Student-run flu clinic sets new single-day record for dispensing vaccines on campus

UNE health professions students dispensed nearly 300 vaccines during an on-campus clinic
UNE health professions students dispensed nearly 300 vaccines during an on-campus clinic

UNE’s Center for Excellence in Public Health (CEPH) recently coordinated a student-run on-campus flu vaccine clinic where health professions students dispensed nearly 300 vaccines, a new single day record for the event.

The clinic was organized by Maine Area Health Education Center (AHEC) in partnership with UNE’s Student Health Services, the College of Osteopathic Medicine (COM) and Westbrook College of Health Professions School of Nursing and Population Health.

“The student-run on-campus flu clinic is an example of how UNE’s CEPH sits at the intersection of health professions’ student education and public health,” commented Michele Polacsek, Ph.D., M.H.S., director of CEPH.

Second year osteopathic medical students in the Maine AHEC Care for the Underserved Pathway (CUP) Scholars program helped staff the clinical roles for the event. The Maine AHEC CUP Scholars program is offered to UNE health professions students who self-identify as having an interest in working with underserved populations so that they can develop the necessary skills to work with these populations in practice.

“The UNE community is now better protected against the flu, AHEC CUP Scholars are better equipped to dispense vaccines, and our public health students are better prepared to implement systems that improve community health,” said  Polacsek.

Student doctor Raksha Adhikari (’22) was one of the COM students who staffed the event. 

“Next year I will begin my clinical rotations and after having the opportunity to dispense vaccines at this on-campus flu clinic, I feel more prepared to utilize such skills during my rotations.” Adhikari stated.

The non-clinical roles at the event were filled by students in the Westbrook College of Health Professions Public Health, Nutrition, and Athletic Training departments and the College of Arts and Sciences Medical Biology department. The roles included staffing the registration, vaccine inventory, and exit station tables; acting as a floater between stations to direct patient flow; and helping to set up and break down the event.

Bethany Fortier, M.P.H., assistant clinical professor in the Department of Health, Wellness and Occupational Studies, encouraged her students to volunteer at the event. 

“Getting a flu shot is one of the most commonly used examples of an effective public health intervention that we discuss in the classroom,” she explained. “The clinic allowed our students to take that concept beyond the classroom and out into the community.”

UNE Student Health Services supplied all of the dispensing materials for the event.

This is the fourth consecutive year that CEPH has coordinated an on-campus flu vaccine clinic.