Although it is a bit early to start applying to nurse externship programs, many hospitals have already started advertising for various programs they offer. As someone who has completed a student nurse externship, a lot of my underclassmen friends have started to ask me questions about the experience: Was it paid? What sort of work did you do? How did you apply? Was it worth it?
This past summer, I was lucky enough to participate in the Susan D. Flynn Oncology Nursing Fellowship at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP). This program is designed for nursing students who are interested in the oncology and plan on pursing a career in that field in the future. Two students were chosen from Penn, and two from Villanova, to be placed at HUP for the externship program, which hosts students in a multitude of hospitals in different states. We were able to work with patients on hospital floors, shadow outpatient care providers, visit radiation centers and chemotherapy infusion sites, as well as shadow providers, social workers, and nurses working in palliative care and hospice services.
Although a lot of what I did during the externship mirrored the work I’ve done in my clinical rotations during the year, the program gave me the chance to really immerse myself in the field. I worked full-time during the week, got to know the staff at the hospital so well, and was able to work with the same patients over a long period of time, enabling me to develop a really special relationship with a lot of them. It made me feel so much more confident in my abilities as a future nurse, and solidified the fact that this is the field I’m meant to work in.
It’s also important to recognize that lot of what you do during an externship mirrors what you’ll be doing as a new nurse starting out. If you aren’t able to work at a hospital over the summer, you’ll still be able to grow and learn at your first job. An externship is just a supplemental experience, and a great chance for you to figure out what field you might want to work in.
Externships are an incredibly opportunity that are very much worth it if you are able to get into one. My experience was fantastic, and I’m so glad I applied! Most hospitals have listings on their website, but if you’d like to learn more about the Flynn Fellowship, check out their website: http://sdfondp.com/ .