Medical Student Reflects on Her Role in the COVID-19 Vaccination Effort

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“Overall it has been a great experience!” Olivia Patsos, a third-year medical student from the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine (UNE COM), says about making her rotations at Southern New Hampshire Health.

For almost four years, Southern New Hampshire Health has been on the forefront of teaching the next generation of health care providers. Patsos has been completing her six-week clinical rotations in Nashua, part of which included helping with the employee COVID-19 vaccine clinics. At first, she was helping with registration, later she administered the shots herself. “I was able to learn all of what goes into planning and holding a vaccine clinic. I was able to walk through the process of administering the vaccine, seeing how the pharmacist prepares the vaccines, and having the opportunity to interact with staff during the vaccination itself,” Patsos explains.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has added some new challenges, Patsos says the hands-on experiences she has had during her rotations at Southern are invaluable to her medical school experience. “I think the COVID-19 pandemic is preparing me for the realities of being a physician quicker than if we were in pre-COVID times. In my opinion, everything that is occurring during this time has been present in the medical field and system for decades. These frustrations, inequalities, and realities of medicine are being highlighted immensely during this pandemic. I believe that the pandemic is very strongly demonstrating the realities of the adversity we will all face as physicians. Medicine is always evolving, and it is our jobs as health care professionals to recognize these changes and move forward in the best way possible,” she says.

Patsos says she’s now scheduled to help at the state-run public vaccination site at Nashua South High School, something she’s looking forward to. “This experience has given me the opportunity to understand, explain, value, and administer a vaccine that is so pertinent and vital to the progression of our world moving forward from this pandemic. I am very honored that Southern New Hampshire Medical Center has trusted their medical students to be able to assist during this time,” she adds.

Patsos says she’s leaning towards Family Medicine as her specialty. In the future, she hopes to incorporate contraceptive health care, family planning, addiction medicine, preventative health care, and LGBTQIA+ specific needs into her practice.

Caption: Olivia Patsos, third-year medical student from UNE COM, administers COVID-19 vaccine to Colleen Guiry, MD, Director of Medical Student Clinical Education at Southern New Hampshire Health.