UT School of Nursing honored by nurse practitioners for COVID-19 vaccination efforts

Reece Tincher, General News Reporter

The American Association of Nurse Practitioners — the largest professional organization representing nurse practitioners — congratulated and honored UT’s School of Nursing for COVID-19 vaccination efforts on Oct. 20 during a special ceremony at the School of Nursing. 

“It’s an honor to be recognized,” said Stephanie Morgan, the director of practice innovation for the School of Nursing. “I’m very appreciative, but also, that’s our job.”

Clinical nursing professor Morgan said 2021 marked a huge boost in volunteer efforts. Volunteers operated at the Gregory Gym for vaccinations, she said, where they vaccinated 2,000 people a day — one of many operations that got them honored. 

“I think most people wanted to use their skills, and they wanted to help others,” Morgan said. “Regardless of how much schooling they had, regardless of whatever titles they held in their big organizations or company, it didn’t matter. Everybody just worked together to get vaccines to people, period. It was actually beautiful.”

Outreach nurse Kimberly Borger said her volunteer work as a nurse took her to areas in Austin she previously wasn’t aware of to provide the vaccine.

Borger worked as a part of the Vaccination Administration Mobile Operations program — a program which held a drive-thru mobile clinic in underserved Austin communities — and said many of the areas she assisted in lacked access to healthcare facilities due to income or transportation. She said misinformation was also an issue.

“We provided education and addressed any hesitancy due to maybe things that they have read or heard, and then ultimately provided vaccines,” Borger said. “Eventually, after providing the education, we would see them come around.”

Morgan said the American Association of Nurse Practitioners honoring them raised more awareness for what they and other nurses do for their jobs.

“A lot of people view nurses, and they picture them in the hospital,” Borger said. “I am thankful for COVID, and only in this way because it was a devastating time for a lot of people, but it showed that … care can be done outside of hospitals. Communities need you more than you thought they did, and public health is just as important as hospital health.”