Student Nurse Externships

The Summer Externship for 2015 will be based on a new model, with details to follow at a later date.

Get a head start on your future by taking advantage of this opportunity to work side-by-side with our Nursing team at Penn State Hershey Medical Center.  This is a ten-week program for nursing students entering their senior year.

A Unique Learning Experience

Combining actual work experience with education, our summer Nurse Externship for nursing students is designed to promote individualized learning while providing participants with a distinctive advantage in their professional development. Students will share in the unique challenges that occur every day at our Magnet facility, and enjoy personal growth and skills advancement as a result.

The program begins with a formalized two-week orientation including both classroom and clinical components on day-shift and off-shift rotations. Under the direction of a Registered Nurse, a Nurse Extern will perform basic bedside care and selected nursing procedures. Opportunities may also exist for extra educational programs offered by Nursing Education and Professional Development.

 

General Externship Questions
What is the Extern Program?

Is this a paid Externship?
How many positions are available?

Application Questions
How do I apply?
Is there a minimum GPA for acceptance?
I was an Extern last year.  Do I need to reapply?
Besides completing the online application, what else will I need to do?
What is the difference between Unofficial and Official Transcripts?
Which transcripts do I need to submit for the Externship?
May I send all my information by US Postal Service?
If I submit my portfolio immediately, do I have a better chance of being hired?
Do I need written references from my professors?

Interview Questions
Am I guaranteed an interview if I apply?
Will I interview wherever I want to work?
When will interviews be conducted?
On what criteria is the hiring decision made?
What can I do to prepare for the interview?
Do you have any advice for the interview?
When will selections be made?

During the Externship Questions
What shift will I be working?
Will there be time available for vacations?
Is on-campus housing available?
What uniforms will I need?

After the Externship Questions
As an Extern will I have a better chance at securing a Graduate Nurse Residency when I graduate?
What happens after the Externship ends?

General Externship Questions

What is the Extern Program?

The Externship is a full-time, ten-week summer program that facilitates the learning process through hands-on experience, and instills confidence in the student nurse who participates. In addition to working in the capacity of a Patient Care Assistant and Patient Sitter, a Nurse Extern relies on his/her preceptor for inclusion in the daily educational activities of the nursing unit. In addition the Department of Nursing Education plays a vital role in the Extern experience.

Is this a paid Externship?

Yes. An Extern is paid $13/hour.

How many positions are available?

We are currently projected to hire approximately 35 Externs for summer 2015. We will likely receive 250 applications, so the program is quite competitive.

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Application Questions

How do I apply?

Between September 1 and November 1, 2014 the jobs will be posted on the website. Please read all the guidelines and then apply online.

Is there a minimum GPA for acceptance?

Preference is given to a GPA of 3.0 or higher.

I was an Extern last year. Do I need to reapply?

Yes, you will need to go through the entire application process, and put forth your best effort to secure an opportunity to interview. If you are still employed with us as an LPN, Patient Sitter, CNA, Extern, or otherwise, please apply online using the "internal" application. If you are still on payroll at PSHMC, you will not need to be drug screened or fingerprinted again. Also, you will be exempt from much of the new hire paperwork.

Besides completing the online application, what else will I need to do?

Once your application is submitted, you may submit your Professional Portfolio, which will include:

  • Resume – include all education and experience, including dates

  • Cover letter – unless you have a burning desire for a specific specialty, it will be to your advantage NOT to specify in the cover letter the precise units where you want to work, but rather indicate the broader specialties, i.e. Acute Care (medical-surgical), Intensive/Critical Care, Intermediate Care, Oncology, Mother-Child, or Emergency. The rationale for keeping it general is that you may need to consider more than one area in order to be chosen.

  • Unofficial transcript – can be found on your school's website

At some point in the process, you will receive an electronic Questionnaire. This is an important document and should be completed thoughtfully and thoroughly, as this will determine which units view your Portfolio.

What is the difference between Unofficial and Official transcripts?

  1. Unofficial transcripts can be viewed by you and printed from your school's website at will.

  2. Official transcripts are mailed from your Bursar's Office, with your school's official seal (not needed)..

Which transcripts do I need to submit for the Externship?

Please email a copy of your most recent unofficial transcript (showing your name) as part of the application portfolio.

May I send all my information by US Postal Service?

Please do not. We prefer to receive everything electronically. It is recommended that you email your entire Professional Portfolio simultaneously via email attachments. This ensures the efficient receipt and storage of all documents. Please covert each document to PDF format and name it appropriately by your last name, first name – document. Example: Doe, Jane – Resume. The email address is lmccleary1@hmc.psu.edu

If I submit my portfolio immediately, do I have a better chance of being hired?

It is helpful to us, and therefore advantageous to you if your Portfolio is submitted early.  However,  all the submitted portfolios will then be reviewed with equal discernment, regardless of the date they were received, provided they make the deadline of November 1, 2014. 

Do I need written references from my professors?

