SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Hospital vaccine requirements are impacting more than just current employees.
Some universities use local hospitals for clinicals in nursing programs, meaning students will have to follow the hospital’s vaccine requirements and get vaccinated for class.
Ozarks Technical College does not have a vaccine mandate. OTC has an agreement with Mercy hospital that allows students to use its facility for clinicals.
This agreement means students must follow any requirements the hospitals set.
“You have to have that hands-on clinical time with patients to be able to complete the courses and complete the number of required hours for accreditation,” Dean of Health Science Dr. Aaron Light said.
OTC has 16 programs with roughly 15 to 20 students in each program. Each program will have different clinicals. Students would go to a different hospital depending on their program.
Both Cox and Mercy require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. OTC was looking at using Cox for clinicals until it announced its vaccine requirement.
“The issue was being able to find a place that can provide a clinical rotation that is needed and be equal to what is at Mercy or Cox,” Light said. “Those particular locations and those rotations don’t grow on trees. We can’t just find them anywhere and everywhere. A clinic isn’t going to have the same type of patients as Mercy and Cox would. Those students really need to see those types of patients.”
The agreement process with hospitals can take between 3 to 6 months. Light said students who do not have a vaccine exemption or choose not to get the vaccine must drop out of their program.
“It’s just another line of vaccinations that health care providers have to take,” Light said “There’s only so much we can do given what our opportunities are in this area. We don’t have hospitals all over the place, so there’s only so much we can honestly do.”
Talya Medley is a Practical Nursing student at Ozarks technical college in Lebanon. She is currently seeking a religious exemption for the COVID vaccine.
“I know firmly in my heart and in my spirit why I pray,” Medley said. “I’m not going to compromise myself to that point in order to continue in a program.”
Medley filled out Mercy’s religious exemption application Wednesday. OTC said Mercy has one week to approve or deny any exemption application.
“I advocate for everybody, and nobody is advocating for me,” Medley said. “Just give me a chance to explain why I believe this and how long I’ve believed this.”
Medley also has her EMT license and is hoping to continue her journey and do what she loves.
“There’s plenty of other vaccines that health care workers don’t get because of religious exemptions, but this is the one where they’re demonizing people in this field that have spent our lives taking care of others over one shot. That is not fair.”
Mercy is requiring employees to be fully vaccinated by September 30th. Cox is requiring employees to get their first dose by October 15th.