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September 23, 2017

MY EXTERNSHIP EXPERIENCE: THE ER!

Oh my gosh, it has been 5 months since my last blog post! Long time, no talk right? I have been so extremely busy these past couple months between an accelerated 6 week Pharmacology/Pathophysiology course and working in the Emergency Department as a Nurse Extern! I have gotten a lot of questions asking about my externship experience, so that's what I am here to talk about today!



1. The Application Process

The application process itself was very competitive. I did my externship through a very well-hospital system around where I go to school. Due to this, they had a large number of applicants (500!) and they only took around 100 students. I didn't start my externship until May, but my application was due by January. Side note: If you are looking to do an externship before your senior year, make sure you keep your eyes peeled for applications! They do start early!

The first step of the application was to submit your typical resume, cover letter, CPR cards, and 4 recommendations from professors/managers, and a letter stating your top three hospitals and floors where you would like to work. Then once they saw whether or not I met the requirements, I received an invitation for a video interview. This was the most nerve wracking part of the whole application process. I had to film myself answering questions and I could not re-record anything! I also only had 2 minutes to read each question before it started recording me. After that was submitted, I was later invited to an in-person interview where I interviewed with the manager and nurse educator of the Emergency Department. 

About one month after my in-person interview, I received an email stating I had been accepted! Overall, the whole application process took around 4 months.

2. Orientation 
Before I started in the Emergency Department, I had to go through a lot of training. This included phlebotomy training, ED safe classes, and general classes that all Nurse Externs were required to attend to learn about patient care (vital signs, restraints, taking urine samples, checking blood sugars, and more). Once I was finished with the classroom training, I then started on the floor! I then had to complete 80 hours of orientation with a preceptor before I could work on my own. 

I had worked prior to this on a Medical/Surgical floor as a Nursing Assistant, so I thought I would be somewhat prepared when I started. Boy, was I wrong.  The ER and the floors are like night and day. I was used to having a structure to my day and having a routine. I would do vital signs at this time, change patients at this time, etc. In the ER, there is no routine. Every shift is different and you never know what time something will get done. During orientation, I did countless EKGs, straight sticks, started IVs, and got to participate in so many critical events like cardiac arrests. 

3. Why did I pick the ER? 
I chose to put the ER at the top of my list for preferences because I knew that I would learn so much there. The ER sees so many different patients and I wanted to expose myself to as much as I could before my senior year. Being a Nurse Extern allows the nurses I work with to know that I am a student. Due to this, they are always pulling me into rooms to teach me different things! I feel like every shift I work, I leave learning something new and that is something so valuable and worthwhile to me. I am constantly advancing my skill set and that is why I love the ER. 

I hope this answered some of your questions and gives you a little insight to my experience so far in the ER! If any of you are applying for externships this summer, I highly recommend trying to get into the Emergency Department. Thank you all for being so patient and understanding with my lack of blogging! If you guys have any other questions, please feel free to comment or email me!