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group of students and faculty at a vaccination clinic
Teaching Associate Professor Kay Olson, second from right, participated in a COVID-19 vaccination clinic with nursing students at Shadle Park High School in Spokane this spring.

An effort to mobilize WSU College of Nursing students and faculty to administer COVID vaccines to thousands of people has earned Teaching Associate Professor Kay Olson a WSU Health Sciences Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence Award.

The Office of the Chancellor and Vice President for Health Sciences presents this award to honor faculty members who exemplify outstanding service to college, campus, university or community.

Said WSU College of Nursing Dean Mary Koithan, “The WSU College of Nursing has truly answered the challenge to contribute to the public’s health and well-being. Kay Olson has led our COVID-19 immunization efforts at the college, providing almost 18,000 immunizations across the region. Her dedication, goodwill and can-do attitude truly reflects the spirit of CougNursing at its best.”

Olson has organized and led faculty and student groups in providing vaccinations at schools, retirement homes, community centers and medical clinics.

“I had no idea we’d be doing this many clinics, but I certainly hoped we’d play a part in the vaccination effort,” Olson said.

Kari Lidbeck, Immunization Community Network Specialist at the Spokane Regional Health District, said “When the pandemic hit, one instructor in particular, Kay Olson, was proactive about reaching out to us to see how and where she and her students could help.  Last summer and into the fall, we tested out a curbside vaccination model with the flu vaccine.  We knew that this model may be used later for a possible COVID vaccine.  Kay was the first one to volunteer and came to each event that her students participated in.”

Said Dean Koithan, “From a grateful community and your college colleagues, we say ‘thank you!’”

Olson will be honored along with other Chancellor’s award recipients at a virtual celebration on April 21.

Also receiving honors this spring are Crimson Scrubs, the nursing service club at WSU Tri-Cities.

Crimson Scrubs was recently named the 2021 WSU Tri-Cities Student Organization of the Year.

This award recognizes a student organization for their contributions to the campus and to its members.

The nomination for Crimson Scrubs said nursing students were uniquely affected by the pandemic, yet the club was able to support students and help them stay connected throughout. Also, the club works hard to connect the College of Nursing building with the rest of the WSU Tri-Cities campus, though they’re in separate locations.

Said Bevan Briggs, academic director for the College of Nursing at WSU Tri-Cities, “The leadership council of Crimson Scrubs has done some amazing work during the pandemic. This award reflects their creativity and work. Congratulations!!”

Dean Mary Koithan of the WSU College of Nursing said, “Our students have been an incredible resource to their communities – providing immunizations, COVID-19 education, and testing. Congratulations on a well-deserved award.”