PORTSMOUTH — As a nursing student, Taylor McQuay was learning how to be a nurse – but it wasn’t until she joined SOMC’s Nursing Intern Program that she felt like she really became one.
“I had a semester under my belt before I started the intern program,” she said. “I felt like it really enhanced my education. It also showed me what direction I wanted to take my nursing career.”
SOMC’s Nursing Intern Program helps nursing students gain that advantage by rotating them through various departments where they receive real-world, hands-on experience. It is designed to give them a better feel for the profession, enhancing what they’d received from the classroom and helping them find the right fit of where they’d like to work after graduation.
“The program really helps them gain confidence,” SOMC Director of Critical Care and Heart & Vascular Services Amy Fraulini said.
Fraulini, who oversees the Nursing Intern Program, added that “it enhances their critical thinking abilities, helps them learn to prioritize their work and strengthens their communication skills. It also allows them to see how different departments within the hospital work. They get a better understanding for the care those areas provide and see the patient populations they serve.”
Nursing interns are assigned “hip-to-hip” with a nurse, giving them a clear idea of what it’s really like to work in that area.
For McQuay, one of the greatest benefits of the program was the opportunities it gave her to become familiar with the equipment nurses use. Additionally, she felt like she was more comfortable interacting with patients than students who did not participate in the program. It also made it easier for her to decide where she wanted to work once she was finished in school.
“I definitely think going through each department gave me a more complete view of each area,” McQuay said. “It gave me appreciation for healthcare as a whole, and helped me understand the unique challenges faced by different units. I was also able to form relationships on each unit before deciding where I wanted to start my career.”
McQuay ultimately accepted a full-time position in SOMC’s Intensive Care Unit even before she graduated. She credits the internship program with making that possible. Stories like McQuay’s have helped the Nursing Intern Program grow significantly since it began approximately five years ago.
“When we started our first year, we had fewer than 20 interns,” Fraulini said. “Now, at any given time we have around 80 students in the program.”
To be eligible, the nursing student must have completed the first basic care course of nursing school. SOMC’s program rotates students through medical-surgical and specialty units. Interns can work as few as four – or as many as 40 – hours per week and flex their hours to their school schedules. Interns are also eligible for SOMC’s tuition assistance program to help cover the cost of their education. Visit somc.org to apply.