No. At some point in the process, you will receive an email requesting seven email addresses of people who are familiar with your quality of work. Therefore, you will want to use professors, instructors, supervisors, past employers, coaches, and at most, one peer. The reference check will then be conducted electronically. Please let your references know ahead of time that they will receive a survey that is quick, easy, accurate, anonymous, but time sensitive and must be completed promptly.

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Interview Questions

Am I guaranteed an interview if I apply?

Only about 50% of those who apply will be granted a face-to-face interview. Managers will decide who to interview based on the Professional Portfolio, which you will submit electronically after you submit your application.

Will I interview wherever I want to work?

If you have a burning desire to work in a particular area we will attempt to schedule interviews with one of your two top choices. Keep in mind, though, that some specialties are more popular than others, and being granted an interview in those areas may be more challenging. It is best to keep your options open, and remember that this is a 10-week program that will be beneficial regardless of where you work.

When will interviews be conducted?

We have set aside two days for interviews over the Winter break.

On what criteria is the hiring decision made?

Different managers will place varying degrees of emphasis on hiring criteria, but in general they look at GPA, past experience, references, and interview score. They are seeking applicants who will bring a positive influence to their team.

What can I do to prepare for the interview?

  • Plan Ahead. Research Penn State Hershey and the nursing unit. Review your work experiences, and be ready to support past career and school accomplishments with specific information targeted toward the needs of PSHMC.

  • Dress appropriately. This is a competitive job interview, dress professionally, preferably in a suit.

  • Be on time. It is best to arrive at the interview area 5 minutes before the scheduled interview time. If you find that you are too early, you may visit our Starbuck's coffee shop or gift shop in the east wing lobby.

Do you have any advice for the interview?

  • Awareness. - An interview is a two-way exchange of information. In addition to researching PSHMC, demonstrate your interest by formulating questions in advance to ask the interviewer.

  • Eye Contact - Maintain eye contact with your interviewer. Demonstrate that you want the job with your interest in the position, and in that particular nursing unit.

  • Positive Attitude - In particular, avoid negative comments about past employers or professors.

  • Active Listening and Adaptation - Be sensitive to the style of the interviewer. Pay attention to details, as they may offer helpful clues to assist you in tailoring your presentation.

  • Ability to Relate - Try to relate your answers to the interviewer and to PSHMC. Focus mostly on achievements that would be relevant to the position. Provide answers that are specific to the questions.

When will selections be made?

Selections will be made by mid-February, 2015.

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During the Externship Questions

What shift will I be working?

As a Nurse Extern, your offer letter will indicate a varied shift, and you must be willing and able to rotate to all three shifts. Your full-time status must be maintained for the entire length of the Externship. Early termination from the program may negatively affect your future employment at Penn State Hershey.

Will there be time available for vacations?

This is a 10-week program, and externs are expected to be available during the entire program. Because the program runs from May - July 2015, there should be time in August for vacations.

Is on-campus housing available?

Housing is available on campus for a fee. For details, visit our housing website. Students are fully responsible for the coordination of housing accommodations.

What uniforms will I need?

While a few units provide scrubs, for most areas you will be responsible for the purchase and care of white scrub pants, and polo shirts. The shirts may be bought elsewhere, or through a company vender.

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After the Externship Questions

As an Extern will I have a better chance at securing a Graduate Nurse Residency when I graduate?

While each applicant is evaluated individually, having previously participated in an externship can tip the scales between two otherwise equally qualified Graduate Nurse Resident candidates.

What happens after the Externship ends?

You may elect to terminate, or if you have proven yourself to be a model employee, you may remain on staff as a PRN Extern (in the float pool) at the same rate of pay. You submit your available hours to the Central Staffing Office and are then scheduled to work as needed. You must work at least 3 shifts per three-month period to remain PRN. This arrangement is especially helpful to our staff over weekends and holidays, and can continue until you graduate.

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PRIMARY PURPOSEPrimary Purpose of the Job

Responsible to a Registered Nurse for performing basic bedside care and selected nursing procedures.

ESSENTIAL FUNCTIONS:  The percentage of time spent performing essential functions is 97%.  Qualified individuals must have the ability (with or without reasonable accommodation) to perform the following duties:

  1. Utilize communication skills via patient call system, house telephone, wireless telephones, and document on patient medical record.
  2. Assist with the admission, discharge or transfer of patients.
  3. Provide for patient hygiene, oral care, bathing and indwelling catheter care.
  4. Assist with dietary activities by feeding patients, giving extra nourishments, distributing drinking water and measuring and recording intake and output.
  5. Record patient weights and collect specimens.
  6. Measure and record dependent closed wound drainage and urinary output. Also measure and record vital signs.
  7. Provide care for patients in isolation following appropriate isolation techniques.
  8. Provide postmortem care.
  9. Report any changes in progress of patients or critical situation to a Registered Nurse.
  10. Observe diagnostic and surgical procedures for the benefit of enhancing own knowledge.
  11. Transport patients for studies.
  12. Attend and contribute to multidisciplinary rounds.
  13. Provide one on one care for patients as assigned.

