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Published November 11, 2021
Two second-year Wyoming medical students enrolled in the WWAMI Medical Education Program at the University of Wyoming recently took part in a volunteer effort to support COVID-19 patient care at Ivinson Memorial Hospital in Laramie.
Luiza Bosch, from Pinedale, and Taylor Thompson, from Cody, volunteered at the hospital’s Outpatient Regeneron Infusion Clinic through Dr. Samantha Herriott, an obstetrics and gynecology specialist.
Herriott also is a preceptor for the Wyoming-WWAMI (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho) Medical Education Program. A number of physicians from Laramie and surrounding communities serve as preceptors to work with medical students and provide hands-on experience in hospitals and clinical settings.
“The Outpatient Regeneron Infusion Clinic was a great way to get firsthand experience as a medical student,” Bosch says. “Dr. Herriott had an active role in getting us involved and was very invested in our education. She advocated for the continuance of our clinical experience and taught us the virtue of the real-world application of it.”
“Luiza and I volunteered our time that day, alongside Dr. Herriott, which included bringing COVID-19 patients into the Outpatient Regeneron Infusion Clinic,” Thompson says. “From there, I took vitals, started IVs and administered a monoclonal antibody therapy to the patients. We had to closely monitor them and their vitals throughout the infusion and afterward.”
A relatively new treatment for COVID-19 patients at high risk of severe symptoms, monoclonal antibody therapy involves giving patients an infusion of laboratory-created antibodies to help build immunity while preventing the virus from making them sicker.
Both Bosch and Thompson wore full-body personal protective equipment (PPE) and experienced firsthand the challenges many health care providers have faced over the extent of the pandemic dealing with COVID-19 in clinical environments.
“Wearing full PPE with respirators makes it extremely difficult to communicate with the patients,” Thompson says. “It makes an impact on the humane side of medicine, and I can see why health care workers are getting so burned out. It made me even more appreciative of all of the health care workers who have been working in these treacherous conditions for almost two years now.”
Student volunteer efforts, along with working alongside physicians and other medical professionals serving as preceptors, are key components of the education and training provided to students in the Wyoming-WWAMI program. These experiences help prepare students for working with patients on all fronts of medical care and treatment.
In the clinic, the student volunteers interacted with real patients and community members by starting the IVs that administered monoclonal antibodies, checked patients’ vitals, checked for signs of anaphylaxis and monitored patient progress.
“From this experience, I now have not only a greater understanding of the impact of the pandemic on patients and medical professionals, but a strengthened sense of empathy for their plight as well,” Bosch says. “I am so grateful to have had this experience.”