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Pharmacy Students Receive Immunization Training for Join Front Lines of Pandemic Relief

By Nicole Carrera

Published on March 17, 2021

Students from USciences’ Philadelphia College of Pharmacy are often already working in the industry, or volunteering in their communities. When Pennsylvania announced that pharmacies were eligible to distribute COVID-19 vaccinations, it was imperative that our students were equipped with the proper training so that they could join in this public health effort. 

While students in the PharmD program typically aren’t trained in immunizations until their third professional year, students in their second professional year were given a mass training session so they could be on the front lines of vaccinating their communities. 

“We felt like we should have more of our students available to serve as vaccinators as vaccines are being distributed to local pharmacies,” said Elizabeth Harris, PharmD, Associate Professor of Clinical Pharmacy. “We’ve also had a lot of pharmacies reach out stating that they have a big need for student volunteers, so we’ve been trying to funnel those opportunities to our students.”

The immunization training, which is in association with the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) was completed in two parts. The first, an online portion, was followed by this hands-on training session where students each administered and received three immunizations from their classmates. 

“The cool part about it was that we were able to do all of the learning and module portions beforehand, and so today we got to do the actual technique and immunization,” shared Paulida Tes PharmD’23. 

Tes, who works at a local Philadelphia pharmacy, is excited to be certified and help her employer with vaccination clinics at long term care facilities in the community. 

“A lot of students don’t get certified to immunize until their last or second to last year in pharmacy school but here we are P2-class of 2023- getting certified now so that we can get out in the field early,” said Tes. 

The students who completed their training in this session are not the only PCP students who are certified to give vaccinations. Many students completed the training through their employer or other avenues so that they could give immunizations at work or during clinical rotations. 

Marissa Appel PharmD’24, was trained through her employer. Appel received her APhA immunization certification and has been administering the COVID-19 vaccine to community members in need. 

“Administering the first vaccine was definitely something that I will always remember,” Appel shared. “In my mind at that moment I was like ‘wow, I’m really making a difference’ and it will forever be, I feel, one of the biggest accomplishments of my pharmacy career this early on.”

Tes and Appel both said they know the importance of being trained as a student, especially now. “There’s a need for us. There’s a need for pharmacists, and I think that as students the earlier the better,” Appel emphasized. “Practice makes perfect.”

Sticking a patient with a needle for the first time is nerve-wracking for all students, regardless of year. But, Dr. Harris said the newly trained students are excited to be able to head to the front lines of not only the COVID-19 pandemic, but all vaccines that keep people safe and healthy. 

“I think that our students are feeling a mix of nervousness and excitement,” Dr. Harris shared. “They’ve been leaving the lab today saying that they feel like they’re ready, and that they’re really excited to be able to volunteer and also help out at their workplaces.”

Categories: News, Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Pharmacy, Students, Coronavirus