Students Assist America (SAA), an interprofessional initiative of 12 associations spearheaded by the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, is asked federal and state leaders to give hundreds of thousands of students the opportunity to help vaccinate the public and assist with the related tasks necessary for an effective and efficient vaccine roll out. After months of advocacy, SAA was able to work with policymakers to do just that.
By changing regulatory language and capturing the attention of the White House, future physicians, physician assistants, nurses, social workers, veterinarians, dental professionals, public health experts, optometrists, pharmacists and psychologists joined together as an interdisciplinary safety net to ensure that the weight of the COVID-19 emergency did not crush the daily operations of the healthcare system and put individuals and communities at further risk.
To this day, health professions students continue to serve their communities by helping to provide COVID-19 and other vaccines as part of a public health emergency response. Though formal SAA activities are dormant, this group’s work is now a permanent part of the nation’s response arsenal in times of crisis.