CNA or Nurse Extern


Well it's about that time... to start applying for nurse extern positions (which I've already done). I am between a decision that doesn't seem very complicated but it is. See prior to nursing school I had no exposure to health care. Mostly all with the exception of about 3-4 students in my class work in healthcare in some form or another. I do fine in clinicals but there are some things that I am still not fluent with as I'd like to be and I feel that it slows me down.

Although I know I would get more exposure and experience as an RN if I take a Nurse Extern job, I still feel that I need to perform a few basic tasks on a regular basis to gain more familiarity FIRST. So I took a NA job at a Wonderful hospital that I am soooo excited to be with. SO much so, that I'd like to stay there once I become an RN. On the other hand, of all the Nurse extern jobs that I applied for, I have a feeling that I will be getting a call for an interview soon. Some of my classmates have already started getting calls, so it's just a matter of time.

If I am offered a position which would of course include more money and skills more applicable to my career path, I don't think I would want to take it, because I'd be giving up a really great hospital with a great manager and future opportunities in like 6 mos. Am I making the wrong decision? I know I have to do whats best for me, and although I wouldn't want to walk away from a job that I just started (today was my first day), I also don't want to ruin my chances of future employment with the hospital.

Somehow I feel as if I can get more comfortable in my job and my nurses are pretty cool and they trust me, they might show me some things and I'd be able to perform some nurse extern tasks under the supervision of an RN and this would be fine with me also. I don't care about the money, I want to get the best experience out of this. Am I making a big mistake, if I am offered a N.E job?

Sorry so long.... Back to my Patho paper.


3,362 Posts

Specializes in ICU/Critical Care.



322 Posts

Specializes in critical care, med/surg. Has 9 years experience.

I think that both opportunites will teach you the basics of patient care. NE jobs are more focused on the critical thinking skills that you will need as a new nurse, and allow you to participate in the more advanced skills that you'll need as a new grad. I would encourage you to take a NE job...I was a CNA for many years before becoming a RN, and I also worked as a NE. The nurse extern experience gave me time to practice my organizational skills and learn how to organize care of patients.


326 Posts

"The nurse extern experience gave me time to practice my organizational skills and learn how to organize care of patients. " I totally agree. I worked as an extern (with HFH) for 1 year. As working as an extern, I also floated to work as a CSP (which is a nurse assistant). I went in with NO experience except what I learned in nursing school. I worked on my organizational skills as an extern, but on the other hand, I worked and saw the hard, back breaking, invaluable work the CSPs did.


468 Posts


I am pretty inexperienced in the whole health care field and how all this works so I have a question about this. Are you applying for extern jobs for the summer already or to start right now? I applied for the St. John's summer program, but now I am worried that I missed my window to apply for regular extern jobs to start in the summer. I won't be done with med-surg 1 until may so I think this is too early for me.

Thanks in advance for any insight into how this works!


196 Posts

i know it should be a "no brainer" right? thats why i posted because the nurse extern job was what i was looking forward to since i started nursing school. i had gotten so disappointed, because i had my heart set to extern in the sicu which i applied for traumanurse07. unfortunately, i was told that they are only looking at students who either have hospital experience or icu experience (nurse assistant/care partner) so i can't even get an interview.

as far as the other units, i'm still waiting to hear back. i was told that the students who work for hfhs already would get precedence before the non-employees which i do understand, because they are pretty much accomodating the hfhs/hfcc students for the positions, and i'm just lucky to be in the program so there u have it.

so here's the catch orientation for the extern program begins on 3-9-09 if u were given a job. my hospital orientation for the na job is also 3-9-09 and that is non-negotiable as far as rescheduling. if i am offered a job i'd have to make a decision right then as to what i am going to do.

i feel like now because i'm not being considered for the sicu positions, i might as well take the na job because i really didn't want to do anything else. and if i'm going to be doing something else anyway, i might as well go somewhere that i know i will love and considering i'll be done with school in 6 months i'll already be lined up for a job where i'd want to be. i know i may not be making a very wise decision in regards to preparing for my career as an rn (taking a step backward) but maybe i won't get offered an extern job and then i wont have to make that decision.


3,362 Posts

Specializes in ICU/Critical Care.

Well, you can take the NA job. But since you don't start orientation until 3-9, you have time before you hear back for any extern positions. Why not accept the NA job and if you get called back for an interview for a NE position and get that job, you can withdraw from the NA job.

I don't know where your NA job is at but if thats where you want to be after graduation, you could go there if they are willing to offer you an RN job after you graduate.


322 Posts

Specializes in critical care, med/surg. Has 9 years experience.

Are they considering NAs for the SICU? My thought is that even if you don't get into the SICU right away, once you are working in the facility, you'll have a better chance for a position in the future...most employers are more likely to hire internally. Good luck to you!

Specializes in Emergency Room.

Aren't you under contract to stay at HFH for 2 years after you graduate?


3,362 Posts

Specializes in ICU/Critical Care.

I think thats the case if you use their loan forgiveness program. I never had to sign a contract saying I would stay two years so I don't know where this rumor is coming from.


124 Posts

Isn't there another extern program that also starts after May, when the semester ends? I thought I had heard or saw this somewhere.....


195 Posts

The one I know of is at UofM but there deadline for application was earlier in February.

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