Posted on Apr 16, 2022

Associate professor leads community vaccination clinics in underserved areas

Associate professor leads community vaccination clinics in underserved areas

Dr. Janet Roman

Dr. Janet Roman

Dr. Janet Roman loves educating nurses and serving her community. Those passions fuel her biggest quest yet: finding or developing the solution to the nursing shortage.

“There has been a shortage of nurses for years. The solution to this shortage is educating more nurses,” she said. “I am fortunate to be able to educate nurses at USF sharing my critical care knowledge, leadership experience and program development skills, while also treating patients in our community suffering with heart failure.”

Roman was born and raised in Philadelphia. She served more than 33 years in the U.S. Air Force as a global flight medic, transporting injured soldiers back to the United States.

In 2013, Roman went back to school and made history. Not only was she one of the first students to graduate from the Doctor of Nursing Practice program at Villanova University, but she was also the first African American female to graduate from the program.

Six years later, Roman moved to Florida to provide high-quality palliative care and hospice services to veterans.

In her current role as an associate professor and the Director of the Doctor in Nursing Practice program at the USF Health College of Nursing, Roman is able to combine her love for teaching with her dedication to serving the community. She bridged her clinical expertise in heart failure with her experience as an educator to create a comprehensive heart failure program for the community.

In 2021, the college honored Roman with the Community Service Award for her diligent efforts throughout Tampa Bay. Shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020, Roman volunteered to educate students on virus protection and prevention. She described it as a learning “pivot” to prepare students and ultimately, lead them to assist community members at testing and vaccination sites.

Early on in the pandemic, Roman remembers listening to a weekly update from the Florida Department of Health, where officials revealed underrepresented minorities were disproportionately testing positive for the virus and had higher mortality rates.

As case numbers and death rates increased, Roman took the initiative to present dozens of COVID-19 lectures throughout Largo communities.

“For a multitude of reasons, the minority community members had higher rates of vaccine hesitancy,” she explained. “I continued to provide lectures to this population and answered all questions.”

By August 2021, Restoration Ministries of Largo hosted a backpack giveaway for the children and invited vendors to offer free services to attendees.

“I reached out to Morsani and asked if I could host a vaccine clinic, and Dr Ashmeade approved!”

It was an exciting new adventure; Roman ended up vaccinated more than two dozen people during that event alone. Since then, Roman has held a monthly vaccine clinic at Restoration Ministries of Largo. To date, she’s administered more than 100 vaccines.

In February 2022, undergraduate students from the Sarasota-Manatee campus started assisting. Roman plans to meet with the pastor to create an ongoing schedule for the remainder of the year.

“This is my way of giving back to the community!”

Story by Cassidy Delamarter