Finding Joy: The Health Care Professional’s Journey to Well-being

Serving the community through COVID-19 vaccine clinics uplifts nursing students and faculty

April 30, 2022 Washington State University Health Sciences Season 2 Episode 8
Serving the community through COVID-19 vaccine clinics uplifts nursing students and faculty
Finding Joy: The Health Care Professional’s Journey to Well-being
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Finding Joy: The Health Care Professional’s Journey to Well-being
Serving the community through COVID-19 vaccine clinics uplifts nursing students and faculty
Apr 30, 2022 Season 2 Episode 8
Washington State University Health Sciences

Kay Olson, Associate Teaching Professor at Washington State University (WSU) College of Nursing, and her former students, Kate Grambihler, RN at Deaconess MultiCare and Susannah Mills, Certified Child-life Specialist at Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital, share their experiences applying skills learned in the classroom to practice by volunteering at community COVID-19 vaccine clinics. Kay, Kate, and Susannah discuss how the global pandemic impacted their teaching and learning environment and the ways in which they found personal and professional fulfillment through service to the community. 

“Finding Joy: The Health Care Professional’s Journey to Well-being" is a podcast resource developed by a team of interprofessional education researchers from Washington State University Health Sciences Spokane. They’re promoting well-being among students, faculty, and healthcare professionals during challenging times. Funding is provided by the Health Resources and Services Administration.

The Interprofessional Education Research team wishes to thank the following individuals for their invaluable contributions to this project:

• Dr. Barb Richardson, nurse, educator, and interprofessional champion;

• Cameron Cupp, creator of the “Finding Joy” musical score and current enrollee at WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine;

• Washington State University staff from Marketing and Communications, Financial Services, and the Collaboration for Interprofessional Health Education Research and Scholarship; and

• Claire Martin-Tellis, Executive Producer, and Solen Aref, student intern, who developed the first five episodes of the “Finding Joy” podcast.

This episode of “Finding Joy” was produced by Doug Nadvornick, Program Director, Spokane Public Radio.

If you would like to reach out, please contact our team by sending an email to: medicine.ipoc@wsu.edu We also encourage you to visit our podcast blog as well as our team's website at: https://opioideducation.wsu.edu/about/.

Show Notes Transcript

Kay Olson, Associate Teaching Professor at Washington State University (WSU) College of Nursing, and her former students, Kate Grambihler, RN at Deaconess MultiCare and Susannah Mills, Certified Child-life Specialist at Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital, share their experiences applying skills learned in the classroom to practice by volunteering at community COVID-19 vaccine clinics. Kay, Kate, and Susannah discuss how the global pandemic impacted their teaching and learning environment and the ways in which they found personal and professional fulfillment through service to the community. 

“Finding Joy: The Health Care Professional’s Journey to Well-being" is a podcast resource developed by a team of interprofessional education researchers from Washington State University Health Sciences Spokane. They’re promoting well-being among students, faculty, and healthcare professionals during challenging times. Funding is provided by the Health Resources and Services Administration.

The Interprofessional Education Research team wishes to thank the following individuals for their invaluable contributions to this project:

• Dr. Barb Richardson, nurse, educator, and interprofessional champion;

• Cameron Cupp, creator of the “Finding Joy” musical score and current enrollee at WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine;

• Washington State University staff from Marketing and Communications, Financial Services, and the Collaboration for Interprofessional Health Education Research and Scholarship; and

• Claire Martin-Tellis, Executive Producer, and Solen Aref, student intern, who developed the first five episodes of the “Finding Joy” podcast.

This episode of “Finding Joy” was produced by Doug Nadvornick, Program Director, Spokane Public Radio.

If you would like to reach out, please contact our team by sending an email to: medicine.ipoc@wsu.edu We also encourage you to visit our podcast blog as well as our team's website at: https://opioideducation.wsu.edu/about/.

This is “Finding Joy: The Health Care Professional’s Journey to Wellness and Resiliency.” It’s a podcast resource developed by a team of interprofessional education researchers from Washington State University Health Sciences Spokane. They’re promoting wellness among students, faculty, and healthcare professionals during challenging times. Funding is provided by the Health Resources and Services Administration.

