Nursing and medical students team up to vaccinate Nashville’s needy

School of Nursing students prepare vaccines for an outreach event to the homeless. Photo by Greg Fricker, VUSM.

Refugee children, people without health insurance and Nashville’s homeless were among 756 people who received free flu vaccines through an extensive Shade Tree Clinic vaccine outreach program coordinated by a School of Nursing student and two Vanderbilt University School of Medicine students.

Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner student and Milah P. Lynn Scholar Lexa Taylor, RN, and medical students Sarah Brown and Emilie Fischer worked with area nonprofits Siloam Health, Bridge Ministry, Room in the Inn, Nashville Community Outreach and Resource Center and the Nashville International Center for Empowerment to host 14 fall vaccine events. The students recruited fellow student volunteers and directed the administration of tetravalent flu vaccines.

While vaccination events aimed at underinsured families, refugees and immigrants primarily took place in clinic locations on weekends, much of the vaccine outreach to the homeless occurred at night. The students provided vaccinations under the Jefferson Street Bridge during Bridge Ministry’s weekly dinner, food and necessities distribution and prayer service for homeless and disadvantaged individuals.

School of Nursing students and faculty have long collaborated through Shade Tree Clinic, a VUSM student-run clinic that provides free health care and medications for Nashville’s underserved population.

In August 2018 Shade Tree moved from its longtime location on Dickerson Pike to clinical space provided by VUSN next to the Vanderbilt Nurse-Midwives and Primary Care Clinic at 2410 8th Ave. S. The new Shade Tree Clinic location offers expanded clinical space, a dedicated workroom, and improved laboratory, social work office and front desk area.