Student Nursing Externships

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible to participate in the CHKD Nursing Student Extern Program?

The extern program is designed for students who have taken at least 2 full semesters of clinical rotations as part of their nursing program -- which means that most of our externs are in-between their junior and senior years of nursing schools. We accept students from all types of RN programs (ADN, Diploma, BSN, etc.) as long as they have had 2 semesters of clinical. It is not necessary that the clinical has included pediatrics. Many programs have peds in the senior year and we understand that.

How long is the program? When does the program start?

We run the program for 10 weeks -- from mid-May through early August -- but there is some flexibility. This allows externs to take a summer vacation whenever it works best for them and their families. The one week that we absolutely require is the first week of the program.

What is a typical work schedule like? Will I always be working on the same unit, or do the externs rotate to several different units?

Externs are assigned a "home unit" where they spend most all of their time -- and almost every unit in the hospital participates in the program. A typical schedule for most units is three 12-hour shifts per week – and that may include some night shifts and weekend shifts. Externs are also invited to spend an additional 4 hours of paid time visiting/observing on other units for a few weeks during the summer. This gives them a chance to see the rest of the hospital up close and may help some people make a more informed choice about career options later. These observational experiences are optional.

Does the program include classroom activities?

The first week of the program is spent primarily in the classroom as part of the orientation program. We also have a few classes sprinkled throughout the summer -- mostly focusing on career planning for nurses, but also including a few selected pediatric clinical topics. Our previous externs have told us that they don't want a lot of heavy classes in the summer, as this is their vacation from school.

What type of work do externs do? What clinical skills can externs perform?

We try to provide experiences for the externs that are much like the ones they will have the following year as a new graduate RN. We believe that introduction to the "real world" helps the students better make the transition from student to staff nurse later. The externs work a typical full time RN schedule and, paired with an RN preceptor, provide total nursing care for patients. The preceptor and the extern take a "1-nurse assignment" together and the extern can assist the preceptor with any and all nursing functions that those patients might need. The extern can perform some of the more basic functions (such as vital signs and routine hygiene) independently, without the preceptor in the room. However, for more advanced skills (such as medication administration), the RN preceptor must be directly involved in the procedure -- but the extern can be actively participating in it WITH the preceptor.

What about housing? Will I need a car?

We recommend that you arrange your own housing before you commit to the program.

How many positions are available? How many applicants are you expecting? What is your timetable for processing applications?

We plan on offering 8 - 10 positions this summer, based on the needs of our organization. Our application deadline is February 15th ;we conduct telephone interviews over the following few weeks and notify applicants of our selections in late March.

Where can I get more information?

For more information, call or e-mail Linda Grasmick, Program Coordinator, at 757-668-8463. You can also contact Janice Poole, Nurse Recruiter.