nursing student, preceptor, professional socialization, recruitment, retention



  1. Kilpatrick, Kelley MSc(A), RN
  2. Frunchak, Valerie MSc(A), RN


WITHIN THE PRESENT context of a shortage of nursing personnel, it seems crucial for organizations to find strategies that facilitate the transition from the student to the nurse role in order to recruit and retain caring and competent professionals. Early exposure to clinical nursing practice can (1) promote an appreciation of the organization and functioning of the clinical unit, (2) facilitate the application of knowledge and acquisition of nursing interventions, and (3) engage motivated nursing students in the learning process. L'Ordre des Infirmieres et Infirmiers du Quebec initiated the Nursing Extern Program (the Program) to ease the severe nursing shortage, which was expected to worsen over the summer. The Program was seen as a way for students to consolidate the learning acquired during clinical rotations. Nursing students were employed as externs over the summer period. Within the confines of the Program, nursing students had the opportunity to practice 21 nursing care activities while under the direct supervision of an expert nurse. This article describes the L'Ordre des Infirmieres et Infirmiers du Quebec Program and identifies the key elements of a hospital-based program. In the first 2 years of implementation, the Program retained 62% of the externs as graduates.