Sunday, May 12, 2013

Externships: A Great Opportunity to Hone Skills & Gain Experience

I recently discovered while talking with one of my best friends in the nursing program that not all nursing students are aware of the wonderful opportunities provided by externships at their local hospitals. Unfortunately, in my friend's case she found out about them too late when all the deadlines were past. I was fortunate to find out about the externships in my area a year before I could actually participate, so I was able to research the requirements and gain the necessary qualifications in advance. 

There are many benefits to participating in a nursing externship. For one, you will gain valuable experience as you practice the skills you've learned in your nursing classes. Repetition will help to solidify your knowledge and give you the ability to perform tasks quickly and efficiently. Another benefit is that you will be able to apply theoretical knowledge you learn in nursing school in real-life situations in a hospital setting. Also, you will be able to make connections in the institution at which you work and may even be able to work there when you graduate!   

Most of the externships I have found have been for rising seniors. That being the case, this is the year for you,  rising juniors, to find out what opportunities are offered in your community and prepare yourself by collecting the instructor references you'll need as well as gaining the certifications required by the institution to which you are applying. Make sure to pay close attention to the deadlines for the externships you are interested in because the deadlines will likely fall during the heat of your first semester as a junior, making it easy to forget and miss a deadline. 

The externship I will be participating in this summer required both Nurse Aid level I and II certifications. I was able to become Nurse Aid I certified in the state of North Carolina by "challenging" the exam during the summer before my junior year. In Virginia I think you must acquire a letter from your Nursing Fundamentals instructor stating that you are qualified to take the exam before you can take the skills and written tests. In the state of North Carolina, I had to wait to become Nurse Aid II certified until I was a junior. Policies will likely vary by state.  

Some of you might be wondering, "Just how do I find out about externships in my area?" I found out about the externships in my area by doing internet searches using the key terms "nursing", "externship", and "internship". 

Stay tuned for future posts detailing the process of becoming Nurse Aid level I certified and a sample list of externship opportunities in the North Carolina and Virginia. 

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