2020 Nursing Page Update

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A shot at hope: How administering the COVID-19 vaccine changed the perspective of York College students

Two Nurse Anesthetist students posing in a Diehl Hall lab

Dena Hildebrand ’23 pulled out her pen and signed the card, but it felt more like signing a history book. She had administered her first of many COVID-19 vaccines at WellSpan York Hospital. With each arm prick she felt a sense of hope. It was a day, she says, when she stood among heroes.

Hildebrand was one of several York College of Pennsylvania Nurse Anesthetist students (SRNA) who volunteered alongside nurses, pharmacists, and others to administer the first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to healthcare workers.

“It felt rewarding, but it also was a humbling experience,” Hildebrand says. “I was not prepared for the uncertainty in everyone’s decision to get the vaccine. Some people were excited, others apathetic, and a handful were nervous.”

The new vaccine was frightening, even for those who worked in healthcare, she says. While they were not forced to get the vaccine, it was offered to them as a priority for their work on the frontlines.

“I believe that each frightened person who received a vaccine from me knew they played a bigger role than just protecting themselves in this pandemic,” Hildebrand says. “It was my job to encourage them that they made the right decision once they made it to our clinic.”

A chance to move forward

Kevin Miller ’22 has seen the uncertainty around the COVID-19 vaccines. He felt some of that, too, but did his research to find credible sources and learn the facts. As a Nurse Anesthetist student (SRNA) at York College, getting the vaccine and then giving it to healthcare workers at York Hospital made him feel like he was living the example of doing good for others.

“The sense of community engagement was the most rewarding part of this experience,” he says. “I felt I was making a positive mark toward finding a solution to this COVID-19 pandemic, and I look forward to seeing continued progress as we move forward.”

In the past year, Miller and Hildebrand have saved the lives of patients recovering from COVID-19. They’ve also watched some say goodbye to their families across a tablet screen, dying with just their healthcare team around them for comfort.

Long before they launch into the next phases of their career, these two, as well as numerous others at York College, have gained an experience they’ll never forget. It has changed the way they think about medicine. It will forever impact the way they help others.

“The vaccine can give us a sense of normalcy. It gives us a chance to fight,” Hildebrand says. “It gives us a chance to start fighting a disease that has impacted so many.”