Nurse externships occur while a student is still in nursing school. They are meant to give the nursing student more clinical experience and confidence prior to graduation. Nurse externs work under the supervision of an experienced registered nurse serving as coach. Nurse externs may also have the opportunity to take nursing workshops and attend conferences during the extern period. Nurse externships also help new nurses gain exposure to nursing specialties, such as pediatrics or geriatric nursing.
Nurse externs assist the mentor nurse in regular nursing duties. They usually may not administer medications or begin IVs by themselves, but can assist in these and a number of other procedures. Nurse externs may also provide or assist with personal patient care such as bathing, oral hygiene, dressing, and changing bed linens.
Different nurse externships have differing requirements, but in general, the nurse extern must currently be enrolled in a nursing program and have completed at least one year or nursing school. They may be required to have completed at least clinical nursing course prior to the externship.
Nurse extern salaries can vary according to institution, specialty, state and program, but according to Indeed.Com, annual salaries for nurse externs in 2009 were $30,000 per year.
There are many benefits to participating in a nurse externship program. Student nurses are paid well while studying under the program, and gain valuable work and clinical experience prior to graduation.
Nurse externs learn to perform duties common to the departments they are training in, such as triage, resuscitation, general patient care, charting and patient assessment. Nurse externs can generally not perform any duties independently, but must work under the direct supervision and approval of the registered nurse serving as mentor and coach.