Internships Give Future Nurses Hands-on Training (VIDEO)

Feb 02, 2018


nursing internsInternships offer students a unique glimpse into future careers. Just ask Randolph-Macon College students Maddie Holcomb '18, Tory Stribling '18, Haley Vass '18, and Angela Richards '19, who did nursing internships at Bon Secours Memorial Regional Medical Center (MRMC) in Richmond, Virginia during January Term (J-term). Holcomb, Stribling, Vass, and Richards, who are enrolled in R-MC's pre-nursing program, gained valuable work experience as they learned from experts.

Getting The Edge on Internships
Josh Quinn, associate director of professional development and medical careers for The Edge, and Biology Professor Nicholas Ruppel, helped arrange the internships. The Edge, R-MC's four-year career program, focuses on personal and academic development and offers students a wealth of tailor-made internships.

"For the past several years, Sarah Gardner (BSN, RN-BC), Memorial Regional Medical Center's clinical educator and residency coordinator, has placed R-MC students in many different departments of the hospital, such as the OR, ER, interventional radiology, endoscopy, the mother-baby unit, and the cardiac catheterization lab," explains Quinn. "It's exciting that Maddie, Tory, Haley and Angela reaped the benefits of a month-long internship that exposed them to so many aspects of nursing. Nothing takes the place of hands-on training. This experience helped to solidify their decision to become nurses and gave them the motivation to work hard throughout nursing school. It also taught them to practice healthcare in the exceptional model of Bon Secours by working to bring compassion to health care."

During their fast-paced days as interns, Holcomb, Stribling, Vass and Richards shadowed healthcare professionals, sharpened their networking skills, and observed medical procedures—all with an eye toward a future career in nursing.

Maddie Holcomb '18
Under the guidance of Emily Mapes, the administrative director of nursing, Holcomb, a biology major, shadowed professionals throughout the hospital. She also worked with hospital employees to help ensure that medical supplies are distributed to nurses in an efficient way.

"I learned so much about the hospital—not just about the separate units and where I potentially want to work, but all about the behind-the-scenes aspects of a busy hospital," she says. "It was great to see how all the units work together to run the hospital efficiently."

Holcomb's post-R-MC plans include attending The Bon Secours School of Nursing.

"I want to become a registered nurse and work in the pediatric unit or Labor and Delivery," she says.  "I'm grateful to R-MC for all of the amazing opportunities that help me better prepare for my future!"

"Maddie has sought out opportunities to learn more about healthcare and to be engaged with healthcare providers throughout her time at R-MC," says Quinn. "Her determination and drive will ensure that she will become a great nurse."

Tory Stribling '18
Stribling, a biology major, was assigned to clinical observation days in which she shadowed registered nurses, nurse practitioners, and nurse technicians.

"One of my most important tasks was to ask questions as I explored the different departments within the hospital," she says. "This internship was an opportunity to expand my knowledge about the nursing field and narrow the direction I want to take as I prepare for a career."

As she sat in on meetings and talked to staff, Stribling improved her communication skills—all the while observing a side of nursing that is just as important as direct patient care.

"I delved deeper into the field of nursing and saw firsthand its different facets," says Stribling, who, thanks to a lot of hard work, will graduate a year early. "Interning at Memorial Regional helped me gain knowledge that I can use in nursing school. Because I experienced a hospital setting on a day-to-day basis, I won't be overwhelmed when I begin my clinicals." This fall, Stribling will begin the University of Virginia's Direct Entry Master's CNL (Clinical Nurse Leader) program. "I want to help make positive changes within the healthcare field," says Stribling, a member of the Yellow Jacket tennis team and a student ambassador. "I am so grateful to R-MC for giving me tons of opportunities, including this internship, over the years."

"Tory worked hard to clearly outline her skills and succinctly convey her story as she prepared to successfully interview for the CNL program," says Quinn.

Haley Vass '18
Hass, a biology major and psychology minor, enjoyed shadowing nurses from a variety of units throughout the hospital. She also worked alongside Jake Herndon, director of Service Excellence and Patient Advocacy for MRMC; went on rounds; and attended meetings.

"I learned the ins and outs of healthcare," says Vass. "Because of this, I had the opportunity to see what type of nursing I am most interested in. I also experienced the administrative side of the healthcare world, and I now see that it is not always black and white. Most importantly, this internship strengthened my desire to become a nurse."

This spring, Vass will apply to Bon Secours Nursing School. "I may want to be a labor and delivery nurse," she says. "Then again, during my internship one of my clinical observation days was spent shadowing an ER nurse. I didn't think I was going to like the ER, but I loved it because of its fast pace. I was able to see the various tasks that an ER nurse performs, and I can see myself becoming an ER nurse, too."

"Haley has consistently worked on improving her skills and laying out how those skills—and her experience—will make her a great nurse," says Quinn.

Angela Richards '19
"Throughout my internship, I researched the onboarding (orientation) programs of other hospitals, and helped create a new program for MRMC," says Richards, a biology major and psychology minor. "An onboarding program is important for retention rates and for acclimating new graduates."

Each day, Richards met with nurse managers and nurse educators—key people in the onboarding process—to discuss how to improve the onboarding of new nurses. She also shadowed in different areas of the hospital to "get a taste of what it is like to be a nurse, and to get a sense of what unit I would like to work in," she says. "My internship showed me the full extent of the impact that healthcare can have on a person's life. The people I worked with showed me what it takes to be a good nurse—and an effective leader—and how to positively affect the lives of others. I learned how to gracefully handle myself in stressful situations, and I now have a high standard to hold myself to on my journey to becoming a nurse." After nursing school, Richards plans to pursue a master's degree to become a nurse practitioner. Her goal is to work in a cardiology unit or in the ER.

"Angela is actively involved in some of the many clubs and activities that Randolph-Macon College offers," says Quinn, "and she has learned to manage and prioritize her responsibilities. Those skills will serve her well in nursing school and in her future career."

R-MC's Pre-nursing Program and Partnerships
With an emphasis on critical thinking and effective communication, a liberal arts education provides a strong foundation for any career. R-MC supports students interested in careers in healthcare—including nursing—with a rigorous academic program, through a Pre-Health Society, a dedicated Medical Careers Coordinator in The Edge Career Center, and guaranteed admission agreements with the Virginia Commonwealth University Nursing Program and the George Washington University (GWU) School of Nursing.