FEATURED ARTICLE | SEPTEMBER 20, 2016 | BY MAOR PURNSRIAN, UB SCHOOL OF NURSING TRADITIONAL CLASS OF 2017
At the end of spring semester, nursing students face an important decision: To intern, or not to intern?
Summer is precious to nursing students. We can be short on time, short on rest – but we should never be short on willingness to continue our growth outside of the classroom. That’s why a summer nursing internship can bring so much more value to our education.
Although the application process may induce anxiety, the benefits that can be gained from a summer internship are invaluable. Having just finished a summer nursing student internship for South Nassau Communities Hospital – and from speaking to many other students – I can attest first hand that the experience will begin to shape you as a nurse. And, you will carry it with you throughout your career.
Some students may ask themselves, “What is the difference between a nursing internship and clinical?” The main difference – you get to work side-by-side with a professional nurse, transforming your learning experience. With one professor assigned to eight to 10 students in clinical, it can be difficult to ask questions. Working with one preceptor for the summer allows you to ask as many questions as you want (and, trust me, you will have a lot), as well as learn his or her style of nursing. It is comforting to know that your preceptor is there with you to watch and help you grow.
The more questions you ask and the more you are willing to try something new, the more confidence you will gain. I cannot tell you the number of times I have been offered to do something I have never tried before. Although I made mistakes, I am proud that I learned from them and improved in the next opportunity. And, if you have an amazing preceptor like I did, he or she will continue to acknowledge your improvements and introduce you to many different practices. By the time my internship was over, I felt that with a few more weeks of training I really could be a good nurse – and that is the best feeling in the world.
This may be the most important benefit of a summer internship. Throughout my program I was able to meet many nurses, doctors and specialists, all of whom saw my enthusiasm as a student. Having been trained by professionals at your internship site shows initiative, which is a big advantage when applying to jobs or fellowships in your senior year. And, if your preceptor can envision you as a potential future colleague, he or she may provide a valuable job reference.
A summer nursing internship is essential for the enthusiastic student looking to further enhance what is learned in the classroom. I am truly grateful to have been a part of such a wonderful program that has showed me not only how to be a nurse, but, more importantly, what it means to be a nurse.
For more information about Maor’s internship experience, come to the next Multicultural Nursing Student Association meeting on November 14, 2016.
Internships or related employment probably are the best way to spend the summer between junior and senior year. If for any reason you are not able to do an internship over the summer, there are other things you can do. You could volunteer in a clinically relevant capacity, such as on a med-surg floor in a hospital, or possibly in an ICU or NICU, or maybe in an Emergency Department. Check hospital website for details and contacts. Such volunteer positions likely will not be as intensive as an internship, but they keep you in touch with the clinical environment and working professional nurses. Volunteer positions also can help you learn where and how you might want to work after graduation.
Internships are more intensive and extensive, but if an internship is not an option for you, volunteering can be useful to your own development, useful to clinical staff where you volunteer, and hopefully valuable to patients. You might also consider taking clinically relevant courses like the ACLS or PALS courses. Employers usually pay for those if you're already hired, so it might seem like a needless expense to pay for them yourself, but it's often only about $120 to $160 for the ACLS or PALS class. If you don't do an internship or take and regular classes, maybe one of those would be interesting and useful.
-Joe Lynch, UB SON Traditional Class of 2017