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MSPA students supply vital help at county COVID-19 vaccine clinics

Two MSPA students at vaccine clinic
Photo by: Provided
Physician assistant students Katy Yagorva and Ashley Miller were among the volunteers providing vital assistance at a Monterey County vaccine clinic at CSUMB.

Published February 18, 2021

As the nation’s focus turns to COVID-19 vaccinations, CSU Monterey Bay’s Master of Science Physician Assistant program is playing a vital role in helping Monterey County defeat the disease.

County health department officials scheduled their first drive-thru COVID-19 vaccine clinic for Jan. 11–14 on the CSUMB campus. They found themselves in desperate need of medical personnel to ensure proper administration of the vaccines. With little time to spare, MSPA students came to the rescue.

Under the supervision of MSPA faculty members, student volunteers assisted with vaccinating nearly 1,700 people who met required eligibility criteria at the clinic. They served multiple roles, starting with patient intake and initial screening. Students also assisted with the preparation of the delicate vaccines and monitored recipients for any possible reactions.

“All of the values of our caring profession were in play: interprofessional teamwork, communication, rising to the need of the hour — however inconvenient — to provide a range of skilled help, and mentoring by example.”
Valerie Berry, MSPA assistant professor

“This was a wonderful team effort,” said Dr. Alfred Sadler, MSPA senior advisor. “The seeds were planted months ago, and this event demonstrates how quickly the program has become a vibrant part of the local community health team.”

CSUMB professor Alyssa Erickson knew the needs of the county and connected with clinic coordinator Angie Gladstone. In addition, "Taylor Ash, our Class of 2022 student representative, and Dr. Sadler both jumped in with less than 24 hours notice.” said Dr. Valerie Berry, MSPA program assistant professor.

“All of the values of our caring profession were in play: interprofessional teamwork, communication, rising to the need of the hour — however inconvenient — to provide a range of skilled help, and mentoring by example,” Berry said.

MSPA student volunteers working at vaccine clinic
Photo by: Provided
MSPA student volunteers at vaccine clinic

The clinic helped provide a large number of health care workers with needed vaccines, and strengthened the close cooperative bond between CSUMB and the county health department. More clinics are planned for the coming weeks and months.

About 60 students contributed to the success of the January clinic. It provided them with an invaluable opportunity to use their skills and education to gain real-world experience while serving the public in a tangible way, Ash said.

“Dr. Berry reached out to me the night before and asked me to put together a schedule,” she said. “We all were very excited to get out there and help distribute the vaccine. It was a great experience and we look forward to the opportunity to help again.”

“There is a strong emphasis in the MSPA program not just to say but to demonstrate that we care about the patient, that we care about the community,” Ash said. “In fact, a big part of the program isn’t just to get out in the community but to remain and serve in Monterey County after we graduate.”

Recognizing its impact on the community, the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development awarded CSUMB's program a $60,000 grant in November 2020. It was one of only five physician assistant training programs in the state which received funds through the Song-Brown Program to help expand health care access to Californians most in need.

For more information about COVID-19 vaccination clinics and eligibility requirements, visit the Monterey County Health Department website.

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