Program gives local nursing students frontline experience in pandemic


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A collaboration between Aquinas College and Detroit Mercy is putting local nursing students on the front lines of fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

The simulation lab at Aquinas College gives nursing students a good idea of what it’s like to be in a high-pressure medical situation.

But now they’ve gone a step further: working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Aquinas senior Cole Sarkon started with contact tracing last spring, treated patients in local emergency rooms at the height of the pandemic, and gives COVID tests to Aquinas student athletes.

“I really loved the opportunity to help Kent County, (to) help the community try and fight this virus,” he said.

Now, a year later, he’s come full circle. He’s administering vaccines and seeing the hope it provides.

“It’s so rewarding to do because usually people don’t like shots, but here people were so happy and enthusiastic,” Sarkon said.

Enthusiasm is something Dr. Suzanne Keep has seen in all her students as they use what they’ve learned in the classroom in real-life situations.

“Applying their knowledge to the real world, meeting people and addressing the pandemic. They’re gonna be ready for the next pandemic,” Keep said.

The hands-on experience the students are getting does more than prepare them for a job in the real world. They say it reminds them of why they wanted to pursue a career in nursing in the first place.

“They have it in their heart, I think that identifies us differently than some other places because they truly show that compassion and that care,” Keep said.

Sarkin said it is why he chose nursing — and his experience in the pandemic will help him excel in his field.

“This is why I want to do nursing,” he said. “It’s to help the people who need the help the most.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

More COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ

Growing Grand Rapids and Beyond

More Growing Grand Rapids and beyond

Top Stories On

Know something newsworthy? Report It!

News 8 Links