Most people know that becoming a nurse requires completing nursing courses, but many wonder if nursing degrees also require an internship. The answer to that question varies by the school or program. Internships are a great way for students to obtain hands-on training in a supervised environment. It also allows them to gain experience working in various areas of healthcare. However, many aspiring nurses have a misconception about internships, practicum, and clinicals. Here is an overview of nursing internships.
Related resource: 15 Most Affordable Best Online RN to BSN Nursing Degree Programs
What Are Nursing Internships?
Internships are a special type of training. They’re a combination of work and learning because the individual (intern) is working and learning, but they’re working under the supervision of another individual, usually a licensed nurse or doctor. Internships may be paid or unpaid depending on the employer. Internships generally take place in the summer between the student’s first and second year of nursing school.
Sometimes they’re completed during the final semester as well. Nursing internships can be a valuable learning experience where the nursing students learn about actually working as a nurse. They’re also a great way for an aspiring nurse to showcase his or her skills to potential employers. Internships are often called externships.
Clinicals vs Internship vs Practicum
Nursing students often see requirements for clinicals, internships, and practicums and think they’re all the same thing. While they’re similar in that they provide the student with practical experience, Nurse Journal indicates that they’re actually three different things. Clinicals often come in the form of clinical rotations, which has the student working in different areas of a hospital; they rotate from one department to another. They do perform some nursing duties but spend a lot of time observing.
A practicum is based more on academics than on actual on-the-job training. Students work alongside registered nurses and may do simple tasks like recording medical information. Internships provide actual hands-on, clinical training where the student gets real experience performing nursing duties. Although their work is monitored, the intern gets to actually do the tasks. Both practicums and clinicals require a lot fewer hours than an internship.
Why Are Internships Important?
Internships are important for several reasons. Here are some benefits of internships.
• Great for specialties – Students who wish to study a specific nursing specialization can get real training in the area.
• Show talents to potential employers – Future employers get to see what the nursing student has to offer.
• Experience – The more a person does something, they better they get. Internships provide additional experience.
• Enhance resume – A completed internship looks great on a resume.
• Gives advantage – Students who’ve completed an internship typically have an advantage over those who have not.
Do Nursing Degrees Require an Internship?
Despite hearing how valuable internships can be for nursing students, they are not actually required as part of the nursing degree. Most nursing programs have both a classroom and a clinical component, but the clinic component is not necessarily an internship. For instance, a candidate pursuing an LPN program will complete general education courses, health courses and a clinical component where he or she performs some hands-on training, but no internship is required.
Completing an internship may seem like a bonus to one student and an inconvenience to another student, despite how helpful they can be. Online students, in particular, may find it difficult to complete an internship. Since not all nursing degrees require an internship, students have the option to choose a program that has the internship requirements that best fit their goals.