On December 17, 2020, Indianapolis watched as television stations around the city broadcast a small group of healthcare professionals receiving their COVID-19 vaccines. Ascension St. Vincent had selected six staff members to receive some of Indiana’s first doses.
And on the other side of the syringe was Dr. Kacey Carroll ’12, who graduated from Butler University’s PharmD program and now serves as an Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice for the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (COPHS).
“That was the most excited and nervous simultaneously that I have ever been to give a vaccine,” Carroll says about that day. “We were seeing surges in case numbers at the time, so it was exciting to say, ‘Here’s something we can proactively do to help our patients, and to help protect us while we serve our patients.’”
Since those first few doses, COPHS faculty, students, and alumni have continued stepping up to administer vaccines at a variety of hospitals, pharmacies, and other vaccination sites across the city—applying their skills to help the community protect itself from COVID-19.
Some Pharmacy students have administered shots or prepared doses while on rotations, and many others have volunteered their time. While the students already know how to give immunizations before ever touching a syringe of the COVID-19 vaccine, the clinics have provided them with valuable learning opportunities.
“This experience helps students understand how to manage a situation like this in the future,” Carroll says. “It’s also so important to give students the opportunity to be helpful and to make an impact.”
Kimberly Wray ’21, who graduated from the PharmD program this spring, says working in the St. Vincent clinics when they first opened gave her the most hope she had felt since the pandemic hit Indiana in March 2020.
“It filled me with so much joy to know I was partaking in what truly is a community effort,” she says. “It was an incredible experience to utilize the skills I learned in school to serve my neighbors.”
When Butler made doses of the Pfizer vaccine available on campus earlier this year, COPHS students led the way in immunizing fellow Bulldogs. Hundreds of students (and many COPHS alumni) volunteered to help run the Butler vaccine clinics, which were held in the Efroymson Family Gymnasium and the Health and Recreation Complex.
“It was amazing to see everyone work together,” says Dr. Angela Ockerman ’90, Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Assistant Dean for Student Affairs. “Faculty and alumni alongside our students from the various programs within COPHS—all together in service of this institution we love. It was truly heartwarming.”
Mandy McDaniel ’22, a Pharmacy student who helped at the on-campus clinics, says she felt a great sense of relief when she received her vaccine back in January. She loved having the chance to give that hope to others.
“The vaccine clinic was a great opportunity for students to use our certifications to give immunizations,” she says. “These clinics also helped us gain experience and confidence with overall patient care.”
“The biggest lesson I took away from this experience is the importance of community,” says Anis Tai ’22, another Pharmacy student who volunteered. “It takes all of us to help overcome this adversity and keep others safe.”