 

[fade theme music]

 

I’m Doug Nadvornick. When Covid vaccinations began in the U.S. in December 2020, Washington State University health sciences students found themselves in demand. There were plenty of shots to administer and not enough health care professionals to give them. So the call went out to anyone qualified to give a jab.

 

Kay Olson: “My name is Kay Olson and I am an associate teaching professor.”

 

Olson works to find opportunities for WSU nursing students to practice their skills in community settings. The Spokane Regional Health District and others were calling to see if her students were available to give Covid shots.

 

Kay Olson: “Students loved, look at them shaking their heads, they love doing real things that really help their community. So, I didn’t have to lead them at all. They jumped into it.”

 

Katherine Grambihler: “I’m Katherine Grambihler. I have just graduated from WSU with my bachelor’s of science in nursing and I am currently working as an RN at Deaconess MultiCare in their post-partum unit and I hope to cross-train to LND.”

 

Doug: “LND is labor and delivery, right?”

 

Katherine Grambihler: “Yeah, labor and delivery. And then, in the next five-ish years, if that goes well, I would love to go back to school to be a midwife. When the school reached out and was like, ‘We would love if nursing students volunteered at these clinics,’ I was like, absolutely, I will do it.”

 

Susannah Mills: “And my name is Susannah. I also just graduated from WSU’s College of Nursing in December. I am currently working at Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital as a certified child-life specialist, which is what I plan to do after I get my nursing credentials is work in pediatrics, either intensive care or emergency medicine.” 

 

For students like Susannah and Katherine, the vaccination clinics came at a good time. The pandemic had interrupted their in-person learning the previous spring and they had gone all-virtual, which isn’t ideal for students who need to learn how to treat patients face-to-face. The clinics gave them the chance to practice real skills and make an important contribution to their communities.

 

Doug: “Tell me what that experience was like. I’ll start with you, Kay. How did you handle that deluge from folks who said, ‘Hey, we need people,’ and how did you train your students for it?”

 

Kay Olson: “Since I teach community health and the Spokane Regional Health District is one of my clinical sites, we do a lot of vaccinations in school-based clinics. We would go out with the health district and provide vaccinations at schools because we know, and we’re finding out even more, if you take the vaccinations to the people,  they’re more likely to get them. I think the reason we have low vaccination rates is because people don’t have easy access. They may have access, but do they have to leave their job. There’s a lot of different factors in getting there. Do they have transportation? Do they have funds to pay for that? So if we can take that right to them, they’re more likely to get it and we’ve had a lot of success with that. So when Covid hit and we came back to school, because I had been doing them, the dean approached me and asked if I would like to help coordinate some of these. At first it started out with helping to coordinate at Providence, but really, I didn’t need to do anything. They were taking care of that. And then I just started getting lots of phone calls from people asking if we could do it. So we started out at Summit Cancer Centers in January and I think we did three clinics a week from January to March and they just expanded. We’re still getting phone calls. They jumped at the chance and it snowballed and we’re still doing some clinics. It’s slowed down a little bit, but we’re still doing them.”

 

Doug: “What was the experience like for you two?”

 

Katherine Grambihler: “I’m very passionate about vaccines. I have a mom who’s immunocompromised, so getting vaccinated is a top priority for me and having everyone around me be vaccinated.  I had always volunteered in my community and I felt like, through nursing school, we didn’t have as many opportunities to do that because we’re so busy with didactic courses and clinical and then, when the vaccine clinics came around, it was a great mix of being able to volunteer in our community. I feel like we were making a difference and we could see the impacts that we were having and it still helped us with our nursing education and practicing essential skills that we use every day. So we made it a priority to try and volunteer at least once a week and it was so great seeing the same students at our vaccine clinics and getting to build those friendships and get to meet people in the community. It was a great experience.”

 

Susannah Mills: “I think it was great too because our first semester, when we did our gerontology rotation, we do get to do injections and so that was the last thing that our clinical group did in person before Covid and so it was another opportunity for us to get to practice that skill that we had done one time before Covid started and I think, for everybody collectively, to see there was a little light at the end of this crazy tunnel we had been in so far. We had only been in person with each other for six weeks-ish before Covid happened, because we started nursing school in January 2020, so we were barely even getting our feet wet when Covid happened and so, to just get the opportunity to spend time getting to know other students and getting to practice some of these skills and, I think some of the first few experiences that we had were kind of whirlwind and it was just great to see that this is happening and it’s so exciting. But earlier on, when it was just the elderly population who was eligible, I will never forget volunteering at this one clinic and this elderly person with a cane was skipping to me and was so excited to get their vaccine and this one gal who was in tears because  she was so terrified of needles, but she said, ‘My children won’t let me see my grandkids until I’m vaccinated,’ so she was so scared but there because she knew how important it was and so it’s been really fun to get to see the enthusiasm of the community, especially early on, and getting to participate in that and get to be part of the solution to this pandemic that’s been happening. It’s been so fun and fulfilling, I think, to all of us who’ve been able to participate. We got to have Kay as our clinical instructor our final semester of school, but we really got to know her in our second and third semesters of school, so it was a lot of fun to just get to know faculty better and people traded out to be with Kay and so we got to see some of those other people in person who we had only ever seen on a Zoom screen, doing classes that way.”

 

Katherine Grambihler: “It gave a great opportunity to practice talking to people because you have people who are so excited to be there. Some people are mad that they have to be there because it’s a work requirement. Some people are terrified and are screaming and crying, vaccinating children.”

 

Katherine Grambihler: “We worked with elderly, we worked with little tiny babies. It was also just great communication practice, having to give vaccines and educate about  them.”

 

Susannah Mills: “Yeah.”

 

Now Susannah Mills and Katherine Grambihler have finished their nurse’s training and are working in the real world at a time when nurses are in great demand.

 

Doug: “What was it like to search for a job in this climate?”

 

Doug: First, Katherine Grambihler. 

 

Katherine Grambihler: “I would say one thing that’s hard about being a new grad in this climate is, yes, there are a lot of jobs. But there a lot of jobs for nurses with experience because, with the pandemic, with how high the burnout rate is right now, a lot of seasoned nurses are leaving the profession, so that makes it hard to train new nurses. So that’s a roadblock I ran into quite a bit. I would be qualified for a job in every way except that I don’t have my first year of experience. So I stuck to applying for residencies which are designed for new grads. It’s like a transition kind of course where you take classes part-time and you’re a nurse part-time, so, right now, I take about 20 hours of classes a week and then I’m a nurse for 24 hours a week on the floor, so that’s kind of a transition. But, for interview wise, I would send in my application and, if it was qualified enough, I got an interview and then, for the job I specifically got, I made it through the first round of interviews and then they decided not to move forward with me, but then I got set up with a different interview that next day with the unit manager for the post-partum one and then I think it was later that day that I got a call that I had gotten that job. It’s kind of a mixed bag. There are a lot of jobs open but they’re not all necessarily designed for nurses in our situation because they don’t have enough people to train us.” and was like, ‘We would love if nursing students volunteered at these clinics,’ I was like, absolutely, I will do it.”

 

Susannah Mills: “I have not yet applied for nursing positions because I am getting married in May and then we’re moving to the Tacoma area and so I’ll apply when I get over there. But I just finished my practicum in December at Seattle Children’s Hospital and everybody there, they said that they had whole units that are currently closed down because they just don’t have enough nurses to staff them and so they’re desperately in a hiring spree, trying to find people who can just fill places so that they can  continue to admit more patients and meet all those needs. But they can’t do that if they don’t have enough nurses, so it’s a challenge that I think everybody is facing right now. What I do at Sacred Heart isn’t directly related to nursing, but I work every single day with so many nurses and there are so many days when we have hardly any staff and where our managers, who, I had never seen my manager in scrubs before and I went to work the other day and she had scrubs on and was working on the floor because we’re so short-staffed everywhere. It’s wild.”

 

Doug: “So, Kay, I’m guessing that you’ve been asked to sort of counsel some of your students through all of this as to what this new job situation is like for them. What do you tell them?”

 

Kay Olson: “That’s a good question. First of all, I’m not a hospital nurse. I’ve worked out in the community. A lot of that is kind of vague to me. But, really, we just kind of tell them to apply wherever and, if they can get residencies, those are awesome experiences because it allows them anywhere from six weeks to six months, depending on what type of floor they go on, to get some additional training with staff nurses that are in that actual department. Nursing is so varied that it’s hard for one person to know all the different areas. You kind of get into an area that becomes your specialty. The other good part about it is you can work in any area and transfer to an area without having to get additional education. They kind of train you on the job. We don’t have to counsel them a whole lot because they’re in demand. So many of our students, when we were lining up for graduation, were already telling us, especially at Seattle Children’s, they got job offers already.”

[music bump]

 

We’re talking with WSU Nursing associate teaching professor Kay Olson and her former students Susannah Mills and Katherine Grambihler. 

 

Doug: “The name of the podcast is called Finding Joy. So we’re asking all of the people we interview where do you find joy, professionally and personally, right now because we’re going through a tough time.”

 

Kay Olson: “I’ll start with that one because part of my joy in teaching is actually being able to be with the students and, once Covid hit and we were not with them so much, being able to do these vaccine clinics put me with the students a lot and, I’ll tell you, I loved every minute of it. It brought me joy to see them grow, to see them out working in the community. It wasn’t work. It wasn’t a chore. We actually had an amazing, wonderful, fun time when we were out doing those. The people loved that we were out doing them and we got thank yous, we got flowers, we got candy sometimes. There was just a lot of joy in doing that and I loved working with students.”

 

Doug: “How about you two?”

 

Katherine Grambihler: “I feel like I get joy in a lot of places. I met Susannah my first clinical group. We have been together all four semesters and I now live with her, so I find joy in having new friends. We have really cute cats. And I think getting outdoors and really clearing your mind and finding ways to help your community. Vaccine clinics were such a source of joy for me. I just need to make it through this Monday and then, on Tuesday, I get to go to MLK Center with Kay and it’s going to be a great time and it’s just a nice kind of mental unpluggery. I feel like I’m here to do this specific activity and I don’t need to think about the tests that I have next week. I’m here just serving the people around me for the next five hours.”

 

Susannah Mills: “Yeah, I would agree. I think, during school, when I look back on the joy that I got throughout that whole experience, although a lot of chaos ensued, the vaccine clinics were a huge part of it because, during our med surge semester, for instance, where we couldn’t be in person for class, we were doing clinicals only once a week in person and, even then, I was just with the nurse that I was assigned to for the day. Going to the vaccine clinic was a time where I got to be with my peers and we got to get to know each other and it wasn’t just people in our class, but it was people in the class above us and below us and getting to be out in the community. After being isolated for so long, just being around people was such a joy and getting to hear peoples’ stories about how they got to the vaccine clinic that day, what brought them there. I think as time went on, our last semester, we did more of the community pediatric vaccine clinics and, that being something I’m interested in going into, was a lot of fun for me and it was really fun to get to have some of the staff pull me into more challenging ones and say, ‘How can we help this child?’ or ‘What tips do you have?’ or ‘What kind of comfort positions can we use?’ Getting to teach my peers about what I know from my current profession and how they can incorporate that as a nurse, that was a lot of fun for me to get to be the expert in that realm. I enjoyed getting to put that together with serving families in that way of getting to provide vaccines to their children. Outside of school, getting to hang out with friends that I made in school and Katherine. We got to be put together in our clinicals every semester, all four, which is very unusual. But we worked really hard to get to be together, so it was a lot of fun. I’m wedding planning right now, so it’s kind of chaotic, but a lot of fun and looking forward to that and getting to get into the profession of nursing and see where that takes me and get to enjoy more time with little ones.”

 

That’s former WSU nursing student Susannah Mills, along with her classmate Katherine Grambihler and their instructor Kay Olson. We thank them for talking with us.

 

[theme music]

 

The Interprofessional Opioid Curriculum team also wishes to thank these people for their contributions: 

 

• Dr. Barb Richardson, nurse, educator, and interprofessional champion; 

 

• Cameron Cupp, creator of the “Finding Joy” musical score and current enrollee at WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine

 

• Washington State University staff from Marketing and Communications, Financial Services, and the Collaboration for Interprofessional Health Education Research and Scholarship; and

 

• Claire Martin-Tellis, Executive Producer, and Solen Aref [so-LEN uh-REF], student intern, who developed the first five episodes of the “Finding Joy” podcast.

 

This episode of “Finding Joy” was produced by Doug Nadvornick from Spokane Public Radio.

If you are interested in sharing your perspective about wellness and resiliency as a healthcare professional or would like to reach out, please contact our team by sending an email to: medicine.ipoc@wsu.edu  We also encourage you to visit our website at: https://opioideducation.wsu.edu/about/.