Graduate Nurse Internship

Most hospitals have extended orientation programs for newly licensed graduate nurses to help them transition into a professional nursing career. Some hospitals call this program an internship, some call it a residency, and some call it a residency/internship.

Some hospitals offer both internship and residency programs. At hospitals that offer both, internships tend to be in a specialty. However, there are no national standards for internships or residencies, and hospitals can structure the programs in any way they desire.

Specialty areas in which a nurse might intern include:

  • Critical Care
  • Emergency Department
  • Medical Surgical
  • Medical Telemetry
  • Neonatal
  • Oncology
  • Pediatrics
  • Perioperative
  • Post Anesthesia Care Unit
  • Transplants
  • Women’s Health

Choosing a Graduate Nurse Internship

New nurses need to take in a number of considerations in choosing a graduate nurse internship, including location, pay, program length, and individual career goals.

Questions that a nurse might ask about an internship include:

  • What is the content and structure of the internship? Does it provide specialty content? Does it include formal classroom training?
  • Who provides training to a nurse intern and what is their training?
  • How does the internship impart new skills and is additional support available for nurses having difficulty acquiring a new skill?
  • Does the program include mentoring and how does it work?
  • How do interns receive feedback?
  • Is added support available to help nurse interns deal with stressful experiences (such as their first patient death or an ethical dilemma)?
  • Does the internship have documented outcomes and what are they?

New nurses will probably have to apply to several residency or internship programs, as some programs are very competitive.

A Note About Residencies

Although there are no standard internship programs, some hospitals do use a standard residency program. One program is the one-year UHC/AACN Nurse Residency Program developed by the University HealthSystem Consortium (UHC) and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) and used in 81 locations in 29 states, as of December 2012. Another program is the 18- to 22-week Versant® RN Residency.

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