Genny Dalton, RN, BSN, Graduate Student at UT Austin School of Nursing MSN Program
I came to UTMRC as a volunteer during COVID. At the time I was working at the Heart Hospital of Austin in the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU), one of the few places during the pandemic where we did not treat Covid because of the risk that it posed to our patients.
I needed to find a way that felt meaningful to be involved in fighting the pandemic, so I began looking for volunteer opportunities and found the UTMRC. I had graduated from UT in 2008 (before I became a nurse) and still had strong ties to the community. I appreciated the robust training required to join and was grateful for the opportunity to become active. My first volunteer vaccination event with UTMRC was at Circuit of the Americas for a drive-thru event. I LOVED IT!!!! Twelve lanes of cars – I’m doubting myself now because that seems like such a huge number – lines of cars extending beyond your line of sight and giving shots through car windows or open doors. Ten hours flew by. It was glorious!
I participated in other vaccination events with APH and UTMRC, but COTA will always be the one to remember. (Okay, that and the kitty ears that I had to wear at the children’s vaccination clinics).
My last UTMRC event was a Mental Health First-Aid Training offered by Refugee Wellness Texas in conjunction with the U.S Committee for Refugees and Immigrants. The training is meant for everyone, not just clinical personnel, to provide an understanding and sense of competency in dealing with mental health issues, and how to recognize, support, and provide appropriate resources.
The training frames mental health crises as a type of everyday emergency that we can all encounter or experience in our lives. It is not limited to strangers or people we see on the street, but often people we work with, live with, or encounter in other ways. Having a first aid kit in the form of the manual and skills that we cover, allows us to respond to these “early-stage mental illnesses and mental health crises” in a meaningful and appropriate way (Mental Health First ASid USA, 2017).
I love the volunteer opportunities that I have through the UTMRC group like the homebound visits and vaccination events, but I also love the access that my membership gives me to meaningful training and resources in other areas.