Nursing school is responsible for covering the basics for all kinds of nursing. Nursing internships can give you the skills that you can only learn through experience, such as time management and conflict resolution. An internship is usually administered by a hospital, where you will work alongside a particular nurse and learn the ropes. This usually happens during the summer between your first and second year of nursing school. The benefits of participating in these types of programs are abundant, but the spaces are usually limited. If you can get your hands on a nursing internship (sometimes called an externship), go for it!
Benefit #1: Explore a Specialty
Nursing internships usually take place on a specific unit. You will get to know the ins and outs of that specialty and see if it is where you see yourself in the future. Additionally, internships in some areas can help you get the job you want. If you get an internship in the ICU for example, you may be considered for a position in the ICU, where other new graduates wouldn't even get a second glance.
Benefit #2: The Hospital Gets to See You in Action
Hospitals offer internships to hire better trained nurses. They want their interns to be a part of their long-term staff, so if you are a great intern, they will hire you on the spot. Some internships come with a requirement to work for the facility, which saves you from searching for a job as a new graduate. It is also great for the hospital because they can hire a new graduate who has already been trained in their facility.
Benefit #3: Experience is the Best Teacher
Things you didn't learn in school will be your everyday learning experience. These include disorders you didn't cover, medications you never addressed and mental health problems demonstrated in vivid reality. Your skills and knowledge will grow tremendously. Additionally, nursing internships can help ease the transition from nursing school to real life nursing because you have a better idea of what to expect regarding your day to day responsibilities.
Benefit #4: Put Experience on Your Résumé
At graduation time, all hospitals prepare themselves for the new wave of graduates looking for jobs. A nursing internship on your résumé, especially in an area in which you are applying, can help you get the job you want. New graduate spots can be difficult to find, so a nursing externship can help get your foot in the door.
Benefit #5: You Will Have Bragging Rights
Imagine walking into the second year of nursing school with the experience of three months of full-time nursing work. You will have a serious leg up on your peers, and a stronger skill set and confidence in yourself that will help you take the next steps toward pursuing your career.
If you can get a nursing internship or externship, pursue that route. Look at local hospitals, and ask your nursing school if they know of any available programs. Then apply, apply, apply. These positions can be a serious benefit to you as you begin your nursing career.
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