Unique Nurse Extern Experience at Bethany Children’s

Nurse extern program

Bethany Children’s Health Center offers a unique opportunity for nursing students going into their senior year of nursing school, along with Nurse Techs and LPNs who are in RN programs. The Nurse Extern Program is a nine-week, paid program that provides training and shadowing of positions throughout the Hospital. This year’s externs include 12 external students, four internal nurse techs, and four LPNs. Almost half of this year’s externs are University of Oklahoma (OU) students., Participating in the Nurse Extern program exposes them to the unique experience of rehabilitation and the perspective of an organization outside of the OU umbrella. It’s a change for them, since they are required to do their clinicals at OU clinical sites only.

Program Director, Leah Burns, explains that the Bethany Children’s program offers a wider variety of experiences for externs than many other programs.

“A lot of other programs are mostly externs shadowing nurses on the floor. We do a lot more off the floor shadowing like nurse managers, case managers, practitioners, and the pediatric clinic. We can offer a wider variety of experiences beyond just patient care,” she says. “The big goal is to see the inner workings of the hospital and how nursing can be integrated into all areas of the hospital and not just patient care.”

Extern Riyanna Williams has enjoyed the variety, saying, “Being able to shadow different positions has shown me how critical each role is to the well-being of the patients here at Bethany Children’s. For example, when shadowing a case manager, I learned that they work with the families to conduct discharge planning and help the parents navigate their child’s care. All of these professions work together throughout the Hospital, and I enjoy diving into the different roles.”

For Robby Keeton, an LPN at Bethany Children’s who is currently in the LPN-RN bridge program at OSU-OKC, the program has given him a better understanding of the “big picture” of the Hospital’s operations, as well as creating relationships with people throughout the Hospital.

Riyanna is excited that she has learned technical skills like replacing a G-tube, along with understanding the importance of collaboration to provide excellent patient care. “The nurses at Bethany Children’s are in constant contact with therapists and other professionals. The externship has shown me the importance of interdisciplinary work,” she says.

While Robby is familiar with the environment and culture at Bethany Children’s, Riyanna has been pleasantly surprised with her experience. “I am absolutely impressed with the Hospital and staff. Everyone here is friendly and willing to help,” she says. “They are super-passionate about their work and the care for patients here.”
Leah reports that this year’s group of externs has jumped into their training with great attitudes. “When you apply to an extern program, you have to be a go-getter. You can’t just sit in the back and be quiet, because you’re already stepping out of your comfort zone,” she says.

“It takes a special person to want to work with children, and the types of patients that we have – some with pretty profound needs. Just being able to see past the differences and appreciating everyone for who they are and what they bring to the table can bring out a softer side in people.”

In terms of goals for the program, Robby hopes to gain a better understanding of the inner workings of the Hospital, how the organization interacts with the community and how teams function. Riyanna says, “I hope to be able to practice as many skills as possible during the externship. My goal is to become comfortable and build confidence in providing patient centered care.”

Seven of last year’s externs stayed on at Bethany Children’s. Leah notes that participating in the program allows staff throughout the hospital to really get to know externs, providing a great launchpad for continuing their nursing careers. “We’re happy to have them all back as nurse techs who are working towards taking their boards,” Leah notes.

Riyanna hopes to become a Pediatric Registered Nurse and says, “I am so grateful to have been chosen to participate in this externship. So far, this summer has been a great learning opportunity for me, and I can truly say that I have grown much more in my capacity as a student.”

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