Rush Medical College M3 student Tom McNally saw his chance to step up when he heard about the opportunity to volunteer at the Rush Vaccine Clinic.
"I've been in a weird place during the pandemic because I'm training to be a medical professional, but I'm not one yet," explains McNally, "So there hasn't been a ton of opportunity for me to directly help out in a clinical sense." But the row of vaccine bays set up in Rush's Brennan Pavilion provided the perfect opportunity. "I've seen all these people on the clinical teams working really hard, long hours. For me, it was about how can I be of service to others in the pandemic."
It's not just thoughts of hardworking clinicians that encourage McNally to log hours at the clinic – patients, excited to do their part and move on from pandemic life, also keep him coming back.
On the day Rush opened up vaccination scheduling for individuals in the 1b group, McNally was working an evening shift. "I remember a woman coming in who was beaming with excitement from the second I stepped out of my bay and waved her over," he says.
She had just gotten the scheduling notification that morning, but leapt at the opportunity to be vaccinated so that she could be one step closer to finally holding her grandchildren who were born during the pandemic. "She said she saw it as a lifesaving experience," he recalls. “She said, 'Thanks for what you're doing.' It's super incredible to be a part of moments like this. The pandemic has taken so much from us, but this vaccine is really a beacon of hope."
McNally's experience as a medical student, including his comfort with administering vaccines and charting, allowed him to jump right into his role, but he's also found valuable support in his fellow clinic staff. "All the people in the clinic have been incredible," he says. "Rush is a fantastic place to work. I'm humbled every day that I get an opportunity like this."
After all the hours he's spent in the clinic with fellow staff and patients, McNally says if there's one thing he could share with everyone it would be "to trust science."
"When you get the chance to take it you should. It's the only way we'll overcome this pandemic. Trust science. Wash your hands, wear a mask, social distance."