Externships are WONDERFUL!! - page 3

I started my externship at the local hospital about 3 weeks ago, and I can't believe how much I've learned already, after just 4 shifts on the floor. After another 2 weeks, I will have more floor nursing experience after a month... Read More

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    I only have a year left before graduation. I just sent my application for an extern position. I am hoping I get hired. Most of My classmates have worked as externs for almost a year now. Experienced wise, I'm already a year behind. THe clinicals have not been helpful, because I havent done any IV starts, foley cath insertion, removal, NG tube insertion, all those good stuff.... Do you folks think i can gain a lot of experience with only 8 months before graudation? (assuming I work 2, 8 hour shifts a week or 20 hours a week during school, and full time during the winterbreak). 1 year is not as much as 2 years of experience working as extern, but I'll take the 1 year and learn as much as I can.

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    Quote from Animaniacs
    Do you folks think i can gain a lot of experience with only 8 months before graudation? (assuming I work 2, 8 hour shifts a week or 20 hours a week during school, and full time during the winterbreak). 1 year is not as much as 2 years of experience working as extern, but I'll take the 1 year and learn as much as I can.
    You should be fine as long as the externship program is a good one. Some of them are nothing but CNA positions so you need to be careful about which program you go into. Ask around and find out what the program is like. I'd also watch your work hours ... you don't want to work so much that you jeopardize your school work and graduation.

    Last edit by Sheri257 on Jul 5, '05
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    I did an externship in a transplant unit for almost a year, and I am in the ICU now. I learned so much and made 15 bucks an hour doing it. I encourage anyone doing it to switch up units as often as possible (if thats an option) and and take advantage of the opportunity to see your career options after graduation. You have forever to practice minor skills, but you will not get another opportunity to see how a unit is run, how you click with nurses in a certain place, how the physicians and managers treat the nurses, how YOU like OB, surgerey, etc., and most people will tell you its more difficult to switch units after graduation because both managers have to approve. And most importantly, go into it with an open mind and be flexible. I thought when I started nursing school that I wanted to be a transplant nurse and it took me a year to realize that I am more of a realist than I thought I was, and I didn't like transplant at all. Good luck to all the externs-- and carpe diem-- be (annoyingly) assertive to get all of the experience you can.
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    Quote from Animaniacs
    ... Do you folks think i can gain a lot of experience with only 8 months...
    Easy question there. You're only gonna get tons!

    Just finished week two of my externship, which lasts only two months. Already I've been in on so many things I didn't get a chance to experience as a patient care tech. Wish ours was eight months!

    You're very lucky. Get involved in as much as you can. Ask lots of questions. Follow patients to other units when they're transferred for additional care, procedures, etc. Check out the paperwork, computer operation, code protocols, crash cart, etc.

    Don't shy away from trying new skills. Do them as they show you, even if it's different than how you were taught in school.

    Good luck!
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    Quote from lizz
    Here's what I've learned about externships ...

    You really have to be aggressive about it in school. They don't always tell you about externships and there is often misinformation ... like when you can start. Some hospitals will take you after just one semester of nursing school. Other hospitals want you to finish at least two semesters. Don't listen to rumors. Find out first hand from the hospitals and the school administrator in charge of externships how the program really works.

    At my school you also have to sign up for cooperative education to do it. If you don't, you can get in big trouble with the Board of Nursing. One student got kicked out of nursing school all together for not simultaneously registering for the required course work that accompanies the externship.

    Also, at my school, you can do the skills that you have been checked off on in lab or clinical. It's great because you can practice skills as soon as you've been taught them in school. But you need to keep copies of your check offs so you can document that you're only doing the skills allowed under the program. That way you're also covered with the Board of Nursing.

    The bottom line is: Be careful to find out about all of the rules and follow them carefully.

    Not all externships are equal. Some hospitals do nothing but assign students CNA work. Other hospitals implement more "real" externships where you might do some CNA but are also assigned to RN's for lots of training. Find out which hospitals have the best programs.

    And ... speaking of CNA ... don't be a primma donna. Some students felt they were above CNA work, refused to do it, and the hospitals did fire them. But once you prove you're a team player and do the CNA work, the RN's go out of their way to help train you and give you lots of RN skills ... or, at least, that's been my experience.

    Externships are often competitive and the early bird does get the worm. Before I was even eligible, I started interviewing two months before the semester was over so I could get the slots left vacant by graduating students. So I was already set before other people applied who had to fight for vacancies.

    Some externships will take you all the way through nursing school, including summer and winter breaks, with no time limits. And some programs are really flexible too. With my hospital, we completely set our own schedule. I only have to work six shifts the entire semester although, I choose to do more than that. And, if I have a test coming up, they usually let me skip work that week. It's great if you can find a really flexible program.

    Oh ... and my externship pays $10 an hour.

    Hope this helps.

    Thanks for all the good information!
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    I have one of those externships that is actually a patient care tech position. Actually I have two; one in SICU and the other on a tele floor. The one on the tele floor is of no use to me for my future as a nurse. Really, the nurses couldn't be bothered. The SICU position is a different matter altogether. My first night on the unit, I assisted the nurses and the doctors with just about everything, including a resucitation and a bedside swan ganz (cardiac cath) insertion. What I guess I'm saying is, don't turn down a position just because it might be a nursing assistant job. The units and the ER are great places to learn in any clinical capacity.
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    I definitely agree! I am doing an externship this summer and it has been wonderful. I learn new things every day and feel so much more confident with my nursing skills. In the program I'm in we get to do most of the things an RN does but with supervision. I would highly recommend it to anyone wanting more experience before graduating!
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    Good for you on holding out and getting what you want, Klone! I am so happy for you! This thread has been of interest to me, makes me really want to get out there in the clinical arena. School starts for me Friday! Yikes!

    Quote from klone
    Yep, I interviewed for a position at another hospital last fall (they took on externs after only one semester). You do get a competitive hourly wage, but they consider the externship as training/education, and as such, have put a price tag on it. For every month you work as an extern, you owe them one month as a new grad RN after graduation. If you choose not to work for them after graduation, you have to pay them $100 for every month you owe them. If I had taken the position and then decided not to work for them as a new grad, I would have had to pay $1800 to buy out my contract with them. Between that and the 90-minute drive (one way), I opted to hold out for an externship at the local hospital. The gamble paid off and I couldn't be happier!

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