My Summer Experience at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania

Annie Yang, NUR ’23, Philadelphia, PA

This summer I worked as a nurse extern at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP). Every year, HUP hired nursing students, or externs, to work on various specialty floors. I worked on the Cardiac Surgery Step Down Unit, and occasionally, we would get patients with heart and lung transplants. During the eight-week externship, I attended mandatory weekly didactic sessions with information and topics that externs may encounter on their floor, such as diabetes, opioid use disorder, effective communication, end of life care, etc. We were also able to learn and practice technical skills like inserting an IV, foley, and performing tracheostomy care in the simulation lab. As a nurse extern, I was paired up with a nurse on the unit, and the goal was for me to learn the responsibilities and technical skills of nurses to jump start my nursing career. The nurses on the floor were very helpful and eager to teach. The certified nursing assistants (CNA) on the floor were sweet; they taught me how to move patients and how to help patients with chest tubes walk. I became familiar with HUP’s computer charting system. Overall, this externship was a great experience, and I was able to network and meet other nursing students in my extern cohort.

One experience I will forever remember from this summer was my interaction with a lovely patient. While I was answering the call bell, I walked into the room, and saw that the patient was having difficulty feeding himself as his hands and fingers were shaking from the side effect of the anti-rejection medication for his lungs transplant. I offered to feed the patient because I saw how much he was struggling, and I knew that he would never finish the meal on his own. He was very thoughtful and told me that I didn’t need to feed him if I didn’t have time. Fortunately, I wasn’t busy, and I was able to feed him. After the meal, he was very thankful to me. He proceeded to ring the call bell and call his nurse into the room so I could get “credit,” which was what happened. I was surprised to learn that a small kind gesture could make a patient’s day. I did not particularly go out of my way to help him, yet he reciprocated my efforts in a grander scale. I never thought about getting “credit,” because I only did what anyone would have done. I learned that patients in the hospital are lonely, and a small gesture could go a long way.

This summer job opportunity was a one-of-a-kind experience. I learned so many nursing skills and met new people. I have a better understanding of nurses and CNAs’ roles in patients stay in the hospital, and I feel more prepared going into my last year of nursing school. I have received so many thankful comments from patients, and I realized that even nursing students like myself brings valuable assets to the team. I am appreciative that I was able to work at HUP this summer because I would not be able to get this kind of experience anywhere else.

This is part of a series of posts by recipients of the 2022 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they spent their summer. You can read the entire series here.

By Career Services
Career Services