Successful without an Externship?

  1. Good morning all you happy people, I need some thoughts and opinions on this topic. How important do you think it is to do an externship while in nursing school? How do you feel about graduating without ever having worked in a hospital? This is a debate I've heard at school and thought I'd bring it here to see what you all thought.

    *yawn* I'm so sleepy, little one is ill and I think I got 3 hours of sleep last night. Anyone have a pillow?
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  2. 13 Comments

  3. by   traumaRUs
    I think you can be successful w/o an externship. Some people due to circumstances can't work during school. I do always encourage students that I precept to ensure they are being realistic when working in a hospital. A lot of stress is just knowing where to find things and how things are done.
  4. by   orrnlori
    I think you could do fine without it but I think it's invaluable to see what nursing is really like versus what you are taught in school. School does not reflect real life at all. I worked in a private hospital as a CNA one summer. It taught me I didn't want to work in a private hospital and upon graduation I came to the university hospital. I wouldn't have known the difference if I hadn't done that summer in the private hoity-toity hospital. But that's just me.
  5. by   chris_at_lucas_RN
    I think it also has to do with how your hospital defines "nurse extern."

    When you interview, ask them about job activities, duties, responsibilities. Then ask them about the job activities, duties and responsibilities for PCT's (or aides, or whatever they are called in your area).

    If they don't have a good answer, spare yourself the trouble unless you want the work no matter what. If you are just a PCT with a quasi-title, you may be better off spending your time studying and not risk working yourself to a frazzle while being mistreated by the professional staff.

    Some hospitals are "nurse friendly," and some are not. The ones that are also value their externs.
  6. by   purplemania
    Our externs are still unlicensed personnel, so they cannot BY LAW do much more than an aide or nursing assistant. HOWEVER, the nurses are encouraged to bring them in to assist with all sorts of procedures, learn phlebotomy and IV starts, etc. They learn how a chart goes together, who the docs are, how to transcribe orders, how to do vital signs (amazing how many people do that incorrectly or do not followup with nurse), all sorts of stuff. And they get paid more than the aide. So I think it is a worthwhile job, but ONLY if you have time for it. If it interferes with school then quit. You can't be a nurse if you flunk nursing school. I had never worked in a hospital before I got my license. Just knowing the culture would have helped me adjust, I believe.
  7. by   llg
    I coordinate the extern program at my hosptial and agree with the other posters in this thread. A GOOD extern program (and they are not all good) can help your career -- but it is not a necessary thing. It is like many choices in life ... you have to look at the pros and cons for your particular situation and then make the choice that seems best for your particular situation, knowing that you will have to live with the consequences of your decision.

    Many years ago, when I was an undergraduate, I had to choose between participating in an excellent extern program vs a scholarship to study abroad. I chose the summer abroad. Many times, I have wondered how my career (and my life) might have turned out differently had I made the other choice. I would have learned skills that summer that would have helped me to avoid some career problems that still plague me. And you never know, who I might have met, what I might have done, etc. We can always speculate about "the road not taken" -- but it is only speculation.

    I don't regret my choice to turn down the externship in favor of study abroad. My summer studying political science at Oxford was extraordinary -- one of the highlights of my life. While that experience has not had an obvious impact on my career (as the externship might have), it has helped to make me who I am as an educator, nurse philosopher, and scholar. Yes, I came back for my senior year of nursing school less "practiced" and less clinically skilled than my classmates. But that was the choice I made and I have been willing to stand by it all these years. While my nursing career has not been perfect, it has been OK and most people would consider me successful.

    So ... if there is a good extern program available to a student ... and that student feels that it is right for him/her... then I would recommend taking advantage of that opportunity, even if it means a little sacrifice. However, if that is not the case, I wouldn't worry about it. There are lots of different routes to a successful career. We don't all have to follow the same path.

    llg
  8. by   chris_at_lucas_RN
    I had classmates who were assigned to different units than mine. Some did more aide type tasks, and others (by far fewer though) did nothing more than follow an RN around.

    Externs and aides all must be able to do the aides' tasks. Aides at my hospital have to vitals; keep track of I's and O's; check blood glucose; transport, reposition, draw blood from, bathe and clean up patients. Externs also can start and stop IV's; insert and remove foleys; enter orders on the computer; transcribe med orders onto the MAR from the doc's orders. I knew of ONE whose "buddy RN" (she was the only one of us who had one) let her pass meds and titrate IV's.

    Not saying I agree or disagree with any of this, just saying what it is at the hospital where I am employed as a nurse extern.
  9. by   KimRN03
    I was an intern on an orthopedic floor the summer before I graduated. It has been VERY valuable for me. After my internship I stayed on as a nursing assistant and was hired by my nurse manager as a graduate nurse 3 months before I even graduated. I made many contacts, learned so many things from my preceptors and became organized! It made my transistion as a new RN so much easier. I know the routine of the floor, where everything is and know the staff. I have some friends who did not work in hospitals, and now as new RN's say how difficult it has been for them. Not saying that it's not possible to be a successful new grad without having worked in a hospital, but it certainly helps. Looks great on the resume too!
  10. by   Love-A-Nurse
    hello, marie!

    let us know what you decide to do.
  11. by   kimmicoobug
    I had never worked in a hospital or in any kind of medical environment when I took my job after grad. I just had my review a week ago, and my director gave me a great review and said she was pleased with the grads this year.
  12. by   hock1
    I have no experience beyond nursing school. It didn't hurt or help me find employment as a new RN. The hospital where I hired requires ten day orientation for all RN's no matter the experience: legal stuff, customer service, a math test, and an indepth skills series, etc. So not working and getting hands on didn't hurt me a bit. It does however make my orientation longer. Good luck
  13. by   kimhaw
    This is a very good question b/c the only work experience I am going to be able to do is in the summer. I know some students who work 3 12hour shifts a week and I just don;t see how they can do it. I personally know two people who have flunked out of nursing school while work as a pct during school. In my opinion 12 hours is too much along w/going to nursing school also.
  14. by   EmeraldNYL
    I did a one year accelerated BSN program, so I didn't have time to work, so no externship for me. I started in an ICU and am doing fine. I think an externship can only help you though, so if you have the time, it may really help you gain some valuable experience.

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