Date Published: March 28, 2018
Life as a nursing student can be a wonderful, yet sometimes confusing experience. From diving into medical terminology, dosage calculations, and nursing school lingo to learning how to walk the walk, there’s a lot to learn about this new profession you’re joining. One question that we often hear from students is, “What is the difference between clinicals, internships and residencies?”
And, well, that’s a good question. We’re breaking down the answer for you, here.
Unlike a simulation or time in the skills lab, clinicals are the real deal. It is not a lecture or a simulation, but an experience where you are taking care of real patients. To give you some peace of mind, it’s important to remember that clinicals take place in an environment where you will be under the guidance of an experienced nurse.
Use your clinical experiences as an opportunity to learn! This is an opportunity for you to also gain experience that you can reference during job interviews. Curious to know what it’s like? We interviewed one nursing student about their clinical experience – check it out here.
Internships for Student Nurses
An internship, while it may vary at different hospitals or other medical offices, is the perfect opportunity to continue to gain experience while you are still in nursing school – typically during the summer or months while you are on break. Most internship opportunities for nursing students will list requirements that applicants need to meet. For example, you may need to have taken a specific set of classes or be enrolled full-time in a specific type of program. Below is an excerpt from an internship posting online.
“The Nursing Intern is a PRN position for students currently enrolled in an accredited RN program who have completed a Fundamentals of Nursing or Medical Surgical course. The Nursing Intern performs clinical procedures and provides patient care for assigned patients under the direction and supervision of the Registered Nurse. Performs direct and indirect patient care activities. Provides support to other health care team members. The Nursing Intern may perform technical tasks per unit competency validation; however Nursing Interns are restricted from performing any licensed tasks.”
This experience is typically under the direction and supervision of a registered nurse in that hospital or medical office. Tasks can vary from technical to direct patient care. If you are interested in a nursing internship, consider starting the application process at least 18 months before your graduation date.
Nurse Residency Programs
A nurse residency program is a structured program designed to support a newly licensed nurse during his or her initial months on the job. The program is often led by a preceptor who mentors the new nurse and provides specific training on that hospital’s approach to quality improvement, care coordination, and other concepts a nurse learns during school but have specific applications in that provider environment. It’s all about introducing the nurse to the culture of that hospital, and so residency programs can vary from hospital to hospital. In fact, not all hospitals even have a nurse residency program, some hospitals require their new nurses to go through the program and others leave it as optional.
Because these programs can be so unique, we recommend that you do your research before applying for jobs. As you are narrowing down which hospitals you want to work at, see if they have a nurse residency program. If you have questions about it, reach out to the nurse recruiter for that hospital and they would be happy to answer your questions! We recently interviewed a panel of recruiters and they hit on the subject of nurse residency programs – see it on Facebook Live, here.