Throughout October, Visiting Nurse and Hospice for Vermont and New Hampshire (VNH) hosted drive-thru and walk-in flu clinics in the Upper Valley. This year, VNH partnered with nursing students from Castleton University to deliver the vaccine in the safest way to the community.

This hands on training proved to be helpful for the Castleton University nursing students. “It has given me a lot more clinical experience than I’ve gotten before,” said Mya Cyr, a current nursing student at Castleton University. “I didn’t know how to give a flu shot before and the VNH nurses taught me and I am now feeling confident.” Another nursing student, Danielle Fitzsimmons, described how she has been getting a lot of practice with vaccines and interacting with members of the community. “I am learning technique and getting experience interacting with people by providing them patient education about the vaccine, talking with them about concerns and making them feel comfortable” said Danielle. “We’ve been going over everything that we are learning in school and putting it into practice, it’s great!”

VNH is dedicated to bringing awareness to community-based home health nursing to area colleges. “I didn’t know a lot about home health nursing before this experience,” said Mya. “Throughout the last two flu clinics that I have done, the staff that I have been working with have explained what VNH does. It’s pretty awesome!”

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) report on 2014-2015 Enrollment and Graduations in Baccalaureate and Graduate Programs in Nursing, U.S. nursing schools turned away 68,938 qualified applicants in 2014. The greatest challenge to enrollment capacity identified by the National League of Nursing (NLN) is a widespread lack of clinical sites for nursing students. VNH is working towards a clinical rotation in home health to not only help with the shortage of clinical sites, but to raise awareness about community-based home health nursing as a career path.

“We love collaborating with the schools and making a connection with the students. We see them as potential employees and want to support them in their transition to practice in any way that we can.” Amanda Fay, Manager of Clinical Education and Evidence Based Practice states. “Home health is the ideal field to have students think fully about healthcare, resources, and disease management. Exploring home health allows them to link what they have learned in the classroom to practice. It also helps to breathe life into the content that they are learning.”

When asked what the most positive part of the hands-on experience at the VNH community flu clinics had been, Mya stated “Being able to connect with different people in the communities. People are thankful that we are doing this and it is nice to see that the community appreciates what we are doing.”