Summer Nurse Extern at HUP

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the 2018 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Hue Minh Truong, NUR ’19

Over the course of eight weeks this summer, I had the honor and privilege to work with the wonderful nurses, patients, and staff at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania as a student nurse extern. In addition to developing professional connections and building rapport with other nurses, I established incredible friendships with the patients who had been on the unit for a long time. One moment that really stayed with me happened on my last day. It was my first time caring for this patient, but everyone on the unit raved about what a sweetheart he was. Nothing particularly interesting happened that day and I went about my daily tasks: taking vitals, observing medication administration, and answering call lights. However, whenever I was in his room I would be at his bedside to talk to him, pretty much about anything and everything. About halfway through my shift, it felt like we were lifelong friends.

When it was time for me to head off the floor, I made my rounds, saying goodbye to my patients and thanking them for allowing me to care for them. When I got to him, we were both pretty emotional. He said something that made all the emotional exhaustion and frustration worth it: “I couldn’t have asked for a better nurse, and I wouldn’t have wanted any other nurse”. Reflecting back on that instant now, I’m tearing up a bit! I know that nursing isn’t about receiving praise, but this externship helped me understand just how difficult and taxing being a nurse actually is. I would come home after 12-hour shifts with aching feet and a heavy heart but seeing the difference a couple of jokes and heartfelt conversations made, forever changed the way I approach nursing. The examples my nurse preceptors set allowed me to experience the compassion, heart and love nurses put in the care they provide.

The VPUL Career Services Summer Funding gave me those friendships, connections and life-changing experiences. Without the generosity of the donors, my time in Philadelphia would have been marred with fears of financial constraints. More importantly, I wouldn’t have been able to allocate all of my focus on my time at HUP and to my patients. To the donors: thank you for the role that you played in helping me establish my identity as a future nurse. Words can’t properly describe how grateful I am for the opportunity and for the aid. This externship has been one of the most rewarding yet humbling experiences of my nursing career, and it wouldn’t have been possible with VPUL!

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