1. Ruth-Sahd, Lisa A. DEd, RN, CEN, CCRN
  2. Beck, Julie DEd, RN, CNE
  3. McCall, Carol RN

Article Content

Summer nurse externship programs in acute care facilities are flourishing across the United States. Many student nurses participate in externship programs as a way to augment their clinical experience in school, thereby easing the gap between school and the real world of nursing practice. The purpose of this descriptive qualitative research study is to examine the reflective feedback from 79 nurse externs to gain an understanding about the nature of transformative learning during a summer externship program. Examining outcomes of externship programs assists nursing educators, practitioners, and administrators to understand the full dimension of these programs. Nurse externs from baccalaureate, associate, and diploma nursing programs participated in an 8-week externship program at a large, inner-city trauma hospital in the northeastern United States. Data collection was ongoing throughout the externship through individual discussions with each extern and faculty member using a combination of focus group discussions at the midpoint of the externship and using reflective surveys immediately following the externship experience. Findings indicated that personal reflection shed light on how student externs transformed their perceptions, values, and beliefs as a result of the externship program. Three themes emerged from the analysis of the findings: (1) affirming assumptions, (2) validating values, and (3) banishing some core beliefs. The results suggest implications for nursing education, practice, and research.


Submitted by:


Lisa A. Ruth-Sahd, DEd, RN, CEN, CCRN


Extern Faculty Coordinator


Associate Professor of Nursing


York College of Pennsylvania


York, PA 17405-7199


Dr Ruth-Sahd is a consultant with Dimensions of Critical Care Nursing.


Julie Beck, DEd, RN, CNE


Extern Faculty Member


Staff Nurse, Intensive Care Unit


Carol McCall, RN


Nurse Recruiter


Lancaster General Hospital


Lancaster, Pennsylvania