Many hospitals offer unique opportunities for junior and senior level nursing students through structured, short term programs. The first thing to know about these opportunities is that every hospital may call them something different. The Ohio State University Medical Center calls its program for the summer between the junior and senior year an "externship." They use the term "internship" to refer to its program after graduation. These terms may be reversed for other institutions; the words "residency" or "fellowship" can be used to describe the opportunity as well. We will use the term "internship" here to collectively represent all the above programs.
New nurse programs (post-graduation)
New nurse experiences are structured programs for BSN graduates that can last several months to a year. The length depends on that individual hospital's program. In most cases, the internship has a theme—pediatrics, for example—or is on a particular floor or unit, such as a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Other times it is a general program, meant to give you a long orientation to that entire hospital. Your goals for your first post-BSN work experience may help you decide on what internship is a good fit.
Securing an internship can be difficult – they are competitive. It is recommended that you do a job search along with your internship search. The majority of hospitals in the country do not offer internships—they hire new BSNs directly into full time RN positions, with a short orientation. There may not always be a structured new nurse program.
For many hospitals with internship programs, starting in the internship is the only way to gain an entry level RN position. Again, it depends on each hospital's policies. Make sure to ask the nurse recruiter the specifics about the program.
Deadlines are also specific to each hospital, with most applications due in early spring semester for a summer start.
Summer student nurse programs (after the junior year)
Summer student nurse programs are structured programs for BSN students in between the junior and senior year that will typically last 6-8 weeks. Academic credit may be offered for the experience. Some summer programs may have a theme (e.g. critical care), while most are more general, allowing you to get experience in multiple types of nursing settings. Many students like summer programs because they help clarify future nursing career goals.
Summer student nurse programs are usually competitive. It is recommended that you do a summer job search or plan to continue any student nurse positions you already have in addition to applying to summer programs. The majority of hospitals in the country do not offer externships; they hire nursing students into regular student nurse jobs. For many hospitals with externship programs, starting in the externship is a way to make connections that may lead to a full time position after graduation. Deadlines are also specific to each hospital, with most applications due in mid winter quarter for a summer program.
The following lists of new nurse programs and summer student nurse programs are meant to be a resource to you, as you plan for your future experiences. These lists are not all inclusive. There may be more opportunities available than these documents represent, so please investigate on your own as well.
If you want to be placed at a hospital that is not represented on the list, you can start by looking for a "Nursing Professionals" or similar section of its website or search the site using keywords like "internship" or "externship." If you are still unable to find an opportunity, you can call that institution's human resources office and ask to speak to a nurse recruiter.
Most applications for these opportunities will require a rèsumè and reference letters. Some also may ask for a personal statement or cover letter. All will have an interview process – how formal it is will depend on that hospital. Keep track of all the different requirements for each program, since they may have different application requirements.
New nurse programs (for seniors).
New nurse programs (for juniors).
Career services resources