Mobilizing the Future Health Care Workforce: Students Assist America

Mobilizing the Future Health Care Workforce: Students Assist America

Updated October 2020

The healthcare system in the United States is back in crisis mode due to the continued spread of COVID-19. As we simultaneously enter flu season and anticipate a complex distribution process for an eventual COVID vaccine, we are experiencing a significant healthcare workforce shortage. To meet the critical needs of our communities, our country faces an all hands-on deck situation.

Students Assist America, an initiative spearheaded by the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, is asking federal and state leaders to give tens of thousands of students across the health professions the opportunity to answer that call. And the emphasis right now is on vaccinating the public for flu, and against COVID when a vaccine is available.

Medical students and students from a variety of other health professions need to be deployed in safe, clinically appropriate ways to ensure the nation’s health care system continues to function during this unprecedented pandemic. Future physicians, physician assistants, nurses, social workers, veterinarians, dental professionals, public health experts, optometrists, pharmacists and psychologists have joined together as an interdisciplinary safety net to ensure that the weight of the COVID-19 emergency does not crush the daily operations of the healthcare system and put individuals and communities at further risk.


Student Doctors at the Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine (ICOM) administered more than 100 flu vaccines at the Treasure Valley Health Fair on Oct. 10 at the Ford Idaho Center in Nampa.

" I started volunteering with MRC in 2018 as a new student of public health, and they make it very easy. They are very organized. After COVID, it has exceeded my expectations and I love working with students from other health fields.
~ Sarah Work, Virginia Tech MPH Graduate 2020

The goal of Students Assist America is two-fold: 1) create meaningful opportunities for students with valuable skills and knowledge to help during this pandemic, and 2) enable students to continue moving forward on their educational path while traditional methods of learning are disrupted. When participating in mass vaccination efforts, students are supervised by licensed professionals and have all necessary PPE provided to them to ensure their safety.

This flagship approach initially launched in Virginia through a partnership between Students Assist America and the Virginia Medical Reserve Corps. Responding to the request by Governor Ralph Northam to bring students into the fight against the pandemic, academic institutions across the state are working to ensure their students have the opportunity to help their communities now, during  future vaccination efforts, and well into the future once the COVID-19 crisis has passed. A similar model is operating now in Arizona and more states are coming on board.

For more information on the Students Assist America mobilization effort, please contact Virginia Bader at the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine at vbader@aacom.org.
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