Clarissa Yee, NUR ’23, Staten Island, NY
A piece of advice I always hear since the start of my nursing education from my instructors to other fellow nurses is that to be a “good” nurse comes a lot from experience. By the end of my summer, these words have never felt truer. From June to August, I worked as a summer nurse extern for NYU Langone Health in a post-procedural care unit practicing my technical nursing skills and gaining more experience with patient interactions. At the end of every shift, I felt my confidence growing and appreciated this opportunity to learn beyond the simulation labs and traditional classroom lectures.
During the externship, my schedule mirrored a full-time nurses’ 12-hour shift schedule, and I was able to work both day and night shifts to better understand the workflow of a hospital unit. Every shift I learned from different nurses on the unit, picking up along the way their skills such as back-priming IV tubing, selecting intramuscular sites for medications, and communicating therapeutically with anxious patients. I was also able to practice my technical skills such as recording vital signs, performing 12-lead EKGs, practicing head-to-toe assessments, reading electronic health records, conducting medication education, and more.
This opportunity was particularly valuable because I was able to see the contrast between simulation and real-life practice and enhance my critical thinking in acute settings. From doing blood sugar readings on a purple glove during a remote simulation session to practicing on a patient, I realized the textbooks never noted the amount of pressure I need to apply or prior stimulation technique to draw enough blood to the surface. It was only through consistent practice that I was able to perfect this skill. Nothing can also replace the experience of my own hands applying pressure on my patient’s catheterization site when it starts bleeding or being instructed by the nurses what to do when my patient starts desaturating in front of me with the alarms in the room ringing. Through this externship, I was given the space to learn and develop my competence.
Beyond technical skills, I was able to also develop my therapeutic communication. In my care, I interacted with different patients hearing their stories before entering the four walls of the hospital, and most importantly made them feel heard. When faced with an agitated or anxious patient, I learned how to deescalate the situation from nurses. It was amazing to also see the support system that exists within the acute setting to provide quality care to our patients. From the nurses to the patient care technicians to the team of physicians, patient care is a collaborative effort that requires constant communication between all healthcare providers to ensure the patient’s safety.
This summer externship at NYU was memorable, and I am grateful to Penn Career Services for allowing me to foster my professional development and explore my interests in nursing.
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.