NON-ESSENTIAL FUNCTIONS: The percentage of time spent performing secondary functions is 3%.  The following duties are considered secondary to the essential duties listed above:

Perform other duties as assigned 

  • Acute Care (3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th Floor, HVPCU)
  • Intensive/Critical Care Units (MICU, SICU, NICU)
  • Neuroscience Critical Care Unit
  • Intermediate Care Units (MIMCU, HVIMC, PIMCU)
  • Hematology/Oncology
  • Pediatrics
  • Women's Health


*Units are subject to change due to staffing requirements.

Philosophy on Baccalaureate in Nursing Preparation

The vision for the Department of Nursing is that the innovations of our staff leaders contribute to the advancement of quality care, academic excellence, and the development of new knowledge that promote health and wellness nationally.  This vision is grounded in nursing research that demonstrates a relationship among formal educational preparation of nurses, characteristics of the care environment, and patient outcomes.  Evidence suggests that better patient outcomes result when a higher proportion of baccalaureate-prepared registered nurses provide care in hospitals (Aiken, Clarke, Cheung, Sloane and Silber, 2003; Estabrooks, Midodzi, Cumming, Ricker and Giovannetti, 2005).  Major changes in the future health care system will require philosophical modifications in how nurses are educated.  "Nursing education should serve as a platform for continued lifelong learning and include opportunities for seamless transition to higher degree programs" (Institute of Medicine Future of Nursing Report, 2011).  Increasingly complex patient care needs, clinical therapeutics, and teamwork require sophisticated nursing judgment.  Baccalaureate preparation in nursing, appropriate clinical expertise, and adequate staffing resources are all critical to support patient care.  For this reason, the Department of Nursing is implementing the expectation that all registered nurses hired after June 30, 2011 will obtain a baccalaureate in nursing within six years of their hire date.
The following Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) were developed to answer some common questions.  We encourage staff to talk to their Manager or Human Resources Liaison if there are specific or additional questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q:  How does this expectation impact registered nurses currently working at HMC?
A:  All registered staff nurses who provide direct patient care and were hired prior to June 30, 2011 will be grandfathered to their current nursing position with their current degree status; however, they will be encouraged to continue their nursing education.

Q:  Does this affect nurses in leadership positions at HMC?
A:  Nurses in identified leadership positions (ex: Clinical Head Nurses, Nurse Managers) have a BSN degree as a minimum qualification for this position; therefore, new hires to leadership positions will meet this prerequisite.  Nurses currently in leadership positions at HMC are aware of this requirement and are working with their Directors to meet this obligation.  According to the IOM Future of Nursing report, recommendation number seven states that nurses should take responsibility for their personal and professional growth by continuing their education and seeking opportunities to develop and exercise their leadership skills (Institute of Medicine Future of Nursing Report, 2011).

Q:  Is it true that only nurses with a BSN are being hired at HMC?
A:  No.  The Department of Nursing and Human Resources both value and actively recruit nurses with clinical experience.  Nursing research validated the importance of both formalized knowledge and experiential or skilled knowledge.  The expectation of obtaining a BSN within six years of hire will further enhance the knowledge and skill of our experience new hires.

Q:  What if the new hire has a bachelor's degree in another field and an associate's degree in nursing?
A:  The expectation of obtaining a BSN within six years will still be in effect.  The BSN is grounded in nursing knowledge and provides content in the areas of professionalism, leadership and management, human response to health/illness, critical thinking, and nursing practice across the lifespan.  This content provides the foundation for clinical leadership at the bedside.  The knowledge expectation is knowledge in the nursing discipline so we are requiring the bachelor's degree to be in nursing.

Q:  What is the plan for assisting new hires with the process?
A:  The nurse manager will review the progress toward obtaining a BSN every six months during the annual and mid-year PEP review process.  Staff will provide written documentation of class progression.  Program progression will be defined as measurable annual activity toward degree attainment (minimum of two courses per calendar year).  Lack of demonstration of progress toward degree attainment will result in progressive disciplinary action.  Extenuating circumstances will be addressed individually by Nurse Managers and Directors.

References
Aiken, L.H., Clarke, S., Cheung, R.B., Sloane, D.M., & Silber, J.H. (2003). Educational levels of hospital nurses and surgical patient mortality. Journal of the American Medical Association, 290, 1617-1623.
Estabrooks, C.A., Midodzi, W., Greta, G., Ricker, K., & Giovannetti, P. (2005). The impact of hospital nursing characteristics on 30 day mortality. Nursing Research, 54, 74-84.
IOM (Institute of Medicine). (2011). The future of nursing: Leading change, advancing health. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press, 163-177, 283.
 

Apply September 1 - November 1, 2014 for Summer 2015


Applications for May 2015 will be accepted beginning September 1 through November 1, 2014.

If interested in this exceptional opportunity to learn and grow, please complete an online Employment Application. You will find the Nurse Extern Position listed under "Nursing." After completing the online Employment Application, you will receive a Questionnaire to complete electronically.  Once your Questionnaire is submitted, you may submit your electronic Professional Portfolio (see FAQ tab).