Mobilizing Volunteers to Help Immunize the Austin Community

Dr. Li-Chen Lin with UTMRC Team

Meet Li-Chen Lin, PhD, RN, CNRN, and a UT Austin School of Nursing Clinical Assistant Professor of Adult Health Nursing. Dr. Lin (MSN ’03, PHD ’09) has focused her research on nurse’s work environments, resilience, role transitions, as well as quality and safety in healthcare. Her current projects aim to examine resilience among nurses working in long term care or rehabilitation settings and to investigate whether demographics, professional quality of life, and sleep quality are significant predictors of nurses’ resilience.

In addition to her teaching and research roles, Dr. Lin has stepped up to lead the UT Medical Reserve Corps (UTMRC), a team of community and university leaders dedicated to recruiting, training, and mobilizing volunteers to help immunize the Austin community from the COVID-19 virus. After the terrorist attacks in 2001 and relief efforts needed in Hurricane Katrina, the UT Medical Reserve Corps (UTMRC) was formed to organize medical and public health professionals to volunteer in support of emergency relief activities in Austin and the university community.

Concerned with the growing pandemic in early March 2020, the UTMRC leadership team, led by Dr. Lin, anticipated the need to prepare and respond in case the University asked the team to assist with this public health emergency. Dr. Lin helped local, state and regional Medical Reserve Corps offices to implement a variety of emergency plans to respond to likely pandemic scenarios. Other collaborations included: the Texas Disaster Volunteer Registry, Capital Area of Texas Regional Advisory Council, Austin Public Health and the University of Texas Office of Emergency Preparedness. Together they planned and implemented the best strategies to support efforts to address the COVID-19 crisis in Austin. Initial efforts included plans to train staff to help with mass testing and to support alternate care sites. When vaccines became available, UTMRC was called in by the University to assist the School of Nursing and UT Health Austin in staffing on-campus vaccine clinics.

Today, thanks to Dr. Lin and her team, there are over 500 active, deployable clinical and non-clinical members of UTMRC who are volunteering at Gregory Gym, mobile clinics including Vaccination Administration Mobile Operations (VAMOS) and Vaccinate, No Waste (VaxNow), and the Ascension vaccine clinic at the Circuit of the Americas. UTMRC volunteers from the community work closely with the Schools of Nursing, College of Pharmacy, School of Social Work and Dell Medical School, as well as university personnel, to support the efforts of UT Austin’s vaccination hub initially at the Health Discovery Building and then Gregory Gym.

We honor Dr. Li-Chen Lin for her leadership in mobilizing the UT Medical Reserve Corps ahead of the pandemic, and for her commitment to safe guarding the health of our community!