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Nursing Student Volunteers Play Critical Role at Campus COVID-19 Testing Site

For two weeks, 37 fourth-year nursing students checked people in, conducted screenings, and swabbed noses, contributing to the more than 13,000 tests completed at Houston Hall since early August.

In the Hall of Flags, eight tables circled the room. At each one, nurses donning scrubs under surgical gowns, gloves, masks, and goggles stood at the ready, waiting for University of Pennsylvania students to check in at a big white tent outside Irvine Auditorium.

The situation could unnerve even those accustomed to seeing medical professionals covered in personal protective equipment. The room in Houston Hall had become a makeshift COVID-19 testing site, yet those about to get swabbed seemed at ease, made comfortable by the friendly voices coming from behind the masks of those they’d interacted with so far.

Many such voices belonged to seniors in Penn’s School of Nursing, 37 of whom volunteered to help run the gateway site as part of the Nursing in the Community course co-led by Alicia Kachmar and Bridgette Brawner. For two weeks, the students checked people in, conducted temperature and travel-history screens, crowd-controlled, and even did some nose-swabbing, contributing to the more than 13,000 tests completed there since early August.

“The nursing students have been an exceptional addition to what we’re doing here,” says Erika Gross, Penn’s chief operating officer for Wellness Services. “They have brought wonderful energy, and they’ve also normalized a lot of the activities that we’re going through right now. They’re the first people that most of our students see when they show up.”

This is an excerpt from a story that was originally published in Penn Today. It was written by Michele Berger. Click here to read the entire version.