As COVID-19 vaccine efforts step up across London, Imperial medical students are amongst the many volunteers who are helping out.
In December, the School of Medicine worked alongside Chelsea & Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust to offer medical students the opportunity to be part of the effort, managed by the Trust on behalf of the North West London vaccine programme.
Since then, over 600 medics have signed up to volunteer to vaccinate.
Offered initially to students in Years 3-6 of the MBBS programme, the School is developing further vaccination training resources to support more students in earlier years who are keen to be part of the national rollout over the coming months.
Dr Roger Chinn, Chief Medical Officer at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said:
"We’ve been pleased to have support from Imperial medical students on our sites. They supported our vaccination of North West London health and social care staff, but we’ve also had support for our in-patient services too. They’ve worked well in challenging clinical circumstances."
Students have also offered assistance to the vaccination programme at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, providing vital support in areas such as post-vaccine observations.
'Rewarding and worthwhile experience'
First-year MBBS Medicine student Yasmin Baker is one of the students already involved in the vaccination efforts. She has volunteered to support with vaccinations for healthcare staff and members of the public at St Charles Hospital (Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust) and Violet Melchett Clinic (Kensington & Chelsea Primary Care Trust).
Discussing her experiences so far, she said:
“I decided to get involved because it's such a unique experience where I can develop my clinical skills whilst playing my part in the vaccination programme to beat COVID-19. Having this clinical experience has given me the opportunity to apply the knowledge I've learnt so far in medical school into practice.
“I have really enjoyed the experience so far and plan to continue to help vaccinate. Seeing the excitement on the patient's faces when they receive the vaccine is so rewarding and makes it worthwhile!”
Yasmin received multiple training sessions to prepare her for the role:
“We had to complete online training which included multiple modules. After this, we received face-to-face practical-focused training which gave us the opportunity to practice vaccinating using intramuscular injection pads. Finally, we had our competency checked by the medical staff which involved them observing us perform vaccination consultations with patients. I've received my certificates which means I am now considered a competent vaccinator.”
'Energised volunteer workforce'
Working alongside healthcare staff, volunteers have proved to be an essential part of the workforce delivering the vaccination programme.
Dr Yasmin Razak, GP Tutor & Clinical Director at Neohealth Primary Care Network, is leading the Vaccine Hub in North Kensington which has benefited from the support of Imperial medical students. She said:
“Working alongside medical students has provided us with a highly trained and energised volunteer workforce, transforming our operations, supporting safe patient flow and vaccinating our most vulnerable at a higher rate. Their digital skills have been an additional asset. Patient feedback has been fantastic!
“It has also meant that our medical students are getting advanced clinical skills training when otherwise they may need to be stationed on remote learning only, as well as fostering leadership skills, so vital to ensure we have a robust NHS workforce.”
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