Improving Access to COVID-19 Vaccinations Through Interprofessional Collaboration at a Student-run Clinic
Background: The Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) Student-Run Health Clinic (SRHC) is an interprofessional student organization, operating since 2011. This poster serves to describe how the SRHC was able to quickly adapt and continue its aim of interprofessional education and community health service for underserved populations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Methods: The SRHC partnered with a federally qualified health center (FQHC), Neighborhood Family Practice (NFP) to increase patient access to vaccinations. Graduate medicine, nursing, physician assistant (PA), and social work volunteers ran a weekly vaccination clinic. Volunteers were trained through a pre-clinic virtual orientation and in-person training the morning of clinic. Volunteers administered vaccinations under supervision of a precepting physician and NFP staff. Additionally, student volunteers assisted with community outreach events outside of the clinic.
Results: From January 23, 2021 to May 8, 2021, the SRHC administered 5,078 COVID-19 vaccine doses to 2,870 patients during the course of 16 clinic days. 53% of doses went to patients 75 years of age or older. 29% of patients receiving vaccinations reported their ethnicity as Hispanic/Latino, compared to 1.2% of patients visiting all other FQHCs in Cuyahoga county, and 2.1% of patients in the county overall. Each clinic day recruited an average of 15 student volunteers representing four health professional schools, for a total of 174 unique volunteers. Of these 174, 40% volunteered two or more times. Notably, 63% of the volunteers were first year students, indicating that the SRHC has been an effective route for students to gain early interprofessional clinical experience.
Conclusion: The SRHC successfully adapted its interprofessional model amidst the pandemic by partnering with a local FQHC, NFP, to administer COVID-19 vaccines, contributing to the collective health and wellbeing of its community. Through this experience, students developed skills in vaccine administration, safe PPE use and practices, patient counseling and education, taking informed consent, using a remote medical interpreter, and interprofessional communication and teamwork.
Reflection: SRHC’s efforts have demonstrated that graduate health students can effectively be mobilized in interprofessional teams to expand vaccination access to underserved communities. The vaccination clinic has also created a unique opportunity for health students to develop and practice interprofessional teamwork and communication skills in a clinical setting. Health students were able to gain experience working with medically underserved populations in Cleveland. Overall, the SRHC’s adaptation to provide vaccinations during the COVID-19 pandemic successfully served a critical need for both patients and graduate health students.