Research Article

Rapid Development, Training, and Implementation of a Remote Health Profession’s Student Volunteer Corps During the COVID-19 Pandemic


Caley A. Satterfield, Michael L. Goodman, Philip Keiser, Cara Pennel, Aleisha Elliott, Leslie Stalnaker, Ami Cotharn, and Ruth Kai


Satterfield CA, Goodman ML, Keiser P, Pennel C, Elliott A, Stalnaker L, Cotharn A, Kai R. Rapid Development, Training, and Implementation of a Remote Health Profession's Student Volunteer Corps During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Public Health Rep. 2021 Nov-Dec;136(6):658-662. doi: 10.1177/00333549211042577. Epub 2021 Aug 30. PMID: 34460336; PMCID: PMC8579385.

Publication Date

December 2021

Publication Year




Public health in the United States has long been challenged by budget cuts and a declining workforce. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the vulnerabilities left by years of neglecting this crucial frontline defense against emerging infectious diseases. In the early days of the pandemic, the University of Texas Medical Branch and the Galveston County Health District (GCHD) partnered to bolster Galveston County’s public health response. We mobilized interprofessional teams of students and provided training to implement projects identified by GCHD as necessary for responding to the pandemic. We provided a safe outlet for students to contribute to their community by creating remote volunteer opportunities when students faced displacement from clinical rotations and in-person didactics converted to virtual formats. As students gradually returned to clinical rotations and didactic demands increased, it became necessary to expand volunteer efforts beyond what had initially been mostly hand-selected student teams. We have passed the initial emergency response phase of COVID-19 in Galveston County and are transitioning into more long-term opportunities as COVID-19 moves from pandemic to endemic. In this case study, we describe our successes and lessons learned.