have a predominately residential campus and everyone lives in close proximity to each other,” Murray said. “So that just increases the spread if we don’t know how to control it and wash our hands effectively and cough better.”

Murray said the group came up with the idea for the project as a response to relevant community needs.

She said that to understand community necessities, the group conducted windshield surveys, which consisted of observing the surroundings by driving or walking through the community. Group members also spoke with stakeholders in the campus community.

Canclini said this was a Harris College of Nursing project. The students relied on the cooperation of their professors to get out of classes to work on the pilot study Sept. 21.

The pilot immunization was an opportunity for the students to see how the vaccination clinic would run. All nursing students and faculty were vaccinated at the pilot.

“It is like a capstone project for these students, and you can see the incredible amount of energy they put into it,” Canclini said of the students’ work.

Murray said that although a portion of the project will end with the semester, the educational portion will continue. The group will not take down the fliers it put up or make the information unavailable.

She said that her group received a lot of community support through donations like free copies, thermometers and gift cards, which made the fliers and care packages possible.