Make the Most of Your Nursing Internship

A nursing internship is a valuable part of your nursing education. Here's how to find your own internship, prepare for an interview and make the most of the work experience.

Finding a Nursing Internship

Your school should have a list of recognized local institutions that accept nurses for internships. The advantage to applying to intern with these organizations is that they usually have a relationship with your school, and they may be knowledgeable about curriculum and the strengths and weaknesses of your program. Your nursing school can probably give you the same information about your placement.

If your school does not do matching or no matching assignments are available in your specialty, you can speak with your career services office. They may be running a nursing or health science career fair, so if you can attend the event, you can speak with recruiters directly about the practicum programs at their hospital.

Finally, contact the hospital or institutions you wish to intern at directly and find out if they have an internship program. It is best that you go with a facility that has a program in place since they will have schedules, prepared information that is relevant to interns and are able to guide you as a new professional in their facility. You can still go with a facility that has no planned internship, but they will be learning as much about dealing with nursing interns as you will about professional nursing, which can cause unnecessary stress.

Practice Questions

If you have a formal interview, you can expect some behavior descriptive questions about conflict in the workplace and dealing with stress and unhappy people.

You may also be asked questions about workplace behavior, such as questions about punctuality and attention to detail on forms and paperwork, since these are also major parts of nursing practice.

You can also expect some situational questions, since much of your knowledge about nursing is still hypothetical. Do your best to answer these questions, referring to what you have learned in class and plain common sense. You may have already had practical experience that you can use to answer these questions, though maintain confidentiality about the patient and additional persons involved.

You may also be asked some mathematical questions about dosages and conversion between measuring systems, so a quick review of some basic, simple questions before your interview will help you answer these questions with confidence.

Work Experience

The internship is a time for you to decide if you are really cut out to be a nurse. Dealing with patients, fluids, liquids, pain and other staff members will all be tested during this period. You will also learn about the work environment and office politics, so pay attention, but remain a bystander.

It is also possible that you may receive a job offer based on your behavior during the internship so follow hospital policies, dress appropriately, be punctual and complete any assignments or additional work that your supervisor directs you to do. Even if no job offer is forthcoming, you can use the supervisor as a reference for other job interviews when you are ready to begin your career.