Nursing externships offer work experience and a pay check!
Nursing student Brianne Zander describes the benefits of a summer externship:
Last summer, I was a nurse extern at Penn State M. S. Hershey Medical Center in the Neuroscience Critical Care Unit. I thought I would enhance my knowledge, gain on-the-job experience, and learn more about which direction I wanted to go in nursing. What I gained was so much more!
Nurse externs work as patient care technicians in a hospital setting under the guidance of a preceptor and “earn while they learn.” York College faculty members were very supportive of my decision to become a nurse extern. Dr. Kimberly Fenstermacher said, “I’m a firm believer in students taking advantage of nurse externship programs in order to ease the transition from student to registered nurse."
The staff of the Neuroscience Critical Care Unit welcomed me to this new world. The nurses were enthusiastic teachers, explaining each step as they performed complex nursing interventions. A normal day included A-lines, CRRT, ECMO and EVDs (that’s arterial lines, continuous renal replacement therapy, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, and external ventricular drain!).
I worked full-time day and night shifts during the 10-week program. As I took on a growing role, I developed close bonds with some of the patients. Many patients have complex diagnoses; some may not survive a day or a month. These patients, and their friends and family, depend on you during the most challenging times of their lives. Caring for them not only advanced my nursing abilities—it changed my outlook on life and humanity.
This was one of the best decisions I've made. Even though I received financial compensation, I could not put a price on what I gained from externing. It transformed me as a nurse and as a person. I am better equipped to care for patients requiring high acuity care.
Next summer, I’ll be an extern in the Heart and Vascular Critical Care Unit at Hershey. I wholeheartedly recommend the extern experience to other nursing students!
View some examples of externships.
Check with your local hospital to see if an externship program is offered!