El Pasoans getting the COVID-19 vaccine at the El Paso County Coliseum may have a Silva student to thank.
Eight Silva seniors moved their Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) class down the street to the Coliseum to assist with the mass vaccination program. Their efforts earned them a place in history in this fight against the pandemic.
These student health care heroes spend their mornings Monday through Wednesday injecting the life-saving vaccine alongside health care professionals from University Medical Center El Paso. The students are studying to become LVNs though dual credit courses with El Paso Community College.
“It feels great that we get to contribute to the community like this,” said Silva senior Jia Moreno, who estimates she gives more than 50 shots during her shifts. “It was scary at first – sticking people with needle – but you get used to it and it comes naturally after a while.”
Moreno sees the mass vaccination clinics as an opportunity to prepare herself for becoming a registered nurse.
“You build connections with people and you also get a lot of practice talking with patients,” she said.
UMC officials said the Silva students provide much-welcomed help to the nurses and healthc are professionals. The young LVN candidates help cut down on the waiting times for patients.
“They’re great with the patients and explain everything very well,” said Nohemi Galindo, RN, and UMC’s director of the vaccine clinic. “It’s nice to have that refreshing person who has this bright new outlook on life, and they portray that to the patients.”
Galindo sees herself in the Silva students with whom she’s been working with for weeks. After all, the 2012 Silva graduate also spent time volunteering at UMC when she was a high-school student and a member of the Health Occupations Students of America, or HOSA.
“Working on all those projects really prepares you for time management and builds your interest in helping your community, so that becomes a lifelong goal to always be giving back to your community,” she said. “It feels like everything has come full circle. That was me not even 10 years ago. In a way, I feel like it’s me giving back to what Silva gave to me.”
Senior Jordan Ruelas also sees the future benefit of the real-world training he gets both at Silva and at the vaccine clinic.
“I think it’s a good first step in our careers as nurses and this is something we can do to stop the spread of coronavirus,” Ruelas, who also plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
Those receiving vaccines also don’t seem to mind that they are being injected by young nursing students.
“A lot of people say that it’s really great that you’re so young and you know what you want,” Ruelas said. “But mostly people are happy to get the vaccine. I see it as helping my community get stronger and get back to somewhat normalcy.”
Silva LVN instructor Joy Morgan proudly gives shots alongside her students at the mass vaccine site, equally excited to participate in this massive community endeavor.
“These students are very mature, very responsible,” she said. “I had them give lots of vaccines to the mannequins, so they were very prepared. I watched some of them and they were champs. I don’t have any hesitation about having them give vaccines.”
For Morgan, the best part of the partnership between Silva and UMC is the students’ role in helping end the pandemic.
“It’s really good for the students,” she said. “It shows them that what they are doing really does matter.”