CUMBERLAND — Cheryl Nelson was honored with Allegany College of Maryland’s 2021 Community Engagement Award for her work organizing rotations for allied health students at local COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites hosted by the Allegany County Health Department and UPMC Western Maryland during the spring semester.
Students and faculty donated thousands of volunteer hours to the community’s efforts to combat COVID transmission. In addition to scheduling students, Nelson coordinated faculty to monitor them during clinical hours, frequently working shifts herself and offering hands-on instruction, according to one of her nominators, Brenda Owens, a nursing professor and Nurse Managed Wellness Clinic instructor. “Her dedication to students, the college and the community shines through every day in all of the work she does,” said Owens.
“Students remarked about how good it felt to be part of a process that was making the community a safer place and were surprised by how much they loved this type of community work. They worked at the Allegany County Health Department’s Community Room, UPMC Western Maryland, the Barton Business Park Shell Building and also at local senior housing. This met a great need for the health department as they had many vacancies to fill for nurses to administer vaccines,” said Owens.
Drawing on those experiences, Nelson and Owens presented on the topic of “Alternative Clinical Education Opportunities for Undergraduate Nursing Students During COVID-19” during the Maryland Action Coalition’s Meeting Challenges Head On: Maryland Nurses Respond virtual conference in May.
David Jones, ACM vice president of advancement and community relations and director of the ACM Foundation, also nominated Nelson for the award. “Cheryl, through her community engagement efforts, ensured that students were provided hands-on, practical service to further serve and provide healing for our community,” said Jones.
Nelson was also recognized for serving as the COVID Command Team’s contact for allied health students experiencing a possible COVID-19 exposure and/or a positive test.
A graduate of ACM, Nelson received a doctor of nursing practice from Johns Hopkins University, post-master’s certificate in women’s health from West Virginia University and bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing from Shenandoah University. A family and women’s health nurse practitioner, Nelson directs the college’s Nurse Managed Wellness Clinic and has been a nursing faculty member since 2008.