Gannon University Nursing Professors Present a Flu-Fighting Strategy

Posted: July 9, 2013

Gannon University nursing professors took a closer look at living in close proximity to one another. College students are in an ideal situation for the incubation of learning, exchanging ideas and . . . the flu. Immunization is critical, but how do you get laissez-faire college students to participate?

That was the problem addressed by a podium presentation by two Gannon University nursing professors at the Building Healthy Academic Communities National Summit at Ohio State University. In "Nursing Students As Health Ambassadors: Implementing a University Influenza Immunization Program," Kimberly R. Blount MSN, CRNP, assistant professor and associate professor Lisa Quinn Ph.D. CRNP, MSN, explored creative ways to solve this public health dilemma.

It's a bigger problem than you might imagine. A 2010 study by the American College Health Association (ACHA) revealed that the vaccination rates for influenza on college/university campuses are persistently low.

Using the Gannon campus as a public health laboratory, Blount and Quinn devised an innovative strategy that utilized senior baccalaureate nursing students enrolled in a community health course in the University's Villa Maria School of Nursing to coordinate a University Influenza Vaccination Program.

The nursing students acted as "Health Ambassadors" to students, faculty and staff. The performed a community assessment, worked to produce informational materials, established policies and procedures and provided immunizations. The program was service-learning at its most essential: students helping students - a lot of them.

More than 550 influenza immunizations were provided at a one-day event, a startling number considering that in previous years, the University's Student Health Services had provided less than 50 influenza immunizations annually.

The favorable outcomes extended beyond reducing the number of illnesses, missed classes and boxes of tissues sold during the annual flu season.

Nursing students gained collaborative skills by working with a diverse range of University staff and departments, and professional staff learned from the students, who taught registered nurse volunteers the intradermal technique used for the immunizations.

Among the findings of the project were the importance of starting small and growing, teamwork and the freedom to be creative. And that's nothing to sneeze at.