Scholastic Spotlight: The Clinical Externship Defined

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So, what exactly is an externship? Well, a clinical externship is an unpaid learning opportunity for students in schools of nursing, nurse aide (CNA) training programs, medical assisting training programs and other types of allied healthcare courses to facilitate full immersion in acquisition of hands-on practical skills in a particular sphere of interest.

Essentially, the clinical externship is the educational phase of most health science training programs that enables pupils to shadow more experienced allied healthcare workers in the specific career pathway that is being pursued. For instance, a nurse aide training program clinical externship would entail students shadowing more experienced nursing assistants as they provide basic patient care duties at a healthcare center.

During the clinical externship, the allied healthcare student works alongside more experienced healthcare workers in a workplace setting in the field or discipline of study. The student provides hands-on care to real clients under the supervision of a clinical instructor and is being evaluated for their performance the entire time. The student jumps in and assists clients with their patient care needs in a hands-on manner.

What can allied healthcare students look forward to during the clinical externship phase of their training? It can really differ depending on the specific type of training program. Each externship has its similarities and differences; however, a few commonalities do exist. The following list contains some potentially useful pearls of wisdom regarding clinical externships to assist in easing the student’s fears of the unknown.

  • The student’s clinical externship site or setting will depend on the training program he or she is enrolled in. For example, a medical assisting trainee might be assigned to a clinic or doctors office, whereas a nurse aide student will most likely be sent to a skilled nursing facility.
  • To make the most of the externship phase and maximize the learning experience, students should ask questions, be as helpful as humanly possible, and offer to provide assistance to the allied healthcare professionals at the clinical site. This is the student’s chance to shine and build a solid reputation in his or her future profession.
  • Students should always be ready to adhere to the predetermined rules of the clinical site. These rules might include standard workplace fare such as dress codes, hours of operation, social media usage policies, meal breaks, standards for professional conduct, proper chains of command, and so forth.
  • The clinical externship provides an amazing chance to learn new skills, as well as the opportunity to blossom both professionally and personally. It would be wise if the student adopts the stance that constructive criticism can pave the way for streamlined opportunities for improvement.
  • Keep in mind that the clinical instructor who supervises students at the clinical externship most likely has a vast amount of enriching experiences from school and work as a foundation to teach. Do not forget to utilize the clinical instructor as an educational resource. After all, they are there to help students acquire practical skills under supervision.
  • Clinical externships usually last anywhere from few days to several weeks depending on the requirements of the training program. In addition, the school’s administrative staff selects the clinical site location due to pre-existing contracts with healthcare facilities in the community where the school is located.
  • Students are usually graded and/or evaluated on their overall performance during their time at the clinical externship. In essence, the clinical externship is the student’s opportunity to thrive, bring positive attention toward oneself, and absorb mountains of new information in a practical manner. In other words, the clinical externship is full of awesome opportunities that should not go to waste.
  • As a general rule of thumb, allied healthcare students who are attending a clinical externship will not be paid for their time because it is a requirement for completion of the school’s training program. Time spent at the clinical externship site should be seen as schooling, not employment.

A clinical externship is a very important aspect of healthcare occupational training programs that students undergo in order to graduate and move on to thriving careers in the medical field. A clinical externship permits students to put multiple skills to use that are absolutely imperative for securing gainful employment in the healthcare field.

Call Legacy Healthcare Careers CNA School at (682)626-5266 to obtain a rewarding career in the healthcare industry as a nursing assistant. The training programs offered by Legacy Healthcare Careers all involve clinical externships at local healthcare centers in the Dallas/Fort Worth area of Texas.

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