Nursing students like Morgann thrive, learn with summer work
Morgann Graham began the Carle Student Nurse Internship Program last summer with little experience in healthcare.
Graham of St. Joseph had completed clinical rotations as part of her studies at the Urbana campus of the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Nursing. She also once served as a teen volunteer. Yet she knew she had a lot to learn.
“The Carle internship gave me the chance to have hands-on learning in a supportive environment,” Graham said. “I was nervous in the beginning. But I quickly learned that I was working in an encouraging environment that fosters learning and teamwork.”
The Carle Student Nurse Internship Program offers paid positions where nursing students work in an inpatient unit for eight weeks. Interns work three 12-hour shifts each week. They spend two shifts as a healthcare tech and one shadowing a unit nurse.
Juniors and seniors from four-year nursing programs are eligible to apply. Students from two-year nursing programs must have completed their first year of school. Apply after the first of the year.
“The leaders I worked under learned about my weaknesses,” Graham said. “Then they took my weaknesses and viewed them as an opportunity to help me grow.”
Graham, who was born at Carle, says working as a healthcare tech gave her an appreciation for teamwork. Her shadow days gave her insight into making the big transition from classroom to bedside.
“Shadow days gave me the ability to see what nurses do in an entire day without having all that responsibility in my hands,” Graham said. “It boosted my comfort level for when I begin orienting as a nurse.”
Carle recently re-launched the Student Nurse Internship Program to help recruit nurses during a national shortage.
“When Carle sees a need, what better than to grow your own,” Carle Nursing Talent Acquisition Partner Stephanie Stines said. “The internship is an additional way for candidates and future registered nurses to develop stronger connections with Carle.”
The program is doubling in 2019 with 20 interns.
The program is expanding from Medical/Surgical and Critical Care to include Pediatrics, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), Labor & Delivery, Post-Partum and Emergency departments. Interns also can request to shadow nurses on other units.
“This gives nursing students an opportunity to explore options,” Stines said. “It helps them feel more confident when making career choices.”
Interns can add extra weeks if time allows. More than half of the 2018 interns were offered positions to keep working at Carle. These interns work at least one paid shift a week as a healthcare tech while they finish school.
Graham graduates from nursing school in May. She was accepted into the Carle Nurse Residency Program. The nationally recognized program that is also among the few accredited by the American Nurses’ Credentialing Center (ANCC) help new nurses transition into the hospital setting.
Graham hopes to continue her career at Carle with a job that provides work-life balance. For Graham, that includes spending time with family and volunteering at the Champaign County Humane Society.
“The Carle team supports each other in balancing work and life commitments,” Graham said. “Transitioning into the work world isn’t so intimidating when it feels like you’re doing it with a family who’s looking out for you.”