From the Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine:

KPSOM joins COVID vaccination effort

Student volunteers put classroom instruction into practice at local vaccine hub

April 02, 2021

Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine first year medical students practice intermuscular injections on task trainers in preparation for COVID vaccination volunteer work.

Pasadena, CA. – Students from the Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine (KPSOM) will help in the fight against COVID-19 at one of the state’s mass vaccination hubs on Saturday, April 3. Forty out of the 50-member inaugural class of first-year students have volunteered to put their skills training into practice at a Southern California vaccination site.

“We are thrilled that our students have the opportunity to participate in this critical public health effort. They are excited to be helping vaccinate people from a nearby community,” said Dr. Mark Schuster, Founding Dean and CEO of the Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine.

Students from the inaugural class will rotate through all procedural aspects of vaccine administration and distribution. These include registration and pre-vaccine evaluation, vaccine administration, post-vaccine evaluation, pharmacy (where they will observe vaccine preparation and storage), and health systems issues, such as outreach to underserved communities.

The medical students will operate under clinical supervision from KPSOM faculty. This provides a controlled learning environment and the opportunity for live feedback, while also enabling students to put their skills into practice to advance community health and deepen their studies.

“I’m so glad I can play an active part in helping end this pandemic and also put what I learned to immediate use on the front lines of the vaccine rollout,” said Alexis Gutierrez, first-year student at KPSOM.

KPSOM students have been well-prepared for the vaccination event. Just weeks into school, the entire student body is immersed in clinical settings as they learn alongside Kaiser Permanente physician preceptors and their care teams. The current volunteer initiative directly follows coursework and skills training in Hematology and Immunology that students completed in late March. 

Prework instruction was provided by Dr. Marla Law Abrolat, Assistant Chief of Pediatrics at Permanente Medicine and KPSOM Doctoring and Clinical Skills Director, and Dr. William J. Towner, Regional Physician Director, Division of Clinical Trials Research for Kaiser Permanente Southern California, and Principal Investigator for Infectious Diseases at Kaiser Permanente. Towner has been extensively involved in clinical trials for emerging medications and vaccines, including the Phase III clinical trial for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

“I talked to the students about my vaccine work and also went over some of the common concerns that come up around COVID-19 vaccination before moving on to allow students to practice intermuscular injections on task trainers,” said Towner, who serves as an Associate Professor and Phase 2 Doctoring Facilitator at KPSOM.

“The task trainers are close to a real arm that can be attached to a person, so it feels like they are giving the person a vaccine. It’s just another one of the cool teaching tools we have here at the Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine.” 

About the Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine

The Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine is devoted first and foremost to offering an outstanding, forward-thinking medical education.  Its curriculum is built on the three pillars of Biomedical Science, Clinical Science, and Health Systems Science. Students will think broadly about the ways care can be more effective for everyone and learn how to advocate for better health in homes, school, workplaces, neighborhoods, and society at large. The school incorporates many of the most innovative and effective educational practices available today and gives students the opportunity to learn from the physicians and care teams in Kaiser Permanente’s integrated healthcare system . This approach will provide future physicians with the knowledge and skills to play key roles in the transformation of healthcare in our nation and help people from all backgrounds and settings thrive. Learn more at