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In the media: Externship program offers nursing students on-the-job training

June 1, 2021


Nursing students are gaining on-the-job training through an externship program that invites students to become part-time members of a health-care team while also supporting interprofessional teams that could benefit from additional support.

The program has been in place at Sunnybrook for a number of years, but was recently expanded when the COVID-19 pandemic was declared to help ease staffing pressures.

Ru Taggar, executive vice-president and chief of nursing at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, highlighted the importance of the program in a recent interview with the Globe and Mail. She says it has become an excellent recruitment tool: All 20 of the nursing students who completed the externship program at Sunnybrook this year have been hired. She adds that the hospital is aiming to direct all hired externs to train in areas experiencing a staffing shortage, such as critical care and the operating room.

Laura Slipp, a recent nursing graduate, was hired to join the hospital’s resource team after completing an externship at Sunnybrook.

“You learn so much just from being immersed in the hospital setting,” Laura said in the interview with the Globe and Mail. “During our clinical placements, we might go into the hospital one day a week, whereas during my externship I was going in as a full-time employee, so I was really integrated in a team and getting to know everyone and seeing the dynamics of how everyone works together.”

Externs play a key role in supporting hospital teams by providing direct patient care and clinical unit support. Their responsibilities and care tasks may include participating in patient assessments, taking vital signs, assisting with comfort measures and patient safety, supporting safe feeding, and more.

While externships are not integrated into a nursing student’s learning curriculum, the program functions as a compliment to the education students receive through school.

Read the full Globe and Mail article

Read Laura’s full story, and learn more about Sunnybrook’s clinical externship program

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