Uni students step up in COVID crisis

January 21, 2022 BY

Helping: La Trobe University paramedic students Rebecca Bigham, Grace Moore, Bridie Kennedy and Mollie Housego have been vaccinating people against COVID-19 at a clinic in Bendigo since July. Photo: SUPPLIED

BUDDING paramedic Mollie Housego is well aware a university student would not usually be entrusted with doling out life-saving vaccines.

But for the past six months that is exactly what she has been doing during a once-in-a-100-year pandemic.

The fourth-year paramedicine student at La Trobe University has been working at a vaccination clinic in Bendigo since July, administering thousands of COVID-19 jabs as part of the national rollout.

Ms Housego, originally from Launceston, answered a call-out from the uni and has not looked back, revelling in the experience.

“Students in Tassie don’t have those opportunities,” she said. “I feel like I’ve been doing it for a while now and I’m pretty confident in my skills.

“It’s not just actually vaccinating. It’s being able to work with other health professionals, which I’ve never done before.”

The 24-year-old described it as a pandemic “silver lining” for her and six fellow paramedicine students currently working at the Bendigo Health hub.

“As horrible and awful as it’s been the last two years, without COVID I never would have been able to help the community the way that I have now,” she said.

In addition, she said her and other university students’ presence has freed up more nurses to return to hospitals as the number of COVID-19 patient admissions rise amid the Omicron wave.

Last week, the Victorian government announced it would hire an extra 1000 people to administer COVID-19 vaccines to bolster its booster rollout, including first-year health students and retired nurses.

They will undergo training and carry out a number of supervised vaccinations.

Ms Housego said she did weeks of vaccination modules before being ticked off to give the jab, and her training is ongoing as rules and regulations are ever-changing.

She encouraged first-year students to apply for the positions once they are advertised, saying the job has broadened her horizons ahead of graduating later this year.

“I’m still very much set on being a paramedic but this has given me a little bit more insight that being a paramedic is not the only career I can pursue,” she said.

“It’s definitely opened up more opportunities, that’s for sure.”