Posted on Feb 25, 2021

USF nursing students volunteer with MRU at COVID-19 testing site

USF nursing students volunteer with MRU at COVID-19 testing site

A University of South Florida College of Nursing collaboration with the university’s Student Health Services Medical Response Unit (MRU) is opening the doors for nursing students to join local pandemic response efforts by volunteering with a county-run COVID-19 testing site.

Emily Gray, president of the student mentoring group Bulls Reaching Achievement in Nursing (BRAIN) and the college’s liaison to the student-staffed MRU, is recruiting nursing students to volunteer next to members of the medical transport service who assist with patient intake and anterior nasal swabbing at the campus testing site.

The testing site is one of three operated by Hillsborough County and located in the parking lot adjacent to the USF Health Therapy building at 3515 E. Fletcher Avenue.

USF nursing student Emily Gray.

Gray, who is also a responder with MRU, said she created the volunteer opportunity as a way to get more nursing students involved in the community and get first-hand experience on the frontlines of the pandemic by contributing to the public health effort.

“I have a lot of people who are very eager to get involved,” she said. “People are really excited. They want to be involved and to say they were part of something really important.”

Many COVID-related clinical experiences remain limited for nursing students, and this is a way to open up opportunities while mentoring students, she said.

Members of the USF Student Health Services Medical Response Unit (MRU) volunteer at a Hillsborough County-run COVID-19 testing site at USF.

Gray said combining the needs of BRAIN and MRU members was an obvious decision. Not only will BRAIN students be able to fulfill volunteer hours required for graduation, but they will use some of the COVID-related techniques taught this semester.

Many of the nursing students completed a College of Nursing COVID boot camp, which taught students specific techniques and safety protocols, such as nasopharyngeal swabbing, handling specimens, and donning and doffing personal protective equipment.

In addition, students went through a COVID Care pilot program that taught the fundamentals of the disease and the associated patient care practices. The program reinforced infectious disease protocols and provided information on the latest treatments for COVID-19.

She anticipates nursing student volunteers to be onsite in a couple of weeks after medical clearances and the fit-testing of masks is completed.

Story by Elizabeth L. Brown, USF College of Nursing