UTMC Intern Administers COVID-19 Vaccine, Blending Science and Personal Impact

March 23, 2021 | COVID-19, News, Student Success, UToday, Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, UTMC
By Jon Meerdink

Nicole Wendeln is making an impact in the world of healthcare even sooner than she expected.

Having already graduated with her bachelor’s degree in pharmaceutical sciences in May from The University of Toledo, Wendeln is working toward her Pharm.D. degree — all while helping on the front lines of Ohio’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

Having graduated with her bachelor’s degree in pharmaceutical sciences in May from UToledo, Nicole Wendeln is now working toward her Pharm.D. degree.

Now an intern at The University of Toledo Medical Center’s outpatient pharmacy, Wendeln received a career opportunity during winter break she’s not likely to see again: administering the first doses of the pandemic-fighting COVID-19 vaccine in the state of Ohio.

“I was able to work on drawing some of the doses up from the vials to be prepared for administration, getting the individual doses into the syringes and administering vaccines to patients,” said Wendeln. “It felt really good that I was able to be hands-on and really go out and do something that has a direct and positive impact on the pandemic.”

The vaccine itself may be the best working example of science in action, and for Wendeln, medicine has always been about science. She chose to pursue a pharmacy career because of how it combined science and medicine — all while providing career flexibility.

“I knew that with a pharmacy degree I could work in a variety of different pharmacy careers or clinics. There’s just a bunch of options that you can go into,” she said. “I kind of wanted to keep my options as broad as possible and I knew I would be interested in the subject material we would be learning.”

Between her experience with the vaccine and her work at the UTMC pharmacy, that flexibility has quickly turned from a theory into reality, giving her the opportunity to gain real-world experience while working alongside seasoned medical professionals.

“I feel like I can learn something different from everybody,” said Wendeln. “Everybody has a slightly different perspective to the profession and their past experiences before they got to UToledo.”

For her part, Wendeln contributes plenty to the team, even when she’s not administering COVID-19 vaccines.

Nicole Wendeln, second from left, chose to pursue a pharmacy career because it combined science and medicine — and provided career flexibility.

“We hired Nicole because she had received rave reviews from our Main Campus Pharmacy where she was completing her Introductory Pharmacy Practices Experience (IPPE) hours,” said Megan Sizemore, an outpatient clinical pharmacist at UTMC. “Nicole is going to be a great pharmacist. She is able to demonstrate empathy and compassion for our patients and is willing to go an extra step to help.”

Wendeln isn’t exactly sure yet where she’ll take her next step. She intends to pursue a residency, but beyond that, her future is wide open. Wherever she ends up, though, she has one major goal in mind.

“I want to do something clinical where I can really make some interventions to positively impact patients,” she said.

If her work administering the COVID-19 vaccine is any evidence, she’s already well on her way to doing just that